As the spotlight falls on rural women and girls during the Commission on the Status of Women 2018, focus turns to critical issues such as ensuring adequate living standards, food and nutrition, access to land, technology, education, health, and ending all forms of violence and harmful practices.
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka explains: “At the heart of leaving no one behind, is leaving no one out. One of the single most impactful contributions to achieving the 2030 Agenda would be to level inequalities for women and girls in rural areas. Significant progress for them is progress for the whole Agenda, and for the world.”
Pat Black joined over 90 Soroptimist delegates in New York, and as they settle in to ensure the voices of women and girls are rightfully heard, Pat brings us details of the Opening Ceremony which took place on 12 March 2018.
“Well we finally got in – Theresa Lyford, President Soroptimist International of the South West Pacific, Margaret Clark, Soroptimist International of Great Britain & Ireland, Assistant Programme Director of Advocacy and myself. Getting tickets to be admitted was like mining for gold! Then security was fiercesome to get through!
The Chair for CSW62 was announced formally as Ambassador to Republic of Ireland, Her Excellency, Geraldine Byrne Nasso, and was followed by further announcements of other Commission positions. Although so many people fight to get into the Opening Session, as it is seen as significant, most of the business is not contentious, since it is mainly covering the formalities of the governance of the work for the next two weeks. One of the most important appointments after the Chair, is that of facilitator for the negotiations on the Agreed Conclusions. As with most of this work for this session, agreements have been reached in advance and the confirmations are formalities, including the agenda and rules for the way in which the Commission will conduct its business.
Many important people including the new Chair, the UN Secretary General and the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, made opening statements in support of the work of the Commission. The session delivered many memorable quotes from all the speakers, including: “We need agreed conclusions and agreements – had enough rhetoric”, “The time is opportune, we will no longer take second place“, “The central question is power – it needs to be given not taken” and “We know the meaning of women’s rights – we just need them”. There were dozens of contributions from around the globe, all asserting their commitment to the progress of women and to the achievement of SDG #5. Let’s just see if quote #1 above can be achieved!”
In her opening statement, Phumzile said: “Worldwide, almost one-third of employed women work in agriculture. There are 400 million women who are farm workers. They mainly work as smallholder farmers and agricultural and informal workers with little or no social protection, and almost no visibility. The world eats every day because they toil”. She went on to say: “Women in rural areas need innovative technology and connectivity; infrastructure that brings sanitation, clean drinking water, energy and transport, and that supports productivity and mobility. They need access to credit, climate justice, markets and high value agrifood chains. They need an end to discriminatory laws and norms that sustain harmful cultural practices like female genital mutilation and early and forced marriages. They need respect for sexual and reproductive health and rights. And they need an end to violence in all its forms”.
You can find the transcript and video of Phumzile’s speech HERE