Delegations, advocacy and representation at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
As a network organization, BCCIC regularly convenes its membership, global partners, and the larger British Columbia community for delegations to meetings at various levels, including the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). We have also had several delegates participate in the Mexico Generation Equality Forum (29-31 March 2021) and the Paris Generation Equality Forum (30 June – 2 July 2021).
BCCIC has hosted several intergenerational delegations to CSW, which is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. It was established in 1946 as a functional ECOSOC commission and in 1996 its role was expanded to monitoring and reviewing the progress of UN member states.
During the Commission’s annual two-week session, representatives of UN Member States, civil society organizations and UN entities gather at UN headquarters (or virtually during pandemics) in New York. They discuss progress and gaps in the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the key global policy document on gender equality, and the 23rd special session of the General Assembly held in 2000 (Beijing+5), as well as emerging issues that affect gender equality and the empowerment of women. Member States negotiate further actions to accelerate progress and promote women’s enjoyment of their rights in political, economic, and social fields, and this is concluded with a published set of Agreed Conclusions.
BCCIC hosted a large and diverse delegation (45 persons) to the 65th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March 2021. The priority theme of this event was women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as in the elimination of violence for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. Women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development was also reviewed based on agreed conclusions of the sixtieth session.
In addition to participating actively in the official events and side-events, the CSW65 delegates contributed to a review of the draft Agreed Conclusions and participated in several meetings about ongoing negotiations hosted by the UNCSW team at Women and Gender Equality Canada. Furthermore, delegates contributed to a comprehensive gender equality public engagement campaign. Prior to, during and after the event, the delegates submitted blogs, articles, working papers and impact videos in which they reflected on the key themes of CSW65 and the impact of this experience.
In 2020, BCCIC selected a delegation of 13 impressive women to attend CSW64, which was unfortunately cancelled due to Covid-19. However, the delegation continued to collaborate on several awareness-raising and policy outputs. This included a series of media interviews and blog posts, a detailed review of the CSW64 Political Declaration and an in depth case study report. This report showcased the delegates’ innovative projects in the gender equality sector, as well as those of other members, and provided a comprehensive set of recommendations and lessons learnt. Some delegates presented their case studies in a “Groundtruths” webinar series, which enhanced the capacity of other BCCIC members to strengthen and implement gender equality strategies with intersectionality in mind.
BCCIC first sent delegates to CSW63 in 2019, and produced an Impact Report in which they reflected on what they learnt from this experience.
All delegates are selected from BCCIC’s volunteers, staff and board, as well as organizational and individual members. The delegates do not speak on behalf of BCCIC nor did they represent all women, men and persons with diverse genders and sexual identities in British Columbia.
This is an opportunity for BCCIC members in particular to participate in the CSW alongside hundreds of fellow Canadians and many tens of thousands of people from around the world, all gathering to celebrate and learn together. Delegates gain knowledge and skills from each other, from the other delegates and from officials attending the CSW.
The Commission on the Status of Women and the Generation Equality Forums are dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. At BCCIC we believe that in order to achieve these goals, everyone needs a seat at the table.
It is important to us personally and professionally that our delegations are positive, fruitful emotionally safe spaces for people to dialogue and grow our perspectives. The guidelines developed by youth entitled Youth Voices, Powerful Choices: Guidelines for the Selection and Support of Youth Delegates proved to be a very useful guidance document when coordinating this event with intersectionality and diversity in mind.
BCCIC’s delegations to CSW have traditionally been intergenerational to encourage mutual learning, reverse mentorship, diverse perspectives and innovative thought. Youth have an important voice and have emerged as key partners for BCCIC’s policy unit, and they play an important role in our delegations.
Youth delegates are encouraged to share success stories of youth changemakers in their public engagementt contributions, including through blog posts and social media. For CSW65, youth participated in a “Choosing to Challenge” post-delegation youth webinar, which was hosted in partnership with the University of Fraser Valley. They were informed about capacity development initiatives targeting youth (such as the Youth Preparation Series offered by the CSW NGO Forum) and the BCCIC youth-led webinar held on March 11, 2021.