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Commission on the Status of Women

The annual ten-day meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was held from March 4-15, 2013. The 57th Session of the CSW took place, as usual, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Established in June 1946 with a resolution of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the CSW includes 45 member states of the United Nations. Some of these are from Argentina, Columbia, Cuba, Finland, Jamaica, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe. Member terms are for four years.

CSW is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Each year the Commission puts forth priority themes. Most recently these have been: 2012 – empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges; 2013 - elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls; and 2014 - challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for women and girls. As an aside, there are eight Millennium Development Goals. MDG’s are primarily concerned with significantly reducing extreme poverty and the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015.

Priority themes are based on the Beijing Platform for Action developed during the 1995 world conference on women. The CSW undertook a ten year review of the Beijing Platform for Action during the 49th session in 2005. Based on that review the practice of focusing on a priority theme began with the 51st session in 2007.

The Commission on the Status of Women is “dedicated to ensuring women’s equality and to promoting women’s rights.” The CSW also organizes and provides follow up on outcomes of the world conferences on women. In addition to the Beijing Conference there have been conferences in Mexico (1975), this conference marked the CSW’s 25th year and International Women’s Year; Copenhagen (1980), and Nairobi (1985), the end of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace.

The Commission, which fought to have gender neutral language included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (30 articles drafted in 1948), offers recommendations to be implemented by government and nongovernmental organizations on every level from local all the way up to international. These recommendations are planned to advance their stated goal of ensuring women’s equality.

The 57th CSW session included a number of round table and panel discussions. Some of these included: prevention of violence against women and girls with several panelists including one from Egypt, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Another panel discussed gender norms and stereotypes, socialization and unequal power relations with panelists from Senegal and New Zealand among the participants.

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