18 February 2011
Economic and Social Council
WOM/1839

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Background Release


Commission on Status of Women to Promote Access to Education, Training, Science,

 

Technology during Fifty-fifth Session at Headquarters, 22 February-4 March

 


The Commission on the Status of Women will hold its fifty-fifth session at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 22 February to 4 March 2011, two weeks that will bring together Government officials and representatives of the United Nations, civil society, the media and the private sector.


Besides sharing experiences and good practices, the participants will also agree on priority actions to deal with persisting obstacles and new challenges to the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in order to accelerate progress towards equality between women and men.  The session’s priority theme is “Access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work”.


The session will welcome the establishment of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), which merges four previously distinct parts of the Organization focused exclusively on gender equality and women’s empowerment.  UN Women became fully operational on 1 January 2011.


Under Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, the new Entity will support intergovernmental bodies like the Commission in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms.  It will also help Member States implement these standards, standing ready to provide them with suitable technical and financial support upon request, and to forge effective partnerships with civil society.  Another main role will be to promote accountability within the United Nations system for its own commitments on gender equality, including regular monitoring of system-wide progress.


The fifty-fifth session will open at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 22 February, in the General Assembly Hall.  At 10 a.m. the following day, a panel will discuss key policy initiatives on gender equality, science and technology.  A second panel discussion, at 3 p.m. the same day, will focus on key policy initiatives on gender equality, education and training.


A lunchtime panel on rural women as drivers of poverty and hunger eradication will be held at 1 p.m. on Thursday, 24 February.  A third panel will discuss progress on eliminating discrimination and violence against girls, at 10 a.m. on Friday, 25 February.  The Commission will hold a panel discussion on gender equality and sustainable development at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 1 March.  A fifth panel, at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 1 March, will focus on the elimination of preventable maternal deaths.


The Commission is expected to adopt the draft report on its fifty-fifth session before concluding on the afternoon of Friday, 4 March.


While girls and women have made significant inroads in education, those gains have not translated fully into increased employment opportunities and better quality jobs.  Women face specific barriers, including discriminatory laws, restrictive social norms, limited access to information and social networks, and unequal sharing of responsibilities within the household.


Science education is essential since the global economy is increasingly knowledge-driven and requires an educated workforce, able to apply existing technology and develop new technologies to combat poverty and adapt to emerging issues such as climate change.  Ensuring that women acquire the necessary skills and competencies in science and technology is an economic imperative; it also empowers women and girls to make informed decisions on critical aspects of their lives.


The ratio of girls’ to boys’ enrolment in schools has steadily improved, reaching 97 girls to 100 boys at the primary level, 96 girls to 100 boys at the secondary level and 108 women to 100 men at the tertiary level in 2008.  However, women still make up nearly two thirds of the world’s 759 million illiterate adults.


At the tertiary level, women now dominate some sub-fields of science, particularly life sciences and social sciences.  Less progress has been made in engineering.  In 2007, the global median share of female university students was 21 per cent in engineering, manufacturing and construction.


Female participation in the labour force was estimated at 52.6 per cent in 2008, compared with a male rate of 77.5 per cent.  Among adults 20 to 24 years old, women continue to lag behind men in labour-force participation in all regions.


Two reports of the Secretary-General explore the session’s priority theme.  They are available for download in the six official United Nations languages at www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/csw55/documentation.htm.


Some 60 side events organized by Member States and United Nations entities will be held in and around the venue, covering a wide-range of current issues related to gender equality.  For a complete listing, see www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/csw55/parallel-list.html.


For some 250 side events hosted by non-governmental organizations, see www.ngocsw.org/parallel-events.


For the provisional list of speakers,see www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/ csw/55sess.htm.


Press Contacts:   Gretchen Luchsinger, UN Women, +1 212 906 6506, +1 201 736 2945 (cell), gretchen.luchsinger@unwomen.org; and Charlotte Scaddan, United Nations Department of Public Information, +1 917 367 9378, scaddan@un.org.


For United Nations press accreditation, visit www.un.org/media/accreditation.


For live webcast, visit: www.un.org/webcast.


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For information media • not an official record