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The 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, held from March 9th through the 20th, celebrated the 20 year anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, considered by many to be one of the most progressive blueprints for advancing women’s rights. The CSW this year reflected on the progress that has been made since the Beijing Platform of Action was adopted, as well as the gaps and challenges that remain.
This year, Loretto at the UN sponsored students from Nerinx Hall High School in St. Louis, Missouri, St. Mary’s Academy in Denver, Colorado, Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado, and we were happy to welcome members from our partner community, the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and two of their students from Bishop Garcia Diego High School in Santa Barbara, California. In addition, Loretto community members and friends of Loretto joined during the first week of the Commission.
On March 8th, International Women’s Day, hundreds of youth delegates from around the world gathered for Teen Orientation, hosted by the Working Group on Girls. Delegates learned about the history of the Beijing Platform for Action from women who attended the Fourth World Conference on Women, and discussed the importance of the 12 sections of the Platform for Action, especially Section L: The Girl Child. The keynote speaker was UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who highlighted the progress that has been made since 1995, especially the education of girls, and spoke about the vital role of girls in the work that remains for achieving gender equality. After orientation, delegates participated in the UN Women March for Gender Equality & Women’s Rights in downtown Manhattan.
Highlights during the CSW included the Girl-Boy Dialogue sponsored by the Working Group on Girls, the Intergenerational Dialogue at the US Mission and two sessions on women challenging extractive industries sponsored by the Mining Working Group. UN Women held an event called “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it Up for Gender Equality,” which called for a world where all women and girls have equal opportunities and rights by 2030, including speeches from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka, President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleef, Hillary Clinton, Melinda Gates, Patricia Arquette and many more.
Nerinx Hall student Megan was a member of the core group of girl delegates who wrote the Girls’ Statement to the Commission on the Status of Women, delivered to the Commission during the second week. You can read the statement here, or watch it below.
In addition to all the events related to the CSW, Loretto at the UN was pleased to celebrate with organizations at the United Nations who have reached great milestones this year. The celebration of the Working Group on Girls’ 20th birthday included a keynote address by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee, and Loretto Co-member Rosa Lizarde’s Feminist Task Force celebrated their 10th anniversary.