June 2019 NGO CSW Meeting Recap

By: Anna Farber

June’s NGO CSW meeting was eventful and productive! It kicked off with the elections for the new Executive Committee, which is set to be chaired Houry Geudelekian. We thank Susan O’Malley, who has been the chair for the last four years, for all of her incredible work. Other election results are upcoming on the NGO CSW website, here. After that, NGO CSW members got to participate in a program about setting aims for the next year as we anticipate the 25th anniversary of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted at the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women as an agenda for women’s empowerment and ensuring gender equality in all spheres. 25 years later, NGO CSW is looking to see what progress has been made and what goals are still left to achieve. 
    After elections, the meeting began on how to set intentions for the next year of work. Speakers included Patricia Cortes, the Project Coordinator of the Beijing +25 Program, who discussed strategies to keep the NGO CSW on track in light of the upcoming 25th anniversary. Soon-Young Yoon from the International Alliance of Women debriefed the 2019 Vancouver Women Deliver Conference as well as the Tunis forum on gender equality and discussed how conferences like Women Deliver and CSW serve as feminist spaces. She also emphasized the importance of making climate and habitat conferences into feminist spaces. She also made sure to emphasize how social justice movements, especially within the UN, intersect and overlap ideologically even when the institutional frameworks divide them. The third and final speaker was Marisa Viana, the executive coordinator of RESURJ. Viana went over how RESURJ uses reproductive rights as a cross-cutting issue to address the concerns of the global south– specifically Africa and Latin America. All three speakers emphasized that, even though great strides have been made, there remains much work to be done. 
    The meeting ended with Joanne Sandler from Gender@Work and Priya Kvam from Breakthrough leading an exercise on how to best focus the efforts of the NGO CSW by focusing ourselves. The goal of this exercise was, through brainstorming together, to maximize the “collaborative advantage” of the CSW. The presenters broke the room into seven groups, on climate, peace and security, girls, women’s health and reproductive rights, violence against women, and other, which notably included financing for feminist development. In the groups, everyone had a chance to meditate on strides that had already been taken to improve the issues at hand, as well as to suggest future projects and focuses for the NGO CSW to take on in order to bolster that progress.
    This next year is important, with not only the 25th anniversary of Beijing coming up but also the 75th anniversary of the UN’s founding. Renewing our commitment to feminism and women’s empowerment is a great way to set intentions for how to continue to promote gender equality.