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The end of March marked the culmination of the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 68), a pivotal gathering that brought together leaders, advocates, and stakeholders from around the world to address pressing gender equality issues. Throughout the intensive discussions and deliberations, participants worked tirelessly to formulate strategies and commitments aimed at advancing the rights and empowerment of women and girls globally, and GWL Voices was there advocating for gender equality and women’s representation within the multilateral system. 

Among the highlights, one of the most reinsuring outcomes was to see that CSW68 closed with agreements perfectly aligned to the GWL Voices statement: 

1. Priorities aligned: 

The alignment between the CSW statement from GWL Voices and the agreements made at the 68th session of this commission underscores a shared vision among our members and the representatives on how to move forward to accelerate the progress of gender equality. 

The 68th session of the CSW concluded with clear commitments to accelerate efforts to eradicate women’s and girls’ poverty, addressing issues such as insufficient progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and the disproportionate impact of poverty on women. These commitments include strengthening financing and institutions, mobilizing resources for gender equality, implementing gender-responsive policies, enhancing women’s representation in economic institutions, supporting women-owned businesses, engaging and financing women’s organizations, and adopting strategies to reduce women’s time and income poverty. Additionally, efforts focus on strengthening national capacities for data collection, adopting sustainable development strategies, and addressing gender disparities in HIV-AIDS responses.

CSW68 also emphasized the importance of youth participation, with various sessions and events dedicated to exchanging experiences and knowledge, particularly regarding the intersectionality of inequality and poverty experienced by young women and girls. Finally, attention was directed towards the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action, with the upcoming CSW69 scheduled for March 10-21, 2025, in New York.

The resonance between GWL Voices’ advocacy and the CSW agreements is a significant milestone in advancing gender-responsive policies and fostering inclusive development. By amplifying the voices of women and girls and translating their experiences into actionable policies, this alignment reinforces the importance of collaborative efforts in achieving meaningful change. It exemplifies the power of dialogue, cooperation, and solidarity in driving progress towards a more equitable and just society for all.

2. Not a step back: 

From the get-go, a message that was repeated during these past two weeks was not to take one step back from the rights and advancements given in these past years on gender equality. Despite there being a long road ahead to reach gender equality, the current backlash threatens to make it worse. During the CSW opening ceremony, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said:

Parity Democracy and Social Justice

Discrimination against women goes back millennia. We don’t want to bring it back. We want to turn it back. We cannot accept a world in which grandmothers fear their granddaughters will enjoy fewer rights than they had. We must speak out, loud and clear: Not on our watch.”

António GuterresUnited Nations Secretary-General

For this reason, GWL Voices advocates for gender equality using proven data that highlights the inequalities in multilateralism exposes them and proposes concrete actions to combat the backlash by advocating for increased women’s representation and implementing measures to guarantee this representation. This was the case of the re-launch of “Women in Multilateralism 2024” in New York, as well as the Panel “Parity Democracy Parity and Social Justice” hosted by the Spanish Ministry of Equality, in which representatives from Mexico, and Slovenia shared the importance of women’s representation in the current political context.

GWL Voices’ President and panel moderator, closed the panel advocating to continue working on gender equality and women’s representation by saying:

To maintain commitment, bet on internal changes, and ensure setbacks don't materialize as we unite by a common message."

Susana MalcorraGWL Voices President
Watch the relaunch of "Women in Multilateralism 2024" in NYC hereWatch the event Parity Democracy and Social Justice here
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3. Equality starts with representation: 

As GWL Voices Board member, Cristina Gallach said during the NEXT Milan Forum: “Equality starts with representation”, and this time more than ever was evident that there is a tremendous gap in representation even in CSW. After opening this 68th session with five male speakers, the General Assembly, as well as the rest of the world, saw something that has been evident for GWL Voices and that has been proven in the flagship report “Women in Multilateralism 2024”: “We need more women in multilateralism. This is not a problem of setting the agenda, but of having enough women in positions of power within international organizations to achieve parity in representation”, added. 

