The Equality Rights Alliance works with our colleagues at the other four National Women's Alliances to engage and support the women's sector in Australia on international human rights processes, in particular through:
- participation in the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW),
- human rights treaty reporting processes, and
- raising awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals.
What is the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)?
The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the chief policy making body on women’s rights and gender equality at the United Nations. CSW operates as a functional commission of the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), meaning CSW is charged with promoting and monitoring women’s rights around the world.
CSW is held over approximately two weeks at the United Nations Headquarters in New York every year in March. The principle output of CSW is the Agreed Conclusions, international soft law commitments for member states (governments) to implement.
These Agreed Conclusions are reached through weeks of negotiations both in the lead up to and at CSW. These negotiations take place among government delegations of the 193 member states of the United Nations. There is limited space for civil society in the negotiation room itself, though some countries include civil society representatives on their government delegations, such as Australia.
Civil Society is actively engaged in CSW through the NGO CSW parallel events and direct advocacy at the UN.
Previous CSW Work
See below for previous ERA engagement with the Commission on the Status of Women.
The sixtieth session of the Commission on the Status of Women took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 14 to 24 March 2016.
The priority theme for CSW60 was women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development; and the review theme (taken from CSW57’s agreed conclusions) was the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. Read about Hannah’s CSW experiences at The Gender Agency and YWCA Australia.
Equality Rights Alliance joined with the other National Women’s Alliances in a submission leading into the 59th Commission on the Status of Women [link to PDF document]. No Agreed Conclusions were adopted at CSW59, instead the Commission adopted a declaration on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995.
ERA was represented at CSW58 by our Program Manager, Helen Dalley-Fisher. The Agreed Conclusions for CSW58 can be found on the UN Women website.
ERA presented at the Joint Alliance CSW report back in Sydney at the Australian Human Rights Commission.
ERA Program Manager, Helen Dalley-Fisher.
AWAVA Chair, Julie Oberin
2020 Universal Periodic Review
The Universal Periodic Review ('UPR') is a mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council which reviews the human rights records of all 193 United Nations Member States.
In 2020, a coalition of non-government organisations (NGOs) from across Australia prepared a joint NGO submission to Australia's third review under the Universal Periodic Review. ERA coordinated the section on gender. You can find the shadow report here, and the report of the Australian Government here. The NGO advisory group also prepared a series of fact sheets for use in advocacy, which you can find here.
2020 CEDAW Follow Up Process
The CEDAW Committee has selected four recommendations from its 2018 report on Australia for follow up this year. The follow up recommendations are:
Recalling its general recommendation No. 28 (2010) on the core obligations of States parties under article 2 of the Convention, the Committee recommends that the State party… (b) Recognize First Nations in the Constitution to enable indigenous women to claim their rights.
The Committee recommends that the State party... (b) Reinstate funding to services that focus on women’s rights and to women’s organizations, including to those which focus on the rights of indigenous women.
The Committee recommends that the State party… (a) Implement the recommendation made by the Children’s Commissioner in 2017 to review state and territory laws, policies and practices to guarantee access to legal and prescribed abortion services and to raise awareness of sexual and reproductive health rights among women and girls, parents, teachers, medical professionals and the general public and create safe zones around abortion clinics.
The Committee reminds the State party that, in line with the Committee’s general recommendation No. 32 (2014) on the gender-related dimensions of refugee status, asylum, nationality and statelessness of women and general recommendation No. 28, it is responsible for all its actions affecting human rights, regardless of whether the persons affected are on its territory or not, and that all persons who attempt to enter its territory and are subject to Australian refugee status determination procedures, whether onshore or offshore, fall under the responsibility of the State party. It recommends that the State party… (b) Stop offshore processing in Nauru and the processing of asylum claims at sea and ensure that all women and girls seeking asylum have access to gender-sensitive and fair refugee status determination processes within the territory of the State party and to legal representation and legal remedies.
The follow up recommendations have been chosen because the Committee decided that they constitute a major obstacle to women’s enjoyment of their human rights and therefore are a major obstacle for the implementation of the Convention as a whole. ERA coordinated and submitted a CEDAW follow-up report in conjunction with NATSIWA and Harmony Alliance. ERA’s drafting team included representatives from 48 organisations.
International Aids Conference 2014
As part of our effort to build a presence in the Sexual and Reproductive Health policy space, ERA attended the 2014 International AIDS Conference (IAC) in Melbourne. The IAC was a unique and valuable opportunity to build ERA’s relationships in the health sector in Australia and globally and strengthen our profile in sexual and reproductive health. We were able to strengthen our knowledge base on sexual and reproductive health advocacy and identify links between the current national HIV strategy and broader sexual and reproductive health policy.
Beyond 2014: Youth Leadership in the AIDS Response
The Melbourne Youth Force held a Press Conference on Tuesday July 22 to release the ground breaking Youth Action Plan, as well as to highlight the key advocacy messages of Treat all People. Respect all rights, END HIV/AIDS
The 2014 Youth Action Plan states “The needs of adolescents and young people cannot be ignored any longer. Despite the advances in the fight against AIDS, we are experiencing a crisis in the adolescent and youth pandemic. We have the tools to address this crisis, but we need governments, policy makers, and healthcare professionals to commit to real and effective change by 2020. We need to TREAT. REFORM. EDUCATE. LOVE”
The panel spoke about the Youth Action Plan, and its development, which was done in consultation with young people both in Australia and internationally.