Engaging at the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women - Equality Now
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Engaging at the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women

Each year in March, representatives of governments and civil society organizations from around the world gather at the United Nations to focus on the status of rights and empowerment of all women and girls, everywhere.

Equality Now, with representatives from our Europe and Americas offices, as well as country consultants from Georgia and Russia, despite the difficulties some faced in obtaining visas from the United States, actively participated in the 63rd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, which thousands of women and girls gathered for in New York City from 11-22 March 2019.

The highlight for Equality Now included meeting up with many of our partner organizations from all over the country and the world, as well as taking part in several high-level panels, to further our advocacy on our major programs and campaigns:

  • Our Global Executive Director, Yasmeen Hassan, moderated the standing-room only launch of a new initiative sponsored by UN Women, Equality in Law for Women and Girls by 2030: A Multistakeholder Strategy for Accelerated Action” on 20 March. The initiative will address six key areas — comprehensive legal reforms, economic empowerment, discriminatory or low minimum age of marriage provisions, ending gender discrimination in nationality laws, addressing discriminatory rape laws and promoting equality in family relations and Equality Now is serving on the Advisory Committee. The UN Web TV video of the event can be found here.

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Equality Now Executive Director Yasmeen Hassan at CSW 2019.

  • Our Americas Director, Shelby Quast, spoke at the packed “Preventing the Trafficking of Women and Girls for Sexual Exploitation: Understanding States’ Obligations to Address Demand Under the Palermo Protocol” high-level side event organised by OSCE/ODIHR, UNODC, Equality Now and the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women on 14 March. The UN Web TV video of the event can be found here.

  • Our Global Lead for Legal Equality & Access to Justice, Antonia Kirkland, spoke to the need for a culture of accountability, not impunity, at UN Women’s high-level side event, “What cultural change is needed to consign sexual harassment to the dustbin of history?” in the ECOSOC Chamber on 19 March. The UN Web TV video of the event which included the UN Under-Secretary-General for Management, the Executive Director of UN Women as well as government representatives and other civil society leaders, can be found here.

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Equality Now Global Lead for Legal Equality & Access to Justice, Antonia Kirkland at CSW 2019.

  • On 11 March, our Human Rights Attorney, Kate Kelly, moderated the “Let’s Pass the Equal Rights Amendment!” event sponsored by Katrina’s Dream, and Antonia Kirkland spoke at an event sponsored by the Swedish Women’s Lobby, “A Gender Mainstreamed Welfare State - a vaccine against segregation and extremism!”. In addition, Shelby Quast spoke at an event sponsored by Finally Girls Matter, “End violence against women and girls in the world in the context of Female Genital Mutilation & Women’s Empowerment and Reproductive Rights” on 18 March.

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Left to Right: Equality Now Human Rights Attorney Kate Kelly, ERA Coalition CEO Carol Jenkins, and Dean for Master’s Programs and Professor of Sociology at CUNY Dr. Julie Chi-Hye Suk.

We also took the opportunity CSW provided to organize and circulate for sign-on a letter in support of women’s human rights defenders in Iran and Saudi Arabia. The letter calls on governments of Muslim majority countries to raise their voices to support equality for women, recognize the critical role that women’s rights defenders play in this regard, and condemn the imprisonment and torture of women human rights defenders.

Having met so many fantastic activists, connected with far-flung colleagues, interacted with UN, government and civil society leaders, and looked at women’s and girls’ right from a fresh perspective, we are leaving CSW re-energized and ready to take our work forward in anticipation of the anniversaries of the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action and Sustainable Development Goals in 2020. Join us!