Media advisory: As the Beijing Declaration turns 20, the 59th Commission on the Status of Women will take stock of women’s rights, amid mixed progress
The year 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Considered the most comprehensive blueprint on advancing women’s rights, the 1995 Beijing roadmap was adopted by 189 governments. But 20 years on, the commitments made are only partially fulfilled.
From 9-20 March, the 59th Commission on the Status of Women will review global implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and take stock of where women stand in the world today. From the political to the economic spheres, progress has been made, but not enough.
Today, only one in five parliamentarians is a woman. Approximately 50 per cent of women worldwide are in paid employment, an increase from 40 per cent more than 20 years ago, with wage inequality persistent. At the present rate of progress, it will take 81 years for women to achieve parity in employment. The pandemic of violence against women and girls affects one in three women worldwide, despite being recognized as a gross human rights violation and a barrier to global development. In 2000, the groundbreaking UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security recognized the need to increase women’s role in peacebuilding in post-conflict countries. Yet, from 1992 to 2011 only 4 per cent of signatories to peace agreements and 9 per cent of negotiators at peace tables were women.
Preparations for the upcoming meeting have been significant. UN Women launched a global campaign “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture It” last year, to reignite the gender equality debate through global events and engagement. In the lead-up to the Commission, a record-breaking 166 countries undertook national reviews regarding the status of women in their countries. Rich contributions have also come in through consultations with civil society, who remain an integral part of this process. Setting a new record, more than 1,100 NGOs and a total of 8,600 representatives have registered to participate in this year’s session. About 200 side-events hosted by governments and UN agencies are planned alongside the official meetings of the Commission, with an additional 450 parallel events by civil society.
With the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform coinciding with the defining of the post-2015 development agenda, expectations are high that it will generate momentum and urgency for global actions on women’s rights and gender equality. A political declaration will be adopted by the Commission on the opening day of session.
HIGHLIGHTS FOR MEDIA:
- Press Conference, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, 6 March, 11 a.m. Room S-0237, UN Secretariat [Live webcast: ]
- UN Observance of International Women’s Day 2015, 6 March, 9-10 a.m., Trusteeship Council Chamber, UN Secretariat. [Live webcast: unwomen.org]. This event will be held as part of the High-level Thematic Debate on “Advancing Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls for a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda”, hosted by the President of the UN General Assembly. With the theme of “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture It”, the IWD event will see high-level participation including, Sam Kahamba Kutesa, President of the UN General Assembly; Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director; and other dignitaries.
- International Women’s Day March-- Step it Up for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights, 8 March, 2.30-5 p.m., New York City. The event is co-hosted by UN Women and the City of New York, with the UN Women for Peace Association, NGO Committee on the Status of Women, NY (NGO CSW/NY), Man Up and The Working Group on Girls NGO. For more information, see our flyer.
- Annual Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) event titled “Unlimited Potential: Business Partners for Gender Equality”, hosted by the UN Global Compact and UN Women, 10 March, 1.30– 5.30 p.m., ECOSOC Chambers, UN Secretariat. Speakers include Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General; Hillary Clinton, Former U.S. Secretary of State; Mary Robinson, UN Special Envoy on Climate Change; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director; private sector business leaders, and others. Media outlets need to register at [ Click to reveal ] to attend the event, along with getting UN media accreditation. Programme at: http://weprinciples.org/Site/Programme
- Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it Up for Gender Equality, a large-scale Beijing+20 celebratory event with musical performances, high-powered speakers and celebrities, 10 March, 7.30-10.30 p.m., Manhattan Centre, Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 West 34th, New York City.
For press covering the International Women’s Day event or any official CSW59 events at the UN Secretariat in New York, UN press accreditation is required. More information at: https://www.un.org/en/media/accreditation/index.shtml
Media Opportunities: Women’s rights advocates and experts are available for interviews. List below, please contact media officers listed.
- CSW official events: https://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw59-2015/official-meetings
- Entire list of official side events: https://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw59-2015/side-events/calendar-of-side-events
- NGO-organized parallel events: http://www.ngocsw.org/
- Editorial In-Focus CSW59: https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/csw
- Official documentation: https://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw59-2015/official-documents
- Social Media: Follow @UN_CSW and @UN_Women on Twitter for the latest updates and stories, using the hashtags #CSW59, #IWD2015 and #Beijing20.
