From 10-21 March, the UN in New York will host the annual conference of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). UNA-UK is pleased to be sending a delegation to CSW, made up of Sally Spear, member of UNA’s Women’s Advisory Council, and Hayley Richardson, UNA-UK Policy & Advocacy Officer.
This year's meeting will focus on the achievements and challenges of implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls. With the 2015 MDGs deadline looming, a number of gaps remain. According to the Secretary-General’s report, women in particular face a number of challenges, including:
- Global employment rates for women are 24% lower than for men
- Women constitute just 21% of parliamentarians in lower houses, 19% of Senate or upper houses and 17% of government ministers
- 34% of all live births in 2011 took place without a healthcare professional present
- In 2011, funding targeting gender equality programmes was just 5% of total bilateral aid
Ahead of CSW, UNA-UK is consulting its members and supporters to establish which of the remaining gaps are of most concern. Working in coordination with several civil society networks, the delegation will then use every opportunity in New York to influence decision-makers on these issues.
Whilst CSW will primarily focus on the MDGs, it is also an opportunity to reflect more broadly on how effective the MDGs have been for women and girls as the world's attention turns to the post-2015 development agenda.
Several lessons can be taken:
- Missing issues: an array of issues vital to gender equality and women’s empowerment were absent from the MDGs. Most notably violence against women but also the impact of conflict, sexual and reproductive health and rights (not just maternal mortality) and women’s limited access to assets
- Data disaggregation: painting an accurate picture of women’s development is seriously restricted by the lack of gender-specific statistics. For example, household surveys aren't broken down by gender and do not take into account unequal distribution of income
- Investment: gender-equality aid predominantly targets education and health, with very little targeted assistance for women in the economic and productive sectors, or for family planning. Overall funding also needs to be dramatically increased
- Global goals: whilst the MDGs have no doubt begun to improve the lives of women in developing countries, for the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment, any future set of goals must have a global focus
To achieve this, UNA-UK will be joining calls from UN Women and civil society for a standalone goal on gender equality – in addition to gender mainstreaming – to feature in any future development framework.