What is the Commission of the Status of Women, and why Oxfam is there

The Commission of the Status of Women (CSW), which runs from 12 to 23 March 2018 this year, is the global policy-making body concerning women's empowerment and gender equality issues. It sets norms and standards aimed at guiding government action to advance the status of women.

The CSW offers an important opportunity for Member States, International Institutions, and civil society to come together and call for urgent action to end gender inequality. It is a key moment for civil society to influence policy makers, and state actors to guarantee that gender equality commitments are maintained and avoid possible setbacks and an important opportunity for Oxfam to advance our work on gender justice.

A critical output of the session is the forming of Agreed Conclusions, negotiated by governments and aiming to present a consensus by the international community, on a set of principles and actions to be carried forward by governments, the United Nations and NGOs. Oxfam participates in CSW to advance debates on key issues and influence governments at the negotiations through consultations and by leading side events.

The theme for this year’s CSW is Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.

Oxfam will be bring the important perspective that rural women are not an homogenous group, and empowering rural women should not be focused on a singular identity. The heterogeneity of rural women and the challenges they face including multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination should be considered and solutions to advance gender equality for rural women tailored to address the different challenges faced by rural women and girls.

Globally, several challenges to the full realization of rural women's and girls rights persist. Women continue to face discrimination in access to education, work, social protection, inheritance, land and productive resources, participation in decision-making and gender-based violence inclusive. Moreover, sustainable development can only be realized if all forms of structural barriers and discriminatory laws on education, work, unpaid care, land and land-based resources, gender-based violence and social protection are eliminated.

Oxfam’s will focus on the following issues in our advocacy and side events:

1. Unpaid care work

Oxfam will promote policy solutions based on our research "Women’s Economic and Care-Evidence for Influencing” which shows that after adult women, girls provide the most hours of care work limiting their access to education and other rights.  The burden of care work is increased by inadequate policies that make access to services like water, education and health challenging for rural women and girls. To address this, Governments must recognize, redistribute, reduce unpaid work and ensure representation of women in policy discussions. Governments should further leverage the use of technologies to bridge the infrastructure gap and reduce the work burden for many domestic and care related chores. The burden of unpaid care work on women - graphic

2. Increasing financing for development in rural areas

Infrastructure, access to markets for small holder farmers, essential services: Rural women and girls cannot exist and thrive without appropriate infrastructure in place. Providing services to rural regions is both a matter of enabling them to participate in national development and a rights issue. Access to markets for small holder farmers among other essential services is key in realising inclusive development. Governments must therefore ensure allocation of budgets towards development of rural areas while ensuring that the needs of women and girls are prioritized.

3. Securing land and land tenure for rural women and girls

Land is not only a source of food, employment and income; it also gives social prestige and access to political power. Land has long been recognized as key to advancing the socio-economic rights and wellbeing of women and girls and their position in society. Yet access, control and ownership of land largely remains the domain of male privilege, entrenching patriarchal structures of power and control over community resources, history, culture and tradition. Securing rural women and girls land rights must take cognizance of the different challenges that rural women and girls encounter and seek to implement and enforce existing international, regional and national frameworks and instruments.

4. Taking action in accelerating implementation of instruments

A number of progressive International, Regional and National frameworks and instruments exist to ensure inclusion of women and girls, however, the slow implementation continues to deny women the privilege to enjoy these gains. The is an urgent need to take on the effective and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which will make a crucial contribution to the gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

5. Sexual and reproductive health rights and Ending VAWG

Globally, the health of women and girls has seen a significant improvement over the last two decades. However slow pace of progress is reflected in many countries who could not realize the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Five on improving maternal health especially the Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRHR).  The discrimination that women and girls face as far as SRHR, Female Genital Mutilation and Forced and Early Child Marriage (FECM) are cross cutting and compounding issues with regards to women’s rights. Sub Saharan Africa has some of the worst statistics on SRHR and child marriage.

Oxfam will be taking the messages from our ENOUGH Campaign to End Violence Against Women and Girls and experiences from our program countries to CSW including engaging on the impacts of women’s economic empowerment on the prevalence of domestic violence; the intersectional effect that violence has on the life of women; and the impact of FECM and the empowerment of rural women and girls.

See below for a list of Oxfam’s side events.

  • Rural Women’s Leadership: Development Practices & Movement Building to Secure Land Rights - Huairou Commission, ILC, GLTN, Oxfam (12th March, 2018,10:30 AM, Salvation Army,  Auditorium 1)
  • What Works to Tackle Early Child Marriage & Empower Rural Women and Girls?: International Development Research Centre (Canada), Oxfam, Women in Law and Development (Africa), BRAC University, Innovation for Poverty Action (12th of March12.30 pm , 4 W. 43rd Street, Blue Room)
  • Women Land Rights: Steps and Strategies for Empowerment of Rural Women girls:  WILDAF, OXFAM, ILC, GLII (12th March, 2.30pm, 4 W 43rd Street, Room: Social Hall,)
  • Transformative Approaches To Achieve Women's Tenure Security At Scale: The Relation Between Equal Land Rights And Women's Empowerment In Rural Africa –  European Union, Germany, Finland (13th March 10:00 AM-11:15 AM, GA Building Conference Room)
  • Silent Tears - Disability, Violence, And Survival Of Rural Women Globally: UN Women National Committee Australia and Blue Projects International with co-hosts European Disability Forum and Oxfam (13th March 2018, 12:30 – 2pm Social Hall 4 West 43rd Street,)
  • Empowering Rural Women and Girls: A Feminist Approach: (March 13th 3:00  PM to 4:15 PM, UN Conference Room 1) Government of Canada
  • Boosting Livelihood Improvements Through Women’s and Girl’s Empowerment and Leadership, Oxfam (13th March, 2018, 4:30 PM 4 W 43rd Street Room: Green Room)
  • Promoting Rural Women's Leadership and Gender Equality: Leave No Women and Girls Behind: Beyond Beijing Committee- Nepal, National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF), Justice for All (J4A), Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO) (14 March 2018, The Armenian Convention Center, Yerevan Hall,)
  • Agree to Agri: Unearthing the Power of Rural Women (15 March 2018, 6:30pm-7:45pm Conference Room 11)
  • Contemporary solutions for the feminist movement in Russia: Petersburg Feminist Collective (16 March, 8-30 am , Salvation Army 221St)

This entry posted by Kim Henderson, Oxfam Gender Justice Lead, on 12 March 2018.

Photo: Luz Evelia Godines Solano in her coffee nursery plot, in the peasant community of La Chiripa, Nicaragua. She produces Tierra Madre coffee, marketed in Spain. Credit: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam

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