- CSW webcast of UN Women side events: https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/csw/webcasts
- Gender-related news and resources from the UN: https://www.un.org/womenwatch/
- Beijing+20 website: https://beijing20.unwomen.org/en
Events at the 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, 9 – 20 March 2015
Official meetings of the Commission are listed here: https://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw59-2015/official-meetings
Live webcasts: https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/csw/webcasts
Key Official Sessions:
- Opening of the 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, 9 March, 10 a.m.- 1 p.m., UN General Assembly [Live webcast]
- Ministerial Round Tables, 10 March, Round tables on ‘Making the economy work for women and girls’ and ‘Investing in gender equality and the empowerment of women’ 10-11.30 a.m. and 11.30- 1 p.m., Conference Room 4; and Round tables on ‘Transforming politics and public life to achieve gender equality’ and ‘Accountability for realizing de facto equality for women and girls’, 10-11.30 a.m. and 11.30 a.m.-1 p.m., Conference Room 1
- Round table with ministerial participation on results of regional Beijing+20 events of the UN regional commissions, 12 March, 3-6 p.m., Conference Room 4. UN Women Executive Director to moderate the panel.
All the above will also be webcast live at: http://webtv.un.org/
UN Women organized/co-sponsored events:
- Promoting gender equality in nationality laws, organized by UNHCR and OHCHR, with Missions of Algeria, Australia, Bangladesh, Chile, Indonesia, Kenya, New Zealand, Portugal, Senegal, Tunisia and the United States of America, 10 March, 11 a.m.-12.45 p.m., Conference Room E
- Towards a Continental Results Framework on Women, Peace and Security in Africa, organized by the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa and the Permanent Mission of the African Union, 10 March, 1.15-2.30 p.m., Conference Room 11
- Annual Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) event, titled “Unlimited Potential: Business Partners for Gender Equality”, hosted by the UN Global Compact and UN Women, 10 March, 1.30– 5.30 p.m., ECOSOC Chambers, UN Secretariat; 11 March, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m., Wyndham New Yorker Hotel (481 8th Avenue, New York). Media need to register at [ Click to reveal ], to attend the event, along with getting UN media accreditation. Programme at: http://weprinciples.org/Site/FeaturedSpeakers This event will be livestreamed.
- Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it Up for Gender Equality, a large-scale Beijing+20 celebratory event with musical performances, high-powered speakers and celebrities, 10 March, 7.30- 10.30 p.m., Manhattan Centre Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 West 34th Street, New York City
- Implementing the Beijing Platform for Action especially in the post-2015 context: A UN system response, organized by UN Women, 11 March, 15-9.45 a.m., Millennium Hotel. By invitation only.
- Parliaments for Gender Equality: Priorities for Beijing+20 and beyond, full-day parliamentary event, organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women. Speakers include Ellen Chesler and Nicole Ameline (both CEDAW members), Rosaline Smith, MP from Sierra Leone, and others, 11 March, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., ECOSOC Chamber
- New action on women's rights – shared responsibilities, organized by the Nordisk Forum, Swedish Women's Lobby, and co-sponsored by UN Women, 11 March, 10-11.15 a.m., Conference Room 11
- Prevention to Response: Addressing the continuum of violence against women and girls, organized by UN Women, 11 March, 1.15-2.30 p.m., Conference Room 1 [Live webcast]
- Gender and Local Economic Development: Unlocking domestic capital for women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship, organized by UNCDF, UNDP and UN Women, with the Missions of Sweden and Luxembourg, 11 March, 3-4.45 p.m., Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium
- Women and the Media, Advancing Critical Area of Concern J of the Beijing Platform for Action, organized by UN Women and UNESCO. Speakers include Academy Award-winning actress Geena Davis, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova, and other leaders, 12 March at 10-11.15 a.m., Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium [Live Webcast]
- Voices against Violence: Addressing the root causes of violence against girls and women through non-formal education, organized by the Permanent Mission of Denmark, Zonta International, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and co-sponsored by UN Women, 12 March, 11.30 a.m. – 12.45 p.m., Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium [Live webcast]
- Arts and advocacy campaign to end sex discriminatory laws, organized by Equality Now and UN Women, 12 March, 1.15-2.30 p.m., Conference Room 1. Introduction by Jane Fonda. Opening remarks by UN Women Executive Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Equality Now Global Executive Director Yasmeen Hassan, and artistic performance by Sarah Jones. [Live webcast]
- Intergenerational dialogue: The issues at stake and strategies for action, organized by UN Women, 13 March, 9.30-6 p.m., ECOSOC Chamber [Live Webcast]
- Women, the environment and climate change in the Pacific, organized by Secretariat of the Pacific Community and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, 13 March, 6.30 -7:30 p.m., Conference Room 12
