Social Watch at the 54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women

2010 marks the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. To commemorate this and review commitment achieved so far, the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) resolved to conduct its 54th session in New York from 1-12 March 2010. The Social Watch network was in New York to present new findings and reports and also partnered with other NGOs to organize parallel civil society events.

On March 2, AWID, Social Watch and Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) convened the panel “Eyes on Gender: Regional Perspectives on the Impact of the Financial Crisis”. This session brought together gender equality/women’s rights advocates from Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia to debate, investigate, and analyze the impact of the systemic crisis on women from a regional, national and local perspective.

“Women have always been ignored when it comes to dealing with economics and finances. Their views are never consulted yet they are the ones who bear the brunt of the negative impact,” said Ms Emily Sikazwe, of Social Watch Zambia and Women for Change. Read more on the key points raised in the panel in AWID's page, CSW's daily newspaper (pdf) and this article

Emily Sikazwe and Guacira de Oliveira, Social Watch members from Zambia and Brazil also participated in the CSW and were featured on various UNIFEM and intergovernmental panels. 

Furthermore, Natalia Cardona, Social Watch Advocacy Coordinator, gave an oral statement at the CSW. "Social Watch recognizes that the uncertainty in negotiations among member states within the United Nations reflects a lack of accountability with regards to women’s rights that is pervasive and demonstrates the multiple shifts, cracks and crises in global geopolitics and global governance of neoliberal globalization" she said. See also the statement submitted to the CSW in December

On another event on 9 March 2010, NGLS, Social Watch and United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) organized a panel discussion at UN Headquarters to mark the launch of a new Social Watch publication entitled “Putting gender economics at the forefront. 15 years after the IV World Conference on Women.”

The new report argues that the economic and financial crisis has deepened gender inequalities even further and now it is time to design and implement a new development paradigm with equal rights and opportunities for all. Contesting the view of classical economics that measures wealth through the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) indicator, the paper argues that “it is necessary to redefine macroeconomics and recognize that the monetary economy is just the tip of the iceberg that rests on an extensive care economy in which the main work force is female”. See the press release of the report launch.

The panel discussion also featured the presentation of the Gender Equity Index (GEI) 2009 prepared by Social Watch. The GEI shows that the most inequitable countries and regions in terms of gender were those which reported less progress compared to 2008. 

“This stagnation, combined with the progress shown in places where the relative situation was better, enlarged the gap between the most and the least equitable realities”, stressed Social Watch coordinator Roberto Bissio.

The launch of the publication and the GEI had wide repercussions in the media and featured prominently in civil society interventions at the UN. For example, Gita Sen, professor at the Centre of Public Policy at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, and Adjunct Professor of Global Health and Population at Harvard University, discussed the “leaky glass” regarding commitment to women's rights, saying that somewhere between intention and action, there was a slippage.  "Between 2004 and 2009, Social Watch’s Gender Equity Index found that the education gap had significantly worsened in 24 countries from the previous period. The empowerment gap had significantly narrowed in almost 129 countries, but 70 countries fared significantly worse in economics" she said. Read the full intervention here.


Other press coverage:

Gender equality indices: numbers don't lie, and they also don't tell the whole story
by Masum Momaya, AWID

The world’s best countries for women
By Nancy Folbre, The New York Times

Social Watch Presents Its Gender Equity Index at the CSW in New York by NGLS

Equidad de género: acatar no es cumplir
By Gustavo Alzugaray, Gloobal