On Monday, 14 March, South African Ambassador Mathu Joyini opened the sixty-sixth session of the Commission of the Status of Women (CSW66) in her capacity as the Commission's Chair, under the theme: “Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes”.
The choice of this year's priority theme could not be more timely, not only because climate change is one of the greatest global challenges of the twenty-first century, but because the impact of climate change on women and men is not the same. Women's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change stems from different factors: they represent the majority of the world's poor and are more dependent on threatened natural resources—and the poor, particularly in developing countries, are disproportionately affected by climate change. Women are also impacted more than men by climate change because of their different roles and responsibilities: women everywhere have less access than men to land, decision-making roles, training and education in agriculture-related fields, which would enable them to better adapt to climate change.
Established in 1946 as one of the functional commissions of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Commission on the Status of Women promotes women's rights and shapes global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Fifty years after its establishment, in 1996, ECOSOC expanded the Commission’s mandate and decided that it should take a leading role in monitoring and reviewing progress and challenges in the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and in mainstreaming a gender perspective in United Nations activities.
This year's session of the Commission on the Status of Women started on Monday, 14 March, and will end on Friday, 25 March, in a hybrid format, with side and parallel events being held remotely. Representatives of United Nations Member States, other United Nations entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations from all regions of the world participate each year in the session.
As its established practice, the Commission adopts multi-year programmes of work to evaluate progress. It also makes recommendations—in the form of negotiated agreed conclusions on a priority theme—in connection to the implementation of the Platform for Action. Similarly, the Commission also contributes to the follow-up to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the aim of accelerating the realization of gender equality, and the empowerment of women and girls.
At each session, among other things, the Commission:
- Convenes a ministerial segment to ensure high-level engagement and the visibility of the deliberations of the Commission
- Engages in a general discussion on the status of gender equality, identifying goals achieved and efforts underway
- Convenes interactive expert panel discussions on initiatives taken to accelerate gender equality
- Focuses on a priority theme
- Evaluates progress in implementing agreed conclusions from previous sessions as a review theme, this year being "Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work", which was the agreed conclusion of its sixty-first session
- Considers emerging issues and new approaches to questions affecting the situation of women that require timely discussion
- Considers, in a closed meeting, the report of its Working Group on Communications, and
- Agrees on further actions for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women by adopting agreed conclusions and resolutions.
The Commission's main body is the "Bureau", which plays the crucial role of facilitating the preparation for, and ensuring the successful outcome of, the annual sessions of the Commission. Bureau members serve for two years.
The Bureau includes five members, representing all the regions of the world. This year, it is composed by:
- H.E. Ms. Mathu Joyini of South Africa, as Chair (African States Group)
- Ms. Pilar Eugenio of Argentina, as Vice-Chair (Latin American and Caribbean States Group)
- H.E. Ms. Antje Leendertse of Germany, as Vice-Chair designate (Western European and Other States Group)
- Mr. Māris Burbergs of Latvia, as Vice-Chair designate (Eastern European States Group) and
- Ms. Hye Ryoung Song of the Republic of Korea, as Vice-Chair designate (Asia and Pacific States Group).
As expected, the work of UNESCO-TWAS is very much in line with the activities of the broader United Nations system. One of the Academy's latest initiatives is TWAS-Elsevier Foundation Project Grants for Gender Equity and Climate Action. Under this programme, grants are awarded to teams of 2–5 women scientists for action-based projects which, although scientific in nature, will take them outside laboratories to promote tangible changes in their communities, under the umbrella of the Sustainable Development Goal 13 on climate action. The principal applicant and project leader must be a woman scientist, holding a PhD, living and working in a science- and technology-lagging country. Co-applicants can be either scientists or technical experts in a field relevant to the project, from any developing country.
The deadline to apply is 19 May 2022. For more information: https://twas.org/opportunity/twas-elsevier-foundation-project-grants-gender-equity-and-climate-action
We, at UNESCO-TWAS, look forward to reporting on the results of the ongoing session of the Commission on the Status of Women. We also look forward to receiving applications from eligible female scientists for our new programme.
Raffaella De Lia