- Ebola Virus Disease: Sierra Leone & Liberia experiences (emerging lessons, getting to zero and beyond), co-sponsored by UN Women, 16 March, 11.30 a.m. – 12.45 p.m., Conference Room E
- Looking into the future: The place of sport for women’s empowerment post-2015, organized by UN Women and International Olympic Committee. Speakers include Sania Mirza, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and tennis star, Lydia Nsekera, Chair of the IOC Women and Sport Commission, and other leaders, 16 March, 10-11.15 a.m., Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium [Live Webcast]
- The Right to Development: The centrality of women’s human rights, organized by Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) with Missions of Fiji, Uruguay, and co-sponsored by UN Women, 17 March, 11 a.m. – 12.45m., Conference Room 11
- Beijing+20: Assessing implementation in Africa and the way forward, organized by ACORD and UN Women, 17 March, 3-4.15 p.m., Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium [Live Webcast]
- Status of Women in the UN System, organized by UN Women, 17 March, 1.15-2.30 p.m., Conference Room 11. [Live Webcast]
[Entire list of official side events: https://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw59-2015/side-events/calendar-of-side-events; NGO-organized parallel events: http://www.ngocsw.org/]
UN Women senior officials will speak at the following events:
- Women and Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), on 9 March, organized by UN Women with Mission of Latvia, 4.45-6 p.m., Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium
- From Commitment to Action: Financing gender equality in the post-2015 agenda, 10 March, 3-4.15 p.m., Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium
- Unlocking multiple benefits for women and girls through sanitation and hygiene in the post-2015 era, organized by Missions of Singapore and Senegal, co-sponsored by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council and UN Women, 13 March, 1.15-2.30 p.m., Conference Room 9
- Beijing+20: The voices of indigenous women, organized by International Indigenous Women’s Forum, 13 March, 6.30-7.30 p.m., Conference Room 12
- Launch of the Fund for Gender Equality’s 3rd Call for proposals, organized by UN Women, 17 March, 11.30 a.m. – 12.45 p.m., Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium
The following gender equality advocates are available for media interviews:
Maribeth Biano, from the Philippines, is a knowledgeable voice on the issue of the economic empowerment of indigenous women. She is involved with training, research and programme implementation as a member of the Asian Indigenous Women’s Network (AIWN) secretariat. Read an AIWN publication here.
Elizabeth Broderick is Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner and leads the Commission’s collaborative work with the Australian Defence Force on embedding cultural change across the Navy, Army and Air Force. During her term, she has been committed to improving gender equality through her advocacy in preventing violence against women, sexual harassment and other women’s rights issues. Elizabeth has been a key advocate for Australia’s national paid parental leave scheme and domestic violence reform. Read more here.
Hazel Brown, from Trinidad and Tobago, is a founding member and Executive Director of the Network of NGO's of Trinidad and Tobago for the Advancement of Women, a national umbrella organization formed in 1985 to review the position of women in the country at the 1985 World Conference on Women. An outspoken advocate for women's rights, Hazel is a strong believer in women’s equal participation in decision-making processes.
Dorothy Davis is the founder and president of The Diasporan Touch, an international public affairs firm based in New York City that promotes economic development and entrepreneurship worldwide. Dorothy specializes in the African Diaspora and South-South cooperation. She also chairs the International Board of Directors of the Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund in Liberia.
Isabella Diaz, an elementary school teacher, is passionate about promoting the empowerment of women and girls in Honduras, her home country, and uses the medium of education to promote gender equality.
Aidé Garcia, from Mexico, has extensive experience working on issues such as clergy sexual abuse and sexual and reproductive rights in Latin America. Her work has been recognized through a medal by Mexico City Women’s Institute, and others. She is the Inter-institutional Relations Coordinator of Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir. She is available for interviews in Spanish only.
Minerva Halteh, from Palestine, is a strong believer in women’s right to full participation in public life, inspired by her gender concept training with the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) and participation in YWCA’s regional conferences.
Joe Keefe, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pax World Funds, is a celebrated figure for his work to promote sustainable investing and women’s empowerment. He was named by Ethisphere Magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics” and recognized by Women’s eNews as one of “21 Leaders for the 21st Century,” where he was the sole male honouree. He is also a recipient of the Women’s Empowerment Principles Leadership Award. Read more here.
Bafana Khumalo’s work on integrating gender into HIV-related public strategies in South Africa has been instrumental. He is co-founder and Senior Programmes Specialist of Sonke Gender Justice. He was active in the anti-apartheid struggle and also participated in the peace accords. Read more here.
