Welcome to the NGO CSW 61 Forum
NGO CSW/NY is pleased that women from around the globe are meeting together for the two weeks of CSW61 in the face of obstacles caused by the growing nationalism in the world. If women have been denied visas, it is important that they are included in our parallel events by Skype or phone or written remarks. At CSW61 women and men need to strategize together to build the feminist/women’s movement to ensure the human rights of all women, to learn best practices from each other, and to work to implement the Sustainable Development Goals in our countries.
The word “empowerment” as used in the Priority Theme, “The Economic Empowerment of Women in the Changing World of Work”, raises questions. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “empower” as “to invest legally or formally with power” or “to permit”, in other words, as a person in power allowing an individual woman to achieve a gain without a sense of women collectively. Too often “leave no one behind” is forgotten in discussions of empowerment when a woman is praised for breaking a previous economic barrier. We need to see the Priority Theme in term of human rights, a concept that works better horizontally than vertically.
We also must remember our work is grounded in human rights: the International Declaration of Human Rights (IDHR, 1948), the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, 1979) and The Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA, 1995). The IDHR, article 23.2., states, “Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.” CEDAW, 1979, Article 11, affirms, “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of employment in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights.” And the BPfA IV.F.165, states, “Enact and enforce legislation to guarantee the rights of women and men to equal work or work of equal value.” In other words, what is important for our work at CSW61 is insisting on the implementation of our rights, not simply restating them.
In the international environment of the curtailing of space for NGOs, we also need to take advantage of every opportunity given to civil society at CSW 61 to make our voices heard whether in oral interventions in the UN or working, when possible, with our national delegations to implement the SDGs in our countries, particularly SDG 5 on gender equality. We need to organize at our Caucus meetings or at the UN Women’s event on “Building the Feminist/Women’s Movement” on March 17 at Cooper Union.
Women may also find it productive to work at the local level by either working to pass the human rights framework of CEDAW in their towns or cities as has been done in 17 U.S. cities. Or in the majority of countries that have passed CEDAW to use it to ensure women’s human rights as is being done increasingly to protect the rights of women refugees (gen. rec. 32) and migrants (gen. rec. 26).
During CSW 61 we need to gird ourselves with our human rights documents and organize together to strengthen the feminist movement and implement our economic rights in the changing world of work. Remember that gender equality is the best indicator of peace in a nation.
Have a productive and energizing two weeks at CSW 61.
Dr. Susan O’Malley
Chair, NGO CSW/NY
Main UN Representative, NY
International Federation of Business and Professional Women
Join us at NGO CSW/NY’s 45th anniversary celebration on 15 March 2017 at 4:30 at the Church Center! All are invited.