My Experience at the 58th Commission on the Status of Women

March 25, 2014| by Lia Cairone, Delegate of UNA Women

Over the last couple weeks, and during my first delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations, I participated in official events sponsored by country missions and UN agencies on diverse matters, including ending child marriage; empowering women in politics; ending modern-day slavery; closing the gender gap in agriculture; encouraging women for greater participation in Afghan justice; harnessing the benefits of clean cook stoves to reduce smoke-related illnesses and environmental degradation; ending all forms of violence and discrimination against women; the urgent need to mitigate climate change; the role of the data revolution and need for gender disaggregated data; and much, much more.

lia-csw-1Me with delegates from Guinea

During the commission, UN member states negotiate and produce an outcome document. I think that there is an opportunity in the future for civil society to unite and produce its own outcome document. The parallel events I attended during the commission that were put on by NGOs seemed more energized than the official events. The Kyrgyzstan panel on rural women empowerment, the African Women for Good Governance event on forced marriage, and the UNA Women event on sustainable development and maternal mortality rates are good examples. I also attended a parallel event on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) about the very real and colossal threat that the secret TPP negotiations pose. Find out more here.

The best part about my time at the CSW was without a doubt the fascinating people I met. 16 year-old Amanda Gorman from Los Angeles was a star at the commission, raising her voice to diplomats and UN agency representatives with questions such as, “How do we reverse the trend of feminism as an elitist issue? We should be focusing on integrating it with primary school curriculums, but instead gender equality programs are proliferating at universities.” Zeynep Kandur, an activist from Turkey, told me about her work to engage women in democracy, and Mahbouba Seraj, a human rights defender from Afghanistan, shared with me her concerns about the volatility of the country and the potential to lose all the gains made for women over the past decade. Without question, my personal network has been enriched.

lia-csw-2Weijia Li and I listening to Hillary Clinton, Ban Ki-Moon, and Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka speak in commemoration of International Women’s Day. 

My friend from UNA San Diego put it well when she said, “There’s so much energy, excitement, and exchange of ideas at the CSW and other conferences, but we are frustrated when we come back to reality and see issues we care about stagnating.” I felt a similar sentiment stepping out of the UN campus.

Let’s take this moment to work together to transform our passions into a better world for all of us. As the community of the United Nations Association of the USA, we have a great opportunity to push for change. We must collaborate and use our digital and community platform to share ideas, rally our communities, and commit our collective talents to take action.

lia-csw-3Young violinists warm up at the Equinox Earth Day Ringing of the Peace Bell ceremony.

For me, the CSW wrapped up with a celebration of Equinox Earth Day and a ringing of the Peace Bell. Together, as a group of about thirty, we sang songs and shared our longing for a sustainable and peaceful future. Let’s do everything in our power to get there.

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