UN commission advocates for more women to have roles in global decision-making

The United Nations’ primary committee tasked with advancing gender equality across the globe on Friday adopted a new document promoting the role of women in global-decision making. 

The UN Commission on the Status of Women, which was established in 1946 as a means to advocate for and improve the lives of women around the world, issued a pledge “for women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life and the elimination of violence,” according to a press release

The “Agreed Conclusions” were negotiated by the UN’s 193 member countries and adopted by the commission’s 45 members following two weeks of discussions at the committee’s annual meeting. 

According to The Associated Press, more than 25,000 members of civil society organizations participated in this month’s mainly virtual meeting amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women and secretariat of the women’s status commission, said in closing statements Friday that this year’s gathering was the first “to engage with the issue of women’s participation in public life,” adding that the agreed-upon conclusions “make important advances.”

“The women of the world have made it very clear that the past and the status quo have not met their need for gender equality,” she added. 

Friday’s press release stated that the adopted recommendations include encouraging countries to change laws and policies that prevent women from fully participating in public life, develop “innovative measures” to promote the role of women as leaders, set specific targets to achieve gender equity in government and encourage political parties to nominate as many female candidates as male candidates. 

However, the AP noted that Mlambo-Ngcuka said Friday that the final conclusions “do not please everybody,” as certain countries sought to include even “more ambitious” recommendations. 

For example, the AP reported that some Western countries sought to have the commission officially recognize in its recommendations gender nonconforming and transgender women. 

After a series of negotiations, the closest the commission reached to acknowledging this request came in a reference to women and girls “who experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” and face “diverse situations and conditions.”

The European Union also said it would have liked “more ambitious language” in the 23-page document, adding that “the systematic attempts by some delegations to derail the process and question international commitments and obligations on gender equality show that the pushback against women’s rights continue,” according to the AP. 

Russia, along with the Holy See, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Cuba and China, were among the countries accused of pushing back on several measures being considered by the commission. 

The AP reported that Shannon Kowalski, director of advocacy and policy for The International Women’s Health Coalition, said earlier Friday that “Russia has been very vocal and on the front lines” in pushing “for language that is often regressing and that seeks to deny women and girls … their rights.”

Tags Associated Press Bahrain China Commission on the Status of Women Cuba European Union female politicians Gender equality Gender nonconforming Russia Saudi Arabia transgender women United Nations women's right's Women's rights

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