CSW65 Opening Session

Blog by Pat Black, SI Special Advisor to Advocacy

Usually it isn’t  easy to get into the opening session of CSW. It is often held in the main United Nations (UN) General Assembly hall which is very impressive but there has in the past been a limitation on the number of Civil Society delegates who could attend. The opening has been a showcase for the UN and its agencies demonstrating their support for women and their issues. It has been a ticketed event with perhaps only two tickets available for every ECOSOC registered organisation. When you have a delegation of 100 or so participants how do you chose who attends?

This year because CSW is virtual, everyone who wanted to attend the Opening Session were able to do so. It probably didn’t feel quite as grand as it would have done to be there in person but I appreciated being able to listen to some giants of the UN system. UN Representatives and Mission Ambassadors attended in person with very strict hygiene safety precautions in place.

Since the greetings and summaries presented in person or by video link took almost 2 hours, I am not going to try to record here everything which went on – you can watch it on catch up UN Web TV if you are interested.

However, some quotes from some amazing people impressed me.

Secretary-General António Gueterres has during his term in Office tried to change the culture in the UN, bringing women to the fore and in senior positions. It should therefore, not be a surprise that he stressed the need for more women in leadership positions.

“Now is the time to change course. Women’s equal participation is the game change we need.”

“Together, we have a chance to leave behind an entrenched exclusion and build a just and equal future”.

The President of the General Assembly challenged everyone to become ‘Gender Champions’.

“No woman should feel the need to justify her presence”

“No woman should be under threat, underpaid or underestimated”

“I urge you to be bold and emulate women’s resilience around the world”

A young woman from Brazil, Renata Koch Enga, representing the Youth Constituency on the UN Climate Change panel, recognised that young women were already taking the lead on climate change whilst women are highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change, especially in respect of natural disasters. She urged, “We need radical change now …. The clock is ticking.”

The Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, indicated this would be her final CSW as she completes her term of Office.  She presented the reports from the UN Secretary-General summarising the position on women in relation to the priority theme.

“Change is possible but political will is critical”

“Neither the pandemic nor the financial crisis should be deterrents to making progress in representation.”

“The pandemic has to be a major incentive for change”

“We must include young women – they are already in the streets leading movements.”

And so CSW65 was launched.

As always there were many inspirational moments to reflect on as the Ambassadors and staff filed out one by one as a COVID-19 safety measure.

Visit the SI NGO/CSW Exhibit Booth to connect with us.

Read the full Statement by António Guterres

“COVID-19 is a crisis with a woman’s face”


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