Press release: Development in jeopardy as gaps in progress for women and girls persist

Commission on the Status of Women to assess progress through the Millennium Development Goals


As the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals draw to a close, the Commission on the Status of Women — the annual gathering  of countries  to address critical issues related to gender equality and women’s rights — will spotlight the achievements and the gaps made since 2000 in the lives of the world’s women and girls.

The 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, convening on the priority theme “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the MDGs for women and girls” from 10-21 March, comes at a critical moment as UN Member States are defining the future global development agenda in the ongoing  post-2015 debate. Expectations are high that CSW58 will inform and guide a forward-looking development blueprint which stresses the central importance of ensuring women’s rights, empowerment and gender equality.

“The Commission is an opportunity to bring global attention to the fact that the realization of women’s and girls’ human rights is far from being achieved and needs increased attention and action to achieve the MDGs.  There is rising political commitment to a stand-alone goal focusing on women and girls in the post-2015 development agenda and we hope to make further progress at this CSW session,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director.

The report card on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) shows that they have delivered uneven progress for the world’s women and girls. The goals have played an important role in galvanizing attention on and resources for gender equality and women’s empowerment. Important gains have been made, for instance in girls’ access to primary education, but overall advancement for women and girls has been mixed, and fallen short of expectations. Advancement also varies dramatically from country to country, and for the most marginalized groups. The bumpy progress has a deep impact on the lives of women: lack of access to drinking water continues to exacerbate the burden of water collection for many women and young girls; women are grossly under-represented in national parliaments; and almost 800 women are still dying every day during child-birth as the target to reduce the maternal mortality ratio remains unmet. Additionally the Goals paid little attention to the broader context impacting women’s lives, such as economic crises and macroeconomic policies, persistent conflict and environmental changes.

The Commission on the Status of Women is expected to reiterate that effective implementation of the MDGs for women and girls requires renewed efforts to advance gender equality. This must include strong political will to ensure concrete steps towards gender-responsive institutions, strong governance and accountability systems, and meeting the obligations and commitments in line with CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action.

More than 6000 representatives from 860 civil society organizations have registered for the high-level meeting. Over 135 events will be held organized by UN agencies at UN Headquarters in New York, alongside the official meetings of the Commission. Also planned are more than 300 parallel events hosted by the NGO community close to the UN premises.

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