Governments Endorse New Roles for Women’s Commission

The UN Commission on the Status of Women revamps working methods to raise the stakes in advancing women’s equality, empowerment and rights.


(New York, 20 March 2015) The UN Commission on the Status of Women concluded its 59th annual session today with an agreement by UN Member States on steps to boost its efforts to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Governments attending the meeting agreed on new working methods for the Commission to continue setting standards related to the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and strengthen its role in global policy-making and coordination of actions around implementation. They affirmed the commission’s central contributions to shaping the landmark post-2015 sustainable development agenda slated for adoption by a global summit of heads of state and government in September.

As the primary UN body for advancing intergovernmental commitments to gender equality and follow-up to the Beijing Platform, the Commission will further align its work to the Economic and Social Council and the new UN High-level Political Forum. This will strengthen efforts to integrate gender equality across all global debates and actions on sustainable development.

Since a large number of government ministers now attend the Commission, Member States agreed to create a ministerial segment starting at the next session in 2016. It is expected to heighten the visibility of current concerns, and offer opportunities to demonstrate high-level political commitment to accelerated progress towards gender equality, empowerment and the full realization of women’s human rights.

Congratulating the Member States, civil society and the UN system for “a forceful, dynamic and forward-looking session”, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said in her speech, “We are all aware that there are no shortcuts to realizing gender equality, the empowerment of women and the human rights of women and girls. Based on the road we have travelled, we know that there are more challenges ahead of us. We know we must continue to work, systematically and relentlessly, to bring about transformation in our families, societies, economies, and political and public spaces,” she added.

Governments agreed to sharpen focus of the Commission’s annual review theme. Moving forward, case studies will demonstrate lessons learned in implementing commitments made in previous Commission sessions. The Secretary-General will issue a targeted report on progress on the theme, drawing on national data and other inputs. The process will help close gaps between promises made and measurable change, and offer concrete evidence of how international norms can be translated to make a major difference in the lives of women and girls.

The 59th session included a range of high-level roundtables and panels on critical topics ranging from scaled-up financing for gender equality, to responsibilities of men and boys, to improved gender-disaggregated data. Discussions on lessons from the Millennium Development Goals will further shape the post-2015 development agenda.

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