The 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65), the UN’s largest gathering on gender equality and women’s rights, opens today as an almost entirely virtual session, with the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the foreground, and preparing the ground for the forthcoming Generation Equality Forum, which will kick off in Mexico City from 29-31 March.
The two-week long gathering for UN Member States, civil society organizations, gender experts, and other international actors aims to build consensus and agree on a roadmap to advance gender equality, with the focus this year on the theme, “Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”.
Recent reports on the theme have reconfirmed that the glass ceiling remains for women around the world, restricting their participation in decision-making, with women serving as Heads of State and/or Government in only 22 countries; women holding just 25 per cent of parliamentary seats, and 12 countries having no women ministers in cabinets at all. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities from increased reports of domestic violence, unpaid care responsibilities, rates of child marriage and millions of women plunging into extreme poverty as they lose their jobs in higher numbers than men.
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said: “This pandemic has been the most directly discriminatory crisis the world has ever seen. It has treated most harshly those most deprived, and affected women’s lives across the world. But with firm political will to achieve fast-tracked, equal power-sharing, women and men can together address this and the other urgent challenges of our time, from climate change to conflict.”
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