Thida Khus, from Cambodia, is the Executive Director of SILAKA, an agency that works for governance and women’s political participation. Since 1997, she has actively supported peacebuilding and non-violence in Cambodia and is now heavily engaged with women’s political participation at the sub-national level.
Winnie Kodi is a young woman from the Nuba Mountains in Sudan who has dedicated herself to working with women’s advancement in the region. She also covers indigenous and minority groups’ issues as a Communications Assistant at the Indigenous Information Network.
María Consuelo Mejía
María Consuelo Mejía, from Mexico, is the co-founder and director of Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir (Catholics for the Right to Decide), which works to end unsafe abortions in Latin America and is a leading pro-choice advocate. María has received several awards for her work, including from Amnesty International and the government of Mexico City.
Minister Zorana Mihajlović
Zorana Mihajlović is the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia and the Minister of Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure. Having authored and co-authored four books and written over 20 papers on energy, she is an expert on the Serbian energy sector and on sustainable development. She can also speak on Serbia’s commitment to reducing gender-based violence.
Abbigal Muleya is a young woman from Zimbabwe, who was recognized by U.S. President Barack Obama for the great lengths that she went to become a Washington Young African Leaders Initiative fellow at the African Leaders Summit in summer 2014. Currently, she is the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for Zubo Trust, an NGO that works for the advancement of women and girls in the Zambezi Valley, one of the poorest regions in Zimbabwe. Read her story here.
Esther Mwaura-Miuru, from Kenya, is the founder and national coordinator of Groots Kenya, a network of grass-roots women representing self-help groups and organizations across Kenya. Founded in 1995, the network today has more than 2,000 women members from different women's organizations throughout Kenya.
Victoria Nnensa, from Malawi, is a medical doctor, and hopes to become a leading researcher in public and maternal health. She is also the secretary of the YWCA National Board and has been actively involved in a project focusing on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young women.
Monica Novillo, from Bolivia, is the Executive Secretary at Coordinadora de la Mujer, a national network of 27 NGOs committed to promoting gender in national laws and policies. She has also advocated for women’s rights at a regional and international level, such as during Rio+20.
Hibaaq Osman, from Somalia, is founder and chief executive of Karama, an organization that promotes women's participation in democratic processes and public life in Syria and across the Middle East. She will be accompanied by representatives from Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, and Somalia. Read her blog.
Rosa Pavanelli is the General Secretary of Public Services International, the global union federation for public sector trade unions. Previously, Rosa served as Vice-President of the European Public Service Union Federation in 2009, and PSI Vice-President for the European Region. She has also worked for the Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), becoming regional General Secretary in 1999, and later President of the public sector branch of CGIL.
Dean Peacock is a prominent figure in South Africa, whose activism over the last 25 years has focused on gender equality, gender-based violence, men and constructions of masculinities, and HIV and AIDS. He is co-Founder and Executive Director of Sonke Gender Justice, and co-founder and co-chair of MenEngage. Read more here.
Throughout her youth, Sophia Pierre-Antoine, from Haiti, has worked for the rights of vulnerable women, including women of colour, undocumented immigrants, and women of LGBT communities. Currently, she is the Programme Officer for YWCA in Haiti, and the Program Officer for the Haiti Adolescent Girls Network.
Olga Segovia, from Chile, is an expert on gender violence, security, citizenship and urban development in Latin America and has authored several research publications on these subjects. She is President of Corporación Sur and Regional Coordinator of the Women and Habitat Network, a group of NGOs committed to gender equality in issues related to urban land and housing.
Elizabeth Tang serves as General Secretary at the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF) in Hong Kong. Previously, she worked as International Coordinator for the International Domestic Workers Network. Elizabeth has also worked for over 16 years at the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, where her last position was Chief Executive.
Linda Tarr-Whelan is an international expert and senior advisor to governments and corporations, a speaker, activist and writer on the importance of women’s role in the economy. Formerly Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women under President Bill Clinton and Deputy Assistant for Women’s Concerns for President Jimmy Carter, she is the author of the prize-winning “Women Lead the Way: Your Guide to Stepping Up to Leadership and Changing the World.” Read more here.
Moreblessing Tawonezvi, from Zimbabwe, works on sexual and reproductive health and rights at the World YWCA as a coordinator of community activities. A student of social work, she is particularly interested in empowering rural women.
From Nepal, Kamala Thapa works towards the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and women in decision-making in government structures. She is the Gender Officer at the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN).