Reflections on UN CSW 61: An Evening with WIIS-NY

c9tgryyuqaewmgwAs many followers of Global Action know, we have been honored to cultivate a long and productive relationship with Women in International Security (WIIS), and especially its New York and West Coast (US) Chapters.

On April 11, we joined with WIIS-NY for an event to assess the impact of the recently concluded 61st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) devoted to Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.

The speakers for our assessment included Yoshita Singh, Shazia Rafi, Ourania Yancopoulos and Ivy Gabbert, all well-known around the UN system.   The session was ably moderated by WIIS-NY’s Christina Madden.

The discussion veered between issues of women’s leadership at the UN and more general, employment-related discrimination faced by women in a variety of security-related, professional contexts.   In addition, attention was focused on the needs and aspirations of younger women representing part of the largest generation of young people ever to grace our planet.  Two of the young adults who had participated in this CSW joined the group and shared their own commitments to gender equality within and far beyond the UN system.

There were several “take away” insights for Global Action as well:

  • The important focus on rural women whose options and contexts for “empowerment” are often very different from women in urban, educated and even “elite” environments.  We must remain sensitive to context and avoid “one size fits all” discourse.
  • The importance of ensuring that the most qualified women candidates are able and willing to become candidates for institutional leadership, including and especially leadership at the UN.  States simply must take a larger role in nominating qualified women.
  • The importance of improving synergies between “political” events like the CSW and the binding treaty obligations embodied in the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
  • The importance of making space for young voices and energies, including our own willingness to identify and mentor youth as they find their own voices and embark on their own paths of leadership and service.

In all security-related fields, there is still much work to be done to ensure fair and equal access to employment opportunities, political participation and institutional leadership for women, ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities and more.   The proverbial “faces in front of the camera” have changed significantly in recent years, but there is still a hill to climb.  We must climb it without delay.

For more information on WIIS-NY, click here.

For more information on CSW61, click here.