The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. In March each year governments and civil society representatives gather at the United Nations in New York to discuss progress and setbacks for women globally. The Minister for Women, Senator Michaelia Cash joined the APGPD and a range of CSW participants and interested members of the public to launch the Australian Government’s report from CSW61.
Minister Cash, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, Deputy Secretary for Social Policy with Prime Minister &Cabinet Lin Hatfield-Dodds, and civil society representatives Elizabeth Shaw and Leann Wilson spoke on their experiences.
Beth Shaw, speaking at the launch noted
Despite difficult negotiations, the agreed conclusions [from CSW61] set a global ambition to close the gender pay gap, redistribute unpaid care and domestic work, provide affordable childcare, enable men and women to access paid parental leave and end violence against women and their harassment in the workplace. The agreed conclusions recognise the impact of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination on women, with important standalone paragraphs on rural women, Indigenous women, women with disabilities, and migrant women. Importantly, the agreed conclusions recognise the link between sexual and reproductive health and rights and women’s economic empowerment. SRHR remains a highly contested area in many countries and regions, and Australia will need to continue to be vigilant in ensuring its ongoing inclusion and prioritise strengthening this language in the future.
One of the greatest advances in language was the work led by the Australian delegation on the rights of Indigenous women – and it was particularly meaningful and impactful to have Jahna and Leann supporting these efforts from a civil society perspective, and meeting with other country delegations as members of the official government delegation.
There are many important areas that didn’t make it into the agreed conclusions, or didn’t go far enough if we are to drive real change. And for Australia – the land of the fair go – this means looking at how our tax and transfer system works for women, and making sure we’re making it worthwhile for women to work. It means using policy levers to challenge the distribution of care and domestic work in our country, and recognising that parenting is not just about mothers. And it means building a political consensus on action to eliminate gender based occupation segregation, and working not only to attract women into male dominated industries but men into female dominated industries.
In its 61 years, CSW has contributed to significant progress for women. CSW is where conventions and guidelines to protect the political, social and economic rights of women were adopted, such as the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination of Women.
For a number of years APGPD has hosted the government report back from CSW. This is the only formal setting for parliamentarians and the public to hear from the official delegation and the impact of Australia’s participation on the global stage.