Gender equality and other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are high priority and part of my giving back strategy. Supporting women in life, business and in their career is my life long mission, so when the opportunity of becoming a UN Women UK delegate for the 65th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) arrived, I was right on it.
March meant to be A Women’s History Month in the UK, but instead, we were reminded about violence against women and injustice for women of colour. It’s been exhausting and traumatising for many of us, opposite of the celebration of women’s lives.
But it also gave us more reasons to come together and address these issues and look into ways to make the world a better and safer place for women.
The CSW is a big event, which stretches over a few weeks and is held in UN Headquarters in New York City. As the pandemic hit hard this year, it was held online.
The programme included several different sessions; I felt like a child in a sweetshop: there was so much to choose from!
There are several types of events, panels and discussions and are divided into three categories:
- formal meetings of Member States, official negotiations,
- events run by Member State parties and UN Agencies
- parallel events, less formal sessions.
As I had my clients and regular work scheduled, it was tricky to choose which sessions to attend and which one watch on replay as there were recordings to fall back on.
The best part of the CSW for me was that there were angles of gender equality I wouldn’t usually consider. It was refreshing to see how many different countries and organisations joined forces to hold meetings and highlight women’s rights.
To give you an idea of how diverse were the subjects, here are some titles of the sessions:
Championing Women’s Leadership in Tech
Women, Peace and Security
Girls’ activism: accomplishments, challenges and opportunities for social change
Gender equality in the public sector: How and why Victoria, Australia is leading the way
Girls and Women: Leading the Charge to Ensure #LearningNeverStops
Equal Pay for Women: Tools and Policies
Addressing Mental Health Consequences of sexual and gender-based violence.
‘Eliminating violence against women in public life.
Building back better: women’s participation and leadership in COVID-19 response and recovery.
These are just a handful of subjects; each was covered in-depth by people who work on the ground, day in and day out, walking the talk.
It was a real treat to see different solutions, ideas and thoughts on the matters. Seeing how many people are involved gave me a tremendous sense of hope. It’s easy to see that it’s a big subject and how we are ever going to make a change, but worldwide, people are committed to sorting out gender equality every day in their communities. We all have the power to chip in by doing our bit in our corner of the world.
So what were my takeaways?
I think there was a theme with many of the universal points:
- collective action, men allies are as crucial as women activists
- mentoring programmes for the younger generation; preparing for the career path, especially in areas where there aren’t many girls graduating, cybersecurity, coding
- pay transparency at all levels
- more female role models at the leadership positions;
- equality at the lower and leadership positions in a workplaces
- providing support for new, and especially young mothers
- encouraging girls to pursue a career in the areas where we currently don’t see many women, i.e. in STEM
- ensuring gender equality, both at home and at work
- building up our confidence
- beliving that the change is possible.
Through the period of the CSW, I also met and connected with many inspiring women and men who have gender equality high on their agenda. UN Women UK has done amazing work, made it look simple and seamless. We had Slack to communicate with each other and the Miro board to share our takeaways, favourite quotes and stats.
It was an incredible experience of 1000 delegates coming together united over one goal.
The CSW opened the door for me to many different areas of gender equality I never considered and also gave me a sense of a new community with very diverse interests and approaches.
Each gender has a different approach and unique way of seeing challenges, and we all can improve the lives and careers of women, but we have to work together to find common ground.
So can we make the world a better and safer place with gender equality?
Kamala Harris, Vice president of the USA, during the opening ceremony, said:
“The status of women is the status of democracy.”
I think she nailed it.