In 1995, representatives from 189 countries and thousands of women’s rights activists gathered in Beijing for the Fourth World Conference on Women. The outcome of this conference was the drafting of seminal documents supporting the rights of women everywhere — the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Adopted unanimously by the governments present, the Platform for Action remains the visionary standard by which progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment is measured.
2015 marks the 20th anniversary of this crucial component of the global agenda on women’s issues, and is the perfect moment to reflect on its impact and success. In March 2015, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the main United Nations policymaking body for gender equality and the advancement of women, will evaluate the Platform for Action’s effect on women worldwide over the past twenty years under the heading “Beijing+20.”
The Commission on the Status of Women
Established in 1946, CSW is a functional commission of the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) focusing on gender equality and advancement of women. CSW meets annually, and each year representatives of Member States as well as thousands of women from around the world gather at U.N. headquarters in New York City. The aim, according to U.N. Women, is to “evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide.”
United Methodist Women Participation
United Methodist Women will be actively participating in all aspects of the 2015 CSW59. We already submitted a formal advocacy statement to the commission, which will assess the key women’s rights issues we believe are incomplete and provide recommendations. We will also be networking with hundreds of other advocacy organizations to act as a united front at the U.N., building on our collective advocacy power to incite change. However, our primary goal is to bring the concerns of grassroots women to the global multilateral forum. Therefore, we have sponsored selected delegates from around the globe to join us in New York for CSW. They will bring their “on the ground” experience to the policymaking body concerning implementation of women’s advancement. They will also gain inspiration both from other delegates and the international community that they can bring back to their communities, supporting United Methodist Women’s principle of sustainable people-centered investment.
Listed below are just some of the individuals we have invited to join us in New York. A more complete list of delegates will be available soon.
Kwachu Justine Ngum of Cameroon is the co-founder and executive director of Women in Alternative Action, and has extensive experience promoting the political and economic rights of women and youth. She has been consulted by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs and the UN Development Programme to incorporate gender perspectives into the recent Arms Trade Treaty.
Fidelina Esperanza Cardona Mercado hails from Honduras, and works for National Women’s Commission of La Via Campesina in Honduras. She has primarily focused on local land rights for women; this simple legal step increases women’s sense of autonomy and benefits women’s and communities’ economic stability, a valuable local solution that can apply to global policy.
Nini Maisuradze, from Georgia, is a career journalist currently working in national television and radio in her country. She sees her crucial role in this job as raising awareness about women’s issues in the media.
Jennifer Meneses comes to New York from the Philippines, where she works with The United Methodist Church as the executive secretary of the Board of Women’s Work. She seeks to use CSW to further her vision of a world where injustices, violence, discrimination and oppression exist no more.
The Wesley Center in Japan will be sponsoring two individuals to join us, Mariko Yamaoka and Keiko Saito. Both are directors of women’s organizations in Japan, and hope to use their UN involvement to enrich their women’s programming.
Scranton Women's Leadership Center in Seoul will be sponsoring three delegates: Sonnya Yoo from the United States, Kelly Lee from Korea, and Andrea Reily Rocha from Brazil.
In addition to these individuals, we also welcome Carol Burnett, executive director of Moore Community House, which is a local mission agency of United Methodist Women serving poor and low income multi-ethnic families with young children in east Biloxi, Miss., and Catherine Akale, United Methodist Women Regional Missionary from Cameroon.
Though there has been progress on the issue of women’s rights since the Beijing Declaration in 1995, we have much work left to do. We look forward to the perspective and expertise all of our delegates will bring to CSW59, and the ways the Beijing+20 review will further advance women’s rights in the years to come.