CSW68 Brings Progress and Challenges for Gender Equality

Marides Santos SSpS

The 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) took place from March 11-22 at the United Nations headquarters, convening government leaders, civil society representatives, and other stakeholders to review progress and challenges related to gender equality and women’s empowerment globally.

With the priority theme “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls,” CSW68 focused on addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing from a gender perspective. The review theme examined social protection systems, access to public services, and sustainable infrastructure. An emerging issue on artificial intelligence was also discussed in terms of advancing gender equality.

CSW68 Outcomes and Impact

The expected outcome of agreed conclusions on the priority theme was achieved after lengthy negotiations. The conclusions urge concrete action in areas like quality education, health care, social protection, unpaid care work, women’s participation in decision-making, and gender-responsive budgeting. There are concerns that the language was watered down compared to previous years. The conclusions will inform efforts like Beijing+30 in 2025.

There was emphasis on ensuring voices from the grassroots are heard, though some civil society representatives still faced barriers to accessing CSW68. Virtual participation options helped enable broader inputs. Young people highlighted the need for intergenerational dialogue.

The CSW68 discussions reflected global crises impacting gender equality, from climate change to conflict. There were calls to break down silos and take an intersectional approach across issues like peace, trade, tax justice and sustainable development.

Overall, CSW68 represented both progress and ongoing challenges in the struggle for gender equality and women’s rights globally. There is recognition that accelerated action is needed to meet goals like the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030. CSW68 advanced the conversation, but there is much work still to be done.

Key Events and Happenings

  • Ministerial roundtables on the priority and review themes allowed governments to share strategies and best practices. There was emphasis on gender-responsive policy-making.
  • Interactive dialogues created space for civil society voices. NGOs raised issues like reproductive rights, women’s leadership, social protection gaps, gender-based violence, and adequate financing.
  • Side events and parallel forums organized by UN agencies and NGOs enabled awareness-raising on diverse topics. Events addressed issues like women in politics, unpaid care work, women with disabilities, gender data, climate change, and women’s entrepreneurship.
  • The CSW68 Youth Forum brought together over 200 young leaders. They produced a declaration demanding bolder action and accountability from decision-makers.
  • Cultural events like photo exhibitions, film screenings, and art installations provided creative spaces for promoting gender equality.

Looking Ahead

CSW68 represented another milestone in the long journey towards gender equality globally. There were moments of inspiration, frustration, and candid dialogue. While progress was made, CSW68 reaffirmed the need for accelerated action, political will, and inclusive participation to fulfill the promise of gender equality for all women and girls. There will be much work ahead as the world moves towards Beijing+30 in 2025 and charts the future path for gender equality.

Marides Santos, VIVAT New York