Why I come to CSW…
More than 3,900 civil society representatives from 138 countries came to New York in March to take part in the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women. The Commission is the largest global intergovernmental forum on gender equality and the empowerment of women. We asked civil society representatives what they come to the forum for, and what do they takeaway.
“This is my fifth CSW! The Commission gives us a useful platform to work with our government to include our concerns into the outcome document. For example, at this CSW, the draft document mentioned “women workers”, but did not mention “domestic workers”. We approached our government to make sure that they proposed the inclusion of domestic workers in the document. [Once CSW adopts] the outcome, we can take that document back to our national governments and hold them to account. I am very bold for change. When I approach the government, I tell them, we are not asking you for favours. You are our government and you are here to work for us. I don’t give up easily.”
“CSW helps in building our own capacity as civil society to engage in political spaces. We bring people with us to CSW to show them how the UN operates; how to negotiate an agreement; how to work with our governments to [influence] the language in the outcome statement; and understand how countries vote on issues. The more that people understand these processes, they can advocate better. We also use the space to showcase our own projects. From a strategic meeting held here in New York at CSW, we see funding materializing for projects back home!”
"This is my first CSW and it has broadened my perspective. Yesterday, I attended a meeting with a woman from Ghana and she was sharing how they have addressed customary law by introducing a male feminist Chief. I can share the successful strategies I learned about with others back home. I feel that I can now be more effective in my work, rather than do it by trial and error.
“At CSW I hope that governments fulfill the promises they make. That means ensuring indigenous women are not just included in the final declaration, but that there is a strategy on how to implement the programmes that are supposed to help them. It is not just about giving them some resources to have a small handcraft shop, but to see them through the process…and ensure that they have the skills and information that they need. A fact that is often overlooked is that many indigenous women are now living in the cities, and not in the forests, so it is also important to ensure they have decent jobs and working conditions, being very often involved in the domestic work sectors.”
“Women come from different backgrounds with different experiences here, and we can take back some of these experiences to the women we work with in our countries. At CSW, we learn about a spectrum of issues impacting women. For example, I will take back what I have learned about improving women’s management skills and strategies to address women’s safety at workplaces and public transportation.”
“CSW provides a platform to showcase what we are doing in our space, and also exposes us to what others are doing in their different spaces. As a gender equality advocate, I believe in the power of numbers. I think having all these women coming here to advocate for [our common] issues makes a difference.”
“It is so inspiring, knowing how women’s organizations are improving women’s rights in so many countries. Yesterday, I went to an event about domestic workers and I learned about the work they are doing in Lebanon, for example, and in other countries in the Latin American region. I learned about the issue of care and domestic work in other countries and how they are pushing the agenda and finding solutions.”
In New York, we can talk to each other [at CSW] and civil society actors like me can bring facts to the table to inform them about women’s needs and priorities…We use the collective power of the women’s movement to push the agenda being set here. At this CSW, not only is it clear to me that we must find ways to sustain our advocacy, but also that we must recognize the vitality of including young women to bridge the generational gap.”
See Participant Voices for more perspectives