The sixty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 11 to 22 March 2019.
Representatives of member states, UN entities, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including nine YWCA Australia delegates spent two weeks immersed in women’s rights advocacy.
CSW is the central policy making body on women’s rights and gender equality at the United Nations. CSW promotes and monitors women’s rights around the world and is a functional commission of the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
2019’s priority theme focused on social protection systems, access to public services, and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality, and the empowerment of women and girls.
The delegation from YWCA Australia included:
- Michelle Phillips, Chief Executive Officer
- Nicole Freeman, Board representative
- Sarah Hill, Young Women’s Development Manager & Delegation Lead
- Shannon Wright, Director National Service Delivery
- Bobbie Trower, Advocacy Lead
- Helen Dalley-Fisher, Program Manager of Equality Rights Alliance
- Harpreet Dhillion, Young Women’s Council representative
- Laura Burr, Young Women’s Council representative
- Dara Campbell, Young Women’s Council representative
Our delegation attended a wide range of parallel and side events on topics ranging from energy security for women, barriers to accessing essential services, sexual and reproductive health innovation hosted by YWCA Finland, workplace safety and e-safety.
We were able to interview Minister for Women (Hon Kelly O’Dwyer), the Sex Discrimination Commissioner (Kate Jenkins), Executive Director of Male Champions of Change (Elizabeth Broderick), Executive Director of WGEA (Libby Lyons) and World YWCA Secretary General (Casey Harden) and ask them about the role of civil society and young women’s voices at CSW.
Reaching Agreed Conclusions
The main outcome achieved at CSW is the Agreed Conclusions, international soft law commitments for governments to implement domestically.
Agreed Conclusions are reached through weeks of negotiations both in the lead up to and at CSW. These negotiations take place among government delegations of the 193 member states of the United Nations. In instances where consensus cannot be met, agreed conclusions are not reached.
In a time of global push-back on women’s rights, having agreed conclusions reached was a major achievement for CSW63.
CSW63 was 11 days of late nights and early mornings. Bustling through one of the world’s busiest cities with 11,000 women’s rights activists is a unique and inspirational experience. CSW63 will be remembered for
- holding the ground against those opposing the recognition of sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender diversity and women’s roles outside “the family”
- being a breeding ground of progressive language and global feminist movement connections.
We hope and expect that gender equality and the rights of women and girls continues to progress in leaps and bounds, building a brighter future for generations to come.
And now, just some of our highlights…
The Australian delegate reception hosted at the Permanent Mission
The Australian Permanent Ambassador to the UN, Gillian Bird hosted a welcome reception for all Australian delegates to CSW. YWCA Australia delegates joined Government representatives including the Minister for Women (the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer), the Sex Discrimination Commissioner (Kate Jenkins), the First Assistant Secretary for the Office for Women (Trish Bergin) and Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (Libby Lyons).
UN Women CSW Youth Dialogue Events
This year the trend continued for increasing the scope and size of the CSW Youth Dialogue. YWCA Young Women Council members joined high numbers of engaged young women from across the world in space allocated for youth-led discussions.
A site visit and programs tour with YWCA Brooklyn
For the second consecutive year, our sisters at YWCA Brooklyn opened their doors to YWCA delegates from around the world to offer a tour of their housing facilities, profit-for-purpose theatre and programs. Located in central Brooklyn it’s an impressive building and an impressive YWCA!
Social, collaborations, merchandise and more
- We collaborated with young Australian designer Martina Martian to create CSW animated ‘GIFs’ (which were viewed 233,000 times!).
- As part of our CSW merchandise collection, YWCA Australia partnered with local jewellery brand, Haus of Dizzy (owned by a young Aboriginal designer Kristy Dickinson) to create YWCA branded earrings as part of our advocacy theme “The Future Is Intersectional” with all proceeds going back to YWCA Australia.
- “The Future Is Intersectional” laptop stickers became a hot commodity at CSW63 are now gracing laptops all over the world and in the homes of customers to Bulletin and Wildfang two of New York City’s famous feminist stores.