ERA has started work on the lead up to CSW63 in New York in March 2019, and we would love you to be involved!
What is CSW?
The official answer is that the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is a Functional Commission of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. A more useful answer is that CSW is the UN’s tool for promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women globally. It is the only international multilateral forum dedicated to gender equality. CSW monitors progress on the Beijing Platform for Action, identifies challenges and sets global standards on gender equality and women’s rights.
What is happening in March?
CSW meets annually in March in a huge two week event to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate policies to promote gender equality and the advancement of women worldwide. From our perspective, it’s as though someone rolled a major international conference into a UN negotiation process. States, UN figures and NGO representatives come together to exchange information about where we are at on gender equality – what’s working, where the key and emerging issues are and who might be able to help whom. There is a main theme each year relating to one of the critical areas in the Beijing Platform for Action. In 2019, the theme is: Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
The term social protection covers all policy and other initiatives designed to deal with situations that adversely affect people’s well-being. In a country like Australia, which has a State-supported welfare system and a strong concept of a ‘fair go’, that’s a lot of policy and programs to discuss, including all policies and programs designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability by promoting efficient labour markets, diminishing people’s exposure to risks, and enhancing their capacity to manage economic and social risks, such as unemployment, exclusion, sickness, disability and old age. (phew!) You can read more about Social Protections and the CSW issues in the CSW Expert Group Meeting Papers. This information informs Draft Zero of the Agreed Conclusions (the very first version of the Agreed Conclusions).
The main output of CSW is the Agreed Conclusions – a consensus document which sets out the conclusions of the participating States on the theme topic. The document is not enforceable, but it is both a set of minimum standards against which a country’s progress to gender equality can be judged and a promise by nations about the action they will take. In our case, it is a document we can use to strengthen our arguments in domestic advocacy. More information about the Agreed Conclusions negotiations can be found in ERA’s Primer on Language Advocacy at CSW.
Meanwhile, NGOs send thousands of representatives to present hundreds of parallel events in a huge fringe festival to the main Commission proceedings. The networking and information exchange opportunities here are unique, with activists from across the globe swapping data, experiences and program ideas. NGO representatives also lobby State delegations and build relationships with their own States’ representatives and with potential partner States. Australia seeks NGO input into the development of their negotiation priorities, appoints two NGO representatives to participate on the official Australian Government delegation and stays in contact with NGO representatives prior to CSW and while in New York.
How do I get involved?
ERA is currently putting together an email list for people who are interested in being involved in CSW, whether through direct involvement or simply by staying in the loop. Let Helen Dalley-Fisher know if you would like to be on this list.
If you would like to attend CSW63 in March 2019 as an NGO delegate, you will need to register with the support of an ECOSOC accredited organisation at the CSWNGO site. Registrations close on 27 January 2019.