March 2, 2020

Due to ongoing concern about Coronavirus transmission, Member States of the United Nations have agreed to hold a one-day meeting of the 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) on Monday, March 9, to adopt key agreements, postponing the substantive segments of the meeting to a later date. IWHC supports the decision to prioritize global health and the safety of participants, and urges the leadership of the Commission to ensure that feminist organizations and activists have the opportunity to engage with governments on issues critical to advance of gender equality.

“The outbreak of the Coronavirus forced a difficult choice for the Commission on the Status of Women,” said IWHC President Françoise Girard. “The global feminist movement has been clear that a one-day, New York-based diplomat only session on March 9 would be inadequate and would shut the voices of women’s groups out of the world’s largest annual meeting on gender equality. We are therefore heartened to see that Members States are listening and envisioning a resumed CSW later this year. CSW is too important—particularly this year as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and work to drive commitments to a new, urgent and bold agenda for gender equality—to continue without centering the voices of the feminist movement.”

As the largest annual global meeting on gender equality, CSW has long served as an important moment to advance gender equality and secure ongoing commitments to end gender-based discrimination. It remains a critical space for the feminist movement to come together and collectively advocate directly to governments for policies that advance the rights of women, girls, and marginalized populations worldwide.

This year’s session, which commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, takes on heightened importance as it serves as a venue for feminist movements and governments to recommit to realize this landmark agreement. The CSW needs to be given the full time, as initially designed, in order to allow activists from around the world to come together with governments and meet their goals.

In response to discussions about dramatically shortening the event, IWHC and 498 feminist organizations worldwide submitted a letter to UN Women calling for the postponement of CSW. It is promising that this perspective was echoed by governments that acknowledged that CSW cannot occur without engaging the feminist movement.

“Engagement with civil society, and specifically the feminist movement, is core to the mission and impact of CSW and must be supported even in these difficult times.” said Girard.

IWHC is hopeful that 2020 will deliver significant gains for gender equality. In May and July UN Women will convene the Generation Equality Forums, co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France, to mobilize bold political and financial commitments to advance gender equality. These Forums will see the launch of Action Coalitions, innovative cross-sector partnerships with the power to accelerate progress across six key issue areas, including: gender-based violence; economic justice and rights; bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights; feminist action for climate justice; technology and innovation for gender equality; and feminist movements and leadership. IWHC will continue to work with the feminist movement to ensure that our voices, concerns, and expertise are at the heart of a resumed CSW and the Generation Equality agenda.

Contact: Liza Kane-Hartnett; (+1) 917.498.3346

Photo: UN Photo/Manuel Elias

Update: A previous version of this release listed the incorrect number of organizations.