Twenty nine members of the IBVM/CJ network attended the virtual 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women and the NGO CSW65 Virtual Forum last March. Together with over 27,000 participants, our delegates participated in various webinars and conversation circles while also watching a number of the CSW sessions on the UN WebTV. The hybrid nature of the event enabled a record number of people from all parts of the world to attend.
It was a very different affair to last year’s 64th session that convened for only one meeting that included opening statements followed by the adoption of the draft Political Declaration. The rest of the session was suspended due to the uncertainly of the evolving coronavirus. It was disappointing to most of us as last year was a pivotal year with the 25th anniversary of the the Fourth World Conference on Women and adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995).
The Report of the Secretary General especially the main points were helpful and energizing. The Agreed Conclusions tried to include “everything and anything” and provided good information. The progress or lack of, depends on what we all do at different levels. It was energizing for our delegates to know that we are all in this together.
Our delegates found CSW a great place to meet and share the lived experiences of women from the global world. It was an opportunity to see how women are doing worldwide. They appreciated that some of the women that were experiencing exclusion were able to participate in person or through recorded voices to share their stories.
One delegate reflected that events like CSW65 bring together women and girls from different regions, cultures, and backgrounds together to give form to a truly intersectional and inclusive brand of feminism that is empathetic and empowering. Without such events, they feel that our networks extend only to women and girls in their cities or countries. CSW65 brought in so many different perspectives in the same room and enabled them to enhance the way they look at the issues that impact women and girls.
Asked about what learnings they gained, they indicated not being aware of the existence of organised disinformation aimed at obstructing women from participating fully in public life. It is important to educate ourselves to be aware of this and to share the information with others. It is important to highlight the presence and stories of women and girls in traditionally male-dominated fields. Women and girls need to be taught how to be more conscious of their oppression and the encroachment upon their rights. Only then can we enable them to fight against inequality. Sadly poverty, disasters, wars, and other adversities disproportionately impact women and girls.
There is a great deal of work going on regarding advocacy for gender equality especially in reference to women. Networking is important and having connections with like-minded individuals can enable us to create greater impact. We need to call for more gender-sensitive research all around the world to achieve policies that truly promote gender-equality. Women and girls need a seat at the decision making table.
Read the reflections of Charlotte Hamilton and Georgina Tenny, two students from Loreto Marryatville in Australia who attended a number of CSW65 parallel events after participating in a Local Conversation Circle in their school.