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Overview of the United Nations’ 65th Commission on the Status of Women

Posted on June 1, 2021, by Beth Blissman CoL

Even though it was an entirely virtual session, the 65th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65) was a whirlwind of activity this past March 15-26. The official negotiations of CSW65 featured over 100 side events hosted by various countries, and occasionally in collaboration with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). On a separate online platform, the CSW65 NGO Forum welcomed over 27,000 participants from all around the world, who collectively hosted or attended over 700 events. We had a delegation of 12 Loretto and BVM members and friends, and our programs on empowering girls, feminist action for climate justice and social impact storytelling were well-received.

At the conclusion of this two-week sprint, the governmental representatives did achieve an outcome document, known as agreed conclusions. While not quite as progressive as we would have liked (as these documents must gain the consensus of a broad range of U.N. member states), the document did acknowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened pre-existing inequalities and made strong recommendations for concrete measures to enable women’s full participation and leadership at all levels of decision-making.

Fortunately, the agreed conclusions recognized the shadow pandemic of violence against women and girls. Recommendations to end this silent pandemic included ending impunity of perpetrators and support for victims and survivors’ full recovery, including psychosocial support, affordable housing and employment. It also promoted recognizing women’s important role as agents of change in responding to the climate crisis and stressed the need to reinforce women’s presence and leadership in all places where decisions on climate change mitigation and adaptation are made. This is especially important because the priority theme of next year’s CSW is “Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programs.” For those who would like more official coverage, here’s a link to the press release from U.N. Women at the Conclusion of CSW65: https://www.unwomen.org/en/ news/stories/2021/3/press-re- lease-csw65-delivers-blueprint-on- womens-leadership-and-participa- tion-in-public-life.

As our colleague Roberta White, BVM, noted: “Women need to push for our voices to be heard in the discussion of solutions for all problem areas of inequality — in government, in businesses, in social systems, in education, everywhere! We need fair, safe, just and equal treatment. … Laws need to be put in place with accountability measures against discrimination, inequalities and any other injustices. Social Justice for all — equally!”

Finally, the commission’s outcome emphasized the importance of the full engagement of men and boys in this task, so let’s invite our brothers to our sides. You can watch participants of all genders on this NGO CSW65 Virtual Forum compilation video (10 minutes long) that was posted at the conclusion of the event — Loretto is featured at 3:18: https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=-0oYnQq7b48

What’s next? The follow-up to the Beijing+25 process is an effort to bridge the generations to share knowledge and increase activism and commitment. It’s called Generation Equality, and it’s being led by the countries of Mexico and France — stay tuned to Interchange for more information!

Fan Favorite Events

As in past years, both the preparatory NGO CSW Consultation Day (found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eitqt75dw9w) and the town hall gathering with the U.N. Secretary General Antonio Gutierrez (found at http:// webtv.un.org/live-now/watch/ virtual-townhall-meeting-with- womens-civil-society-and-united-nations-secretary-gen-eral-ant%C3%B3nio-guterres-csw65-side-event/6241021250001/?term= ) were quite popular.

Of the three events that Loretto was involved with leading only one was recorded — it was one of 10 Conversation Circles held during CSW65, on the topic of Feminist Action for Climate Justice. The event took place this past March 22 on World Water Day and welcomed over 150 participants. Here’s the Youtube link: https://youtu.be/22hGZcStitM


Beth Blissman CoL

Beth, a Loretto Co-member, is the Community’s UN NGO representative.
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