CSW 61 – Combined Report

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    CSW 61 Delegate Report
    Louise McLeod
    • Priority theme:
    Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work
    • Review theme:
    Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls (agreed conclusions of the fifty-eighth session)
    • Emerging issue/Focus area:
    The empowerment of indigenous women

    In the opening statement at NGO/CSW forum on Sunday, March 12, Susan O’Malley (Chair) stated that the work of CSW is grounded in human rights under UNCHR 23.2, that everyone has the right to equal pay for equal work and that our work at CSW is the implementation of those rights, not just in the statement of them.
    Round table discussions, side events and parallel events over the two week of CSW61 were aimed at finding solutions to the following questions along with many others.

    “How can we strengthen and support women in this changing world of work”? In her opening statement, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka (ED UN Women) pointed out that we do have strong instruments that we could take advantage of such as CSW itself. We need to build better alliances between government, civil society and academia and call attention to the threats that prevent forward movement and we need to fight xenophobia by upholding rationalism and humanism and have respect for human dignity.

    “Women work harder and longer but their work is not valued / recognized. How do we change the norms”? If a male and a female are candidates for the same job / position, the woman is asked if she wants and family and is generally discriminated against. No one asks a man if he wants a family.
    “How do we change perceptions and attitudes”? Good affordable education for women is one way to allow women/girls a sustainable chance for economic empowerment but our educational institutions are not yet ready to put women where they really need to be… and equality in the household is essential along with freedom from violence. We need a cultural shift with more women leaders, more women in uniform, more women at the peace tables.

    “How do we create zero tolerance for violence against women both in the home and in the workplace”? Little will be done to achieve empowerment for women and SDG 5 if women are still subjected to violence whether it be sexual, physical or psychological. Men perpetrate violence and get away with it.
    “What are the barriers to economic justice for women and what do we do about them”? Economic empowerment for women is all about justice. Society has to live up to women, not the other way around. Empowerment works best when laws serve everyone, not just men or not just women. CSW needs to address the elimination of barriers that discriminate against women and girls such as the building of solid legislative frameworks and alliances, including women and youth in all discussions, and the recognition of the contributions of all NGOs, human rights organizations, the labor sector, civil society, and academia. Changes in discriminatory laws would affect 3 billion women and girls.
    “Leave no woman behind”

    Achieving Gender Equality (SDG 5)
    Gender equality can only be achieved if men and boys also take responsibility for their choices and work along with women. Engaging men and boys is challenging and needs a change in the power dynamic. In a male dominated world, womens’ issues must be addressed including historical injustices. Globally, women daily suffer new assaults on their dignity and denial of their rights. A good example of this are the 15million girls that are forced to marry against their will each year.

    #HeforShe – the Barbershop Toolkit (Iceland)
    The Barbership toolkit for gender equality at work was launched at CSW61 because women cannot wait another 130 years to achieve gender equality (and that is how long it will take at today’s rate of progress).
    The toolkit was created as a means to mobilize men and boys since men are largely missing from the discussion about gender equality. Barbershops and gyms are safe places for men to get together and talk. Gender equality is a win-win situation. 1 out of 9 men have joined the #heforshe movement but we need all men to engage in this effort.

    “To uplift one member of society, you have to uplift the whole society. ”
    “By changing someone’s world, we change the whole world”

    The toolkit features 2 short films:
    1. Film: Tom Stranger, a convicted rapist, talks about his encounter as a rapist and how he feels about it now. Tom has become engaged in talking to other men and have those conversations.. and with women. As men and boys are part of the problem, they have to be part of the solution. We need to change the idea of what masculinity means. The world makes a rapist, women don’t give birth to them.
    2. A film by a coach who uses women athletes as role models for boys. Sports are an excellent way to teach boys about gender equality. Shoot like a girl!!

    Care Work within the Family
    Positive changes must include unpaid, unrecognized work within the household such as child care, elderly care and other needed domestic services. Women who must stay home to attend to these duties are the ones most likely to be left behind and their contribution to the global economy is often not recognized. More than 90% of women in most countries are doing ‘informal’, unrecognized, unpaid work. They need social protection.

    According to OxFam, the economy should be designed for women. The value of the care economy is $10 trillion USD but care work in generally is low paid and insecure, workers face exploitation and women are not the decision makers when it comes to policy.

    Women spend about 6 weeks annually on unpaid work and care work so naturally they are not earning income or at best can only work part time. Women live longer than men and when a woman doesn’t have paid work, she isn’t contributing to a pension. What is needed most is a pension system that recognizes womens’ contributions. At the end of the day we have a lot of poverty among elderly women.

    Work is part of society and vital for food and housing security. It is a right. Government policies which invest in the care economy, social care and child care will actually increase employment and reduce poverty levels.

    Wage Discrimination, Training, Employment Opportunities
    23% of women worldwide earn less than men. They work 3 months longer than men for an equivalent income. The barriers to equality in hiring include the education gap between men and women and business recruitment strategies. Male CEOs and executives are likelier to have partners that work less than themselves and earn less. Female CEOs on the other hand are likelier to have partners that work as many hours are themselves or more and have higher salaries. Male CEOS are likelier to have partners that take greater share of the household duties and caring for children. Female CEOs and executives take the greater share of household duties and caring for children. (School of Social Sciences, Iceland)

    Comments about the Gender Pay Gap: The UN is a marvel of modernism but modern things also get old. The modern progressive idea of equal pay for equal work begun in 1951 is getting old. So if the idea of equal pay was a human, it would be retiring right now. But this old idea is still too much for modern times.
    Women give 90% of what they earn to their families. Men only give 40%.

