[New York, 22 March]—After two weeks of intense dialogue, the 63rd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) concluded today in New York with a strong commitment by UN Member States to safeguard and improve women’s and girls’ access to social protection systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure, ensuring that their design and delivery is transformed to prevent discrimination and create a ‘level playing field’ for women and girls.
The Executive Director of UN Women, which serves as the CSW Secretariat, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said: “This annual gathering has never been bigger nor more significant for the women and girls of the world. The Commission’s recommendations pave the way for governments to engage and invest differently; involving women in policy dialogue, and targeting initiatives that go to the heart of the largest barriers to the empowerment and voice of women and girls.”
The outcome of the two-week meeting, known as the Agreed Conclusions, adopted by Member States, puts forth concrete measures to bolster the voice, agency and leadership of women and girls as beneficiaries and users of social protection systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure.
Key recommendations from the Agreed Conclusions include the following:
- Invest in social protection, public services and sustainable infrastructure to support the productivity of women’s work, including in the informal economy;
- Ensure that progress in women’s access to social protection, public services and sustainable infrastructure is not undermined by budget cuts and austerity measures, and levels of protection previously achieved are not reversed;
- Build on multilateral commitments to gender equality, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the ILO Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202), to strengthen access to social protection, public services and infrastructure for all women and girls;
- Recognize, reduce and redistribute unpaid care and domestic work by ensuring access to social protection for unpaid caregivers of all ages, including coverage for health care and pensions;
- Scale up investment in quality public care services that are affordable and gender-responsive;
- Identify and remove barriers to women’s and girls’ access to public services, such as physical distance, lack of information and decision-making power, stigma and discrimination;
- Guarantee the availability of safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation, including for menstrual hygiene, in homes, schools, refugee camps and other public places;
- Ensure that transport policies and planning are sustainable, accessible, affordable, safe and gender-responsive, taking into account the different needs of women and men, and adapted to be used by persons with disabilities and older persons;
- Promote the full and equal participation and leadership of women and women’s organizations in policy dialogues and decision-making relating to social protection systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure;
- Strongly condemn the impunity and lack of accountability rooted in historical and structural inequality that accompanies pervasive violence against women.
Universal access to an old-age pension, quality health-care services and safe and affordable public transport can enhance women’s income security and independence, shape whether a small entrepreneur will get her products to market on time, and at what cost; or whether an adolescent girl can get safely to her school and has access to a toilet. This can determine whether girls go to school at all, what markets a woman farmer can access, and how much time she has left in a day to pursue other paid work or leisure.
As the single largest forum on gender equality and women’s rights for UN Member States, civil society organizations and other international actors, this year’s CSW saw a record number of attendances. Participants included more than 5,000 representatives from civil society organizations around the world, nearly 2,000 Member State delegates and 86 ministers.
Social protection systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure are integral to achieving the implementation of the landmark 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by world leaders.
The Agreed Conclusions will be made available shortly at http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw63-2019