As UN Women’s Executive Director, Sima Bahous, said during GWL Voices’ side-event on financial architecture while sharing a panel with the President of the General Assembly, Dennis Francis, and GWL Voices’ Executive Director and former PGA, María Fernanda Espinosa: 

What a privilege it is to be seated next to two Presidents of the General Assembly. One current, one former. One man, one woman. And this is the way it should be. This is gender equality. And, I think we should all be working towards”.

Sima Bahous UN Women Executive Director

In this regard, GWL Voices actively engaged during CSW with several ambassadors and representatives to share the campaigns #Rotation4Equality and #MadameSecretaryGeneral. These two efforts, created and led by GWL Voices, are concrete measures to increase gender equality and women’s representation in the UN system. On the same note, GWL Voices’ Executive Director, María Fernanda Espinosa, participated in the UN Women’s side-event called “Multistakeholder Partnerships and Practices to Push Forward for Gender Equality, Human Rights and Democracy”, in which she highlighted: “Everything works better in a gender-equal environment”. And also shared the details of GWL Voices campaign Rotation for Equality:

We are proposing something very simple to close the gender gap. There is a regional rotation system, we are asking for a rotation between men and women. It is easy to do, but we need the will and the support of the member states”.

María Fernanda EspinosaGWL Voices Executive Director

4. Invest in women is imperative: 

Investing in women to reduce poverty is paramount, as emphasized during the GWL Voices side event “Reimagining A Gender-Inclusive Financial Architecture For Poverty Eradication”, organized in partnership with the office of the President of the UN General Assembly.  Currently, 10.3% of women live in extreme poverty around the globe. Investing in policies and boosting women’s agency and leadership can lift over 100 million women and girls out of poverty. Moreover, closing the gender gaps in employment could boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita by 20% across all regions, according to UN Women.

The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Dennis Francis, after the event GWL Voices event said: 

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Chronic underinvestment in gender equality slows progress and, in some instances, even reverses the gains we have made in addressing gender inequalities. Let us reaffirm an impactful change, including in financing, which necessitates ensuring the presence of more women in decision-making spaces and leadership positions — standards the world has consistently failed to meet.”

Dennis FrancisPresident of the United Nations General Assembly

Along the same lines, the Women’s Major Group co-hosted an event with United Nations Human Rights, the Permanent Mission of Spain in the UN, UN Women, and GWL Voices, called “Feminist Perspectives towards a Care/Caring Economy and the role of the International Financial Architecture Reform”, in which the importance of investing in gender equality was also highlighted. 

CSW 68 finished with a positive outcome on this, as one of the most important agreements was to integrate a gender lens in national budgeting processes, mobilizing financial resources from both public and private sources, strengthening the international financial architecture, and preventing regressive taxation that disproportionately affects women and girls with low or no income. Measures among the priorities highlighted by GWL Voices in its statements for CSW 68 as well.

Watch the GWL Voices event "Reimagining A Gender-Inclusive Financial Architecture For Poverty Eradication" here
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5. Fostering inter-generational connections: 

For GWL Voices, fostering the participation and inclusion of youth is paramount in advancing gender equality and women’s representation. This commitment was underscored during the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), where GWL Voices hosted the side event “Her Turn: Inter-Generational Dialogue” in collaboration with The New School. During this event, GWL Voices members Anita Bathia, Carol Bellamy, and Gillian Sorensen engaged in an open exchange with students in New York City. The dialogue provided an invaluable opportunity for inter-generational exchange, allowing the voices of young people to be heard and integrated into discussions surrounding women’s empowerment and gender equality. By prioritizing such interactions, GWL Voices continues to amplify diverse perspectives and ensure that the voices of youth are actively shaping the agenda for gender equality globally.

Follow our voices during CSW68 

During the CSW 68 two weeks, GWL Voices had the opportunity to be part of multiple events. Here’s a list of the events:

  • Parity Democracy and Social Justice: Watch here
  • Multistakeholder Partnerships and Practices to Push Forward for Gender Equality, Human Rights and Democracy: Watch here
  • Safeguarding Democracy in the Age of AI – The Role of Women in Politics: More info here
  • The Role of Women in Shaping Justice Systems: More info here
  • Feminist Perspectives towards a Care/Caring Economy and the role of the International Financial Architecture Reform: More info here