The 55th Commission on the Status of Women

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Released 16 March 2011

Kayla Calvo

Kayla Calvo speaks with Sümeyye Erdogan, daughter of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at a reception hosted by the Turkish mission to the UN.


delegates

Delegates from The Salvation Army alongside Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile and now head of the UN’s new agency for gender equality, UN Women.


side-event

Kayla Calvo, Ahjah Gage and Hannah Pho at their side-event “Girls Talk about Violence against Girls,” in the ISJC’s auditorium.

The 55th session of the UN’s annual Commission on the Status of Women (“CSW 55”) was held in New York between 22 February and 4 March 2011. The Commission on the Status of Women is a functional commission under the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and is the UN’s primary policy-making body dealing with women’s rights and gender equality. This year’s CSW was the first session supported by the UN’s new agency for gender equality, UN Women.

The priority theme for this year’s Commission was “access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work.” In addition to being disproportionately excluded from both formal and informal education, women around the world are consistently underrepresented in the fields of science and technology, and are often prevented from pursuing careers in these fields. These are areas where a clear gender bias remains in all parts of the world, and women’s exclusion from the sphere of science and technology both limits their opportunities for employment and generally exacerbates their exclusion from society. Throughout CSW 55, therefore, the discussions dealt with ways to address gender stereotyping and other societal and structural barriers maintaining gender imbalances in education, employment, and the fields of science and technology.

The review theme for CSW 55 was “the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child.” The purpose of the discussions around this theme was to follow up on the implementation of the agreed conclusions from CSW 51, where discrimination and violence against the girl child was the priority theme.

The Salvation Army’s delegation to CSW 55 consisted of staff from the International Social Justice Commission, Major Kathleen Calvo from The Salvation Army in Atlantic City, and three young Salvationists: Hannah Pho (18) from Australia (currently living in Hong Kong), Ahjah Gage (14) from upstate New York, and Kayla Calvo (13) from New Jersey. Over the course of the CSW, the three girls attended sessions of the commission itself, were involved in writing statements, and also in several side-events, including their own well-received event: “Girls Talk About Violence Against Girls.” At this event, moderated by Major Calvo, the girls each presented their own experiences and researched reflections around the topic of violence against girls, and also an artistic interpretation of this issue – Kayla and Ahjah through dance, and Hannah through a song that she composed and performed.

Numerous other side-events were held on the premises of the International Social Justice Commission throughout the two weeks of CSW 55. These included events sponsored by a variety of NGOs, as well as different UN entities. Two documentaries were screened, organized by the office of the Secretary-General, both highlighting the issue of sexual violence against women in the context of the Secretary General’s “UNiTE to End Violence against Women” campaign. During the Commission, daily devotions were held at the UN Church Center, each day arranged by a different member of the ecumenical community. The Salvation Army organized devotions during the second week, with the help of musicians from the Greater New York Men’s Fellowship Praise Band– highlighting the important message that women’s empowerment, and ending violence against women and girls, also requires the conscious involvement of men and boys.

The Salvation Army was signatory to three statements for CSW55, from different NGO groups: the Working Group on Girls from the NGO Committee on UNICEF, the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, and Ecumenical Women. The statements can be accessed in PDF format below. The primary annual outputs of the CSW are known as the “agreed conclusions,” which summarize the issues that have been discussed and present specific policy recommendations to member states. The agreed conclusions of CSW 55 were released on 14 March, and are attached in PDF format below.

Planning now starts for next year’s CSW, which will focus on the situation of rural women, and their role in the eradication of poverty and hunger.

 


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