    Women and ICT
    In a world where technology is expanding at a rapid pace, the gap between men and women online is widening. Women need to be prepared for an increase in the use of technology in the workplace.

    Skills Development, Artistry and Economic Empowerment
    According to Ms. Cathy Stevaluk, film maker, the artisan sector is the 2nd largest sector in the economies of the developing world. Women find it easier .. and safer.. to work at home, often with crafts. It is important to note that travelers and tourists are more apt to purchase authentic quality crafts than anything else. Training women in vocational skills therefore leads to economic independence when they can use these skills to create and sell their products thereby allowing greater occupational diversity along with opportunities for mentorship (even mentorship by men), learning about ownership rights, empowering women through enterpreneurship and the provision of safety in the workplace which is usually in the home. The economic structure of poorer communities cannot open horizons larger than the community can support and in that context, women’s artisan incomes become important. Stories abound of women’s empowerment in the craft world from local home craft producers to skilled artists and artisans.

    The role of skills development and technical vocation training is a critical one for the World Bank with $2.8B USD invested in education and empowerment of women and girls. Skills training for women and girls leads to an increase in employment, enhanced entry in to the job market, and womens’ entrepreneurship. The role women play in the workplace is essential for the economy of the country in general, but has its challenges due to issues of security and family/community cultures. Women need structural and family support. 40% of the world’s workforce are women but there efforts are not always recognized or counted towards a country’s economic statistics.

    Women, Peace and Security
    Gender equality, recognition of victims of violence and women’s right violations and inclusion of women at the peace table are some of the strongest prevention tools in areas of conflict. We are better able to prevent conflict when we have women empowered and included, more sustainable solutions occur when women participate.

    Unless we deal with womens’ marginalization in areas of conflict, we cannot build on conflict resolution.
    The UN SG has put sustaining peace and sustaining development front and center via a prevention agenda in an integrated manner. The best means of prevention is inclusive and sustainable development that includes all segments of society, most critically women.

    For the first time, there will be a womens’ mediation network in the Mediterranean region but more women need to be trained and involved in conflict mediation. Women’s situation rooms have been incorporated in areas for mediation all over Africa making a huge difference while only relying on modest resources.

    The UN has created a new peace building commission – PBC – first of its kind for a body at the UN.

    Gender equality is the strongest indicator of a country’s stability – as gender equality increases, gender violence decreases.

    Ambassador Maria Emam Mejia Velez, Colombia in a side event on skills development, stated that 40% of combatants in recent conflicts in Colombia are women and girls. Post-conflict, these same women and girls are now required to learn how to become productive citizens and become involved in the efforts to sustain peace in the area.

    Modern Day Slavery
    46m people are affected by slavery especially women and girls through the mechanisms of refugee and migrant status, bonded labor, kidnapping of young girls who are sold off for early marriage and/or slave labor. Slavery is a neglected/invisible societal issue driven by a criminal network. The victims are part of a hidden society.

    Senator Aisha al Hassan from Nigeria noted in a keynote address that poverty and unemployment feeds the trafficking racket with women and girls being the most vulnerable. A direct correlation exists between poverty and slavery with discrimination based on sex/religion/cast contributing to slavery vulnerability. Nigerian women and girls are often forced into prostitution and child labor. The ILO reports that 21m people are currently in enforced slavery worldwide at any moment in time and 22% of them are used for sexual exploitation. Slavery is the third most profitable industry worldwide after drugs and arms dealing.

    Slavery is a cross border issues exacerbated by migration issues, enforcement is weak, and prosecution is rare. Women face social protection issues when there is no legal protection for domestic violence, no health care available, and no recourse to justice.

    Trafficking in Persons and the kidnapping of victims fuel conflict and finance and sustain military operations. People on the move such as refugees are the most vulnerable because there are no social safety nets. Women’s bodies becomes war zones and battles are waged over them. Millions of girls battle stereotypes and face double jeopardy when they are kidnapped, sold as child brides or for slave labor and then face rejection when returned to their families or when attempts are made to rehabilitate them back into their communities. Their basic Human Rights are disrespected when there is no accountability for Human Rights violations.

    Slavery in conflict zones is exacerbated. Legal norms against slavery is the strongest in international law but the hardest to enforce.

    Slavery is about power. A deliberate erosion of power occurs to make people vulnerable to enslavement. Slavery is a political issue with unscrupulous people deliberately setting up situations for enslavement. Slavery is mostly legal because we don’t call it that. For example, enforced child marriage when young girls are denied the options to NOT marry is a socially sanctioned method of enforcing slavery (Boko Haram).

    Vulnerability to slavery is reduced when women are economically empowered. EDUCATION for girls is the key. Girls rights must be at the heart of all education systems. Girls given basic education that lead to vocational skills lead to systems of empowerment and decrease their vulnerability to slavery. What also works are good laws, awareness, partnerships, local employment, consistent research on the issues of slavery.
    Governments and development agencies must understand this but difficult to enforce when $150B per year is generated on the back of the 21m slaves around the world.

    Noteworthy Quotes:
    “ [there are ] Not enough leaders in the world with zero tolerance for gender inequality …” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka (ED UN Women)
    “If you are a woman, you are a worker… period”. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka (ED UN Women)
    “It’s always ‘micro’ when you’re talking about financing for women.” Esther Mwaura, Groots, Kenya
    “78% of women in Guatemala work in precarious situations and for low pay.” Dr. Mabel Bianco, Foundation for Studies and Research on Women.
    “Women make the difference in every part of the globe”. SG Gutteres
    “Modern Slavery affects an estimated 46 million people worldwide, over half of whom are women and girls.”

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