CSW64 Cannot Go Ahead Without Global Civil Society

Posted on: March 2, 2020, by :

As women’s rights groups working in the Middle East and Africa, we recognize that the 64th Commission on the Status of Women cannot go ahead as planned given the COVID-19 situation, and urge that CSW64 be postponed until such time that all delegates are able to participate safely. 

We appreciate the difficult position the public health situation poses for the organizers of CSW64, and note the recommendations made to them by the UN Secretary-General. However, the suggestion that CSW be held on schedule but with participation limited to New York-based representatives would leave the process with no credibility.

This CSW was to be of particular significance, with the theme “the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcomes of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly“. Beijing 95 is a truly global landmark in the movement for gender equality. To reflect properly on its implementation requires contributions at all levels – from those working at the grassroots, to ministerial and international representation.

A shortened, scaled-down session open only to those based in New York would lack the time, rigor, and insights required to properly take on the necessary work. It would have little or no credibility for those prevented from participating and the wider world.

Ensuring that women are part of the decision-making processes that affect them is a sine qua non of our movement. We cannot let the most important global event for gender equality go ahead without us.

On that basis we call on member states to postpone CSW64. 

Subsequent decisions on rescheduling should be taken in conjunction with representatives of civil society, and take into consideration the cost implications, as well as public health situation.

Women’s civil society in the Middle East and Africa – and the world – has been central to pushing towards the aims of Beijing 95. Its legacy cannot be accessed when necessary voices have been effectively silenced.