Special Subject Discussion
Linking Agenda 2030 to the themes of CSW60, CSW61 and CEDAW
Firstly I’d like to thank you for your time, and also NAWO, the NGO enabling me to be here and supporting me through this process.
International instruments such as agreements, conventions, declarations and agencies that relate to women have been designed and developed for organisations to use, in order to improve the lives of women and girls. However it is not always easy for organisations and their members to know about, or to understand these instruments, and this can limit their usefulness. These instruments also often overlap in their themes and goals. This can create confusion, but on the positive side, linking themes and work-streams from different international instruments can help organisations to be stronger and more effective.
When beginning my research into this topic, I was very impressed by the extensive networks in place for the progression of women’s rights across the world. I experienced similar feelings at the start of this week when walking through such an amazing institution for the first time, witnessing the tireless work of all those participating at the UN. However what alarmed me when discovering about all these international instruments, was the lack of clarity regarding how they all work together to achieve their common goal. As all of this is relatively new to me, I hope that my views as a young person experiencing UN work for the first time can be useful to you and potentially generate some discussion on the topic.
In this talk, I am going to look at some links between Agenda 2030 with its sustainable development goals, the articles of CEDAW and the themes of the Commission on the Status of Women, in particular CSW 60 and 61.
CSW is the mechanism that originally consulted upon and created drafts of CEDAW for agreement at the United Nations General Assembly. CSW refers to CEDAW in discussions and outcome documents, and has remained the space for considering implementation of global processes for women and girls. These two mechanisms are therefore already closely aligned, with CSW constantly referring to CEDAW both as a whole or to specific articles.
In the years prior to the agreement on Agenda 2030, CSW themes enabled women to discuss issues related to Agenda 2030, (in addition to the Major Working Group that provided access to the on-going discussions prior to September 2015). CSW looked at lessons learnt from the MDGs and this is the review theme for CSW61. In addition the current work plan for CSW incorporates themes of Agenda 2030 so that CSW can play a part in the monitoring and evaluation of Agenda 2030.
The theme of CSW 61 is “Economic empowerment of women and girls in the changing world of work”, which relates to Goal 8 of the SDGs; “To promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all”. By using the more recently introduced Agenda 2030 as a vehicle for incorporating women’s right into policy and programmes, CSW can ensure that member states’ commitment to human rights thoroughly addresses the need for a focus on women’s issues across all goals.
Very close links can also be observed between Agenda 2030 and the articles of CEDAW, which further emphasises the suggestion that Agenda 2030 can and should be used to implement the aims of the UN’s work for women. For example, Article 10 of CEDAW, promoting education for women and girls, which is incorporated into SDG 4; “to ensure inclusive and quality education for all, and to promote lifelong learning.”
In regard to the current CEDAW reports, it is clear from the rapid advances in education for girls and women in Sri Lanka, displayed in their Country Report in relation to the Millennium Development Goals, which preceded Agenda 2030, that a universal initiative focused on prosperity for all is extremely useful for the growth of women’s rights. However there seems to still be a very large gender gap in employment, with the unemployment rate for women being more than twice as much as that for men. For work on improving this, SDG5 is very relevant, as is the theme of CSW61, and both of these mechanisms can potentially be utilised by CEDAW to ensure progress in Sri Lanka.
Germany is another of the countries under review this year, and is also a prime example of a country committed to cooperation with the SDGs, as they have incorporated them into their new National Sustainable Development Strategy. This is an excellent opportunity for CEDAW to ensure that Germany is upholding not only SDG 5 but all others applicable to women.
Ireland, on the other hand, recently released their Second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, in which there is a noticeable focus on the prevention of gender-based violence. This fits with the main theme of CSW 60, however it was not mentioned in the report, and neither was Agenda 2030. CEDAW was only briefly mentioned in the introduction.
Turning to El Salvador, women’s rights advocates face the problem of the criminalisation of abortion. The state party report fails to present any progress on this issue, which could suggest that a new approach is needed. Although article 12 of CEDAW, which mentions women’s rights to reproductive health services, can be used in this campaign, an alternative route to holding government to account is by referencing SDG3, aiming towards good health and well-being, whilst highlighting this specific vulnerable group that requires assistance.
To conclude, I am calling for recognition that the SDGs could be one of the most powerful assets to influence government policy at our disposal. CSW and CEDAW should work to encourage incorporation of the SDGs into governmental policy to widen the opportunities for access by women’s organisations. If CEDAW can question state’s parties on their implementation of all the gender sensitive goals together with Goal 5, it will encourage the link in thinking. In addition those working on CSW and Agenda 2030 need to reference the relevant articles of CEDAW. All parties need to raise awareness of these links and the practical difference this can make to the lives of women and girls , and boys. To quote Abigail Hunt of the Overseas Development Institute, “the tools needed to make progress on gender equality and women’s rights commitments are there – now they need to be picked up and used.”