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Commission on the Status of Women

Concern Worldwide’s Carol Wrenn went to this year’s United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Here she writes about her experience.

The UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meets every year in New York to discuss progress on gender equality. They identify challenges in this area and agree on ways to improve the lives of women worldwide.In March, the Commission met for two weeks to discuss issues around the theme of eliminating and preventing all forms of violence against women and girls.

Tough discussions

I attended the meetings with the Irish Delegation and Irish Consortium on gender-based violence. As the first week progressed, the negotiations intensified as countries tried to agree on solutions for sensitive issues like traditional harmful practices and reproductive health.

Rights of women and girls

Thankfully, late on 15 March, member states agreed on a document towards improving the rights of women and girls worldwide. Some of the key areas the member states agreed on included the following:

  • Custom, tradition and religious considerations should not be used to avoid addressing violence against women and girls
  • Women who have been the victims of gender-based violence are now entitled to critical healthcare services
  • Services should be provided for marginalised groups such as indigenous women, older women, women with disabilities and women living with HIV
  • States should call on communities and institutions to address and change attitudes, behaviours and practices that lead to  violence against women and girls
  • States should improve the safety of girls at - and on the way to and from - school

UN Women

At the end of the meetings, Michelle Bachelet, the head of UN Women, delivered a final speech to say that she is resigning from her post to return to Chile. Ms Bachelet has been a strong leader in advocating for the rights of women and girls worldwide, and her successor must continue to lead the way in ensuring these agreements are put into practice.

In depth