Gender and Women’s Rights a Thread of Continuity for Social Watch Advocacy throughout 2010 at the United Nations

Natalia Cardona

In 2010 at the United Nations, in New York, many events have gender and women’s rights as their theme or are solely focused on gender. These occasions provide an important thread of continuity for Social Watch’s work on gender and women’s rights. While these events are diverse in their nature all have significant importance to gender issues and to the status of women at the international level. Social Watch will make its contribution to these forums by bringing forward concrete data on the impact of the global financial crisis on gender equality and gender equity from a human rights perspective.

The first and foremost gender-related event in 2010 is the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) which will be taking place March 1-12, 2010 and will undertake a fifteen-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly. Certainly this event will be a driving force in terms of what has been achieved regarding the status of women since the commitments made by governments in Beijing in 1995.

At last measure Social Watch’s own Gender Equity Index (GEI) (2008) found that that income alone was not a guarantee for gender equity. At that time more than half the women in the world lived in countries that had made no progress towards gender equity. Given these previous findings and the current impacts of the global financial crisis Social Watch has the opportunity to make a relevant contribution towards highlighting those effects on gender and women’s rights. Thus, the Social Watch’s GEI 2009 will be an important measuring rod for governments’ advances and set-backs in terms of gender equity and gender equality and will be launched at the CSW in March 2010.

The GEI has been developed by Social Watch to measure inequities in different areas of women's and men's everyday lives around the world. The 2009 GEI ranks 157 countries by measuring women's relative economic activity, education and empowerment, and evaluates their progress or regression in achieving gender equity over the period of 2005-2009. The GEI will provide a concrete platform from which to analyze the effects of the financial crisis on the basis of gender desegregated data and through the lens of a human rights-based approach.

Social Watch will also provide a thread of continuity to its work by continuing to hold governments accountable for the commitments they made and make to increase gender equity and equality at the international level throughout the year. As already stated above the opportunities for SW’s advocacy in 2010 on gender equity and equality are varied and include the Development and Cooperation Forum which will take place in June 2010 and will have as its cross cutting theme gender; the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) which will focus on Millennium Development Goal(MDG) #3—to promote gender equality and empower women—and examine reports from countries that agree to review their policies on gender (June 2010); the Millennium Development Goal summit in September 2010 which includes MDG #3; the 10th anniversary of resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security which will take place in October 2010; the 31st anniversary of United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in December 2010; as well as the 11th Anniversary of the Optional Protocol to CEDAW.

During these forums and events SW will continue to drive forward its message on the impact of the global financial crisis on gender equity and equality. The newly established SW working group on gender and women’s rights will contribute to moving forward this work and to making gender a key aspect of SW’s international advocacy strategy. And this will be an important contribution to the analysis and to forging new paths on women’s empowerment.