The Commission on the Status of Women had a revitalized role to play in ensuring the 2030 “expiry date” for gender inequality across the world, as laid out in the Political Declaration adopted last week, said the United Nations top gender official at the closing of its fifty-ninth session today.
“Based on the road we have travelled and the challenges ahead of us, we know that we must still work systematically and relentlessly to bring about transformation in our families, societies, economies and political and public spaces”, said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women).
The Declaration strongly reaffirmed the landmark 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, including by strengthening the involvement of civil society in the Commission’s work and by setting the tangible expiry date for gender inequality, she said, adding that it included ministers’ pledges to take a number of concrete steps. Those included strengthening the implementation of laws, policies and strategies, increasing support for institutional mechanisms, addressing discriminatory norms and stereotypes and significantly raising investments for gender equality to close resource gaps. Those efforts must represent “a building block” to ending gender inequality as the new sustainable development goals were implemented, she stressed.
Reflecting on the two-week session, Commission Chair Kandra Vajarabhaya said by adopting the Political Declaration, the Commission had reaffirmed its commitment to accelerating the pace of achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment, as well as the realization of the human rights of women and girls. She also highlighted the shared experiences of progress on the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the remaining challenges.
“Through this process,” she said, “we have learned that gaps remain.” Continuing, she said the session had also been remarkable in its action to strengthen the Commission’s future working methods, which ensured that it would have an important role to play in the follow-up to the post-2015 development agenda, she said.
The Commission took action on four draft resolutions, sending two texts — on working methods and on Palestinian women — to the Economic and Social Council. Among those texts, it approved, without a vote, a draft resolution on the future organization and methods of work of the Commission on the Status of Women (document E/CN.6/2015/L.5), by which, among other things, the Economic and Social Council would decide that the Commission’s annual session would include a ministerial segment to reaffirm and strengthen political commitment for the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, as well as their human rights.
The Commission also approved a resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2015/L.2), by a recorded vote of 27 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 13 abstentions.
Prior to that vote, an observer for the State of Palestine said that her delegation had withdrawn its co-sponsorship for the text as it was also co-sponsored by South Africa, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, of which the State of Palestine was a member.
Several delegates spoke in explanation of position before the vote. Israel’s representative said the co-sponsors’ attack on Israel risked turning the forum into a politicized territory. If the text were balanced and factually accurate, it would mention the violence Palestinian terrorists inflicted on Israeli women, she said, adding that by calling for a vote, Israel was urging “all those who believed in the integrity and neutrality of the Commission” to vote against the text. The representative of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said he was deeply concerned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’s impact on all women in the region. While the text had addressed important issues, her country would abstain from voting as it had not entered into negotiations on its substance, she said, noting that country-specific elements in a resolution should be dealt with in the General Assembly.
After the vote, delegates explained their position. The United States’ representative said her delegation voted against the text because even though her country remained deeply committed to the Palestinian people, the Commission’s insistence on including political elements and one-sided condemnation detracted from the challenges at hand. Only through direct negotiations could parties address their differences, she stressed. In explaining his delegation’s abstention, Japan’s representative said that while his country was concerned about the situation of Palestinian women, the draft resolution seemed imbalanced.
In other matters, the Commission approved, without a vote, two draft resolutions, on the organization of the fifty-ninth session (document E/CN.6/2015/L.4) and on the provisional agenda and documentation for the sixtieth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (document E/CN.6/2015/L.3).
Taking note of a number of documents, the Commission considered the Secretary-General’s report on the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (document E/CN.6/2015/3) and a note transmitting to the Commission and to the Human Rights Council a UN-Women report on the activities of the United Nations Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women (document A/HRC/29/3 – E/CN.6/2015/6).
It also took note of reports of the Under-Secretary-General/Executive Director of UN-Women on the normative aspects of UN-Women’s work (document E/CN.6/2015/2) and of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on its fifty-fifth, fifty-sixth and fifty-seventh sessions (document A/69/38). The Chair’s summaries on the ministerial round tables (documents E/CN.6/2015/INF/1, E/CN.6/2015/INF/2, E/CN.6/2015/INF/3 and E/CN.6/2015/INF/4) and other panel discussions, as well as a letter from the President of the Economic and Social Council to the Commission Chair (document E/CN.6/2015/7) were also noted.
Also considered were notes by the Secretariat transmitting results from the fifty-eighth and fifty-ninth sessions of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (document E/CN.6/2015/9); on the discussion guide for ministerial round tables (document E/CN.6/2015/4); and on strengthening the Economic and Social Council (document E/CN.6/2015/8).
Closing the fifty-ninth session and immediately opening its sixtieth session, the Commission elected its new Chair, Antonio De Aguiar Patriota (Brazil). It also elected two Vice-Chairs for a two-year term beginning in 2016: Fatmaalzahraa Hassan Abdelaziz Abdelkawy (Egypt), from the Group of African States, and Sejla Durbuzović (Bosnia and Herzegovina), from the Eastern European States. The Commission decided to postpone the election of Vice-Chairs from the Asia-Pacific States and the Western European and Other States.