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Gender Equality Department at the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women

A delegation from the Gender Equality Department headed by Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková, together with delegations from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, attended the 68th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, a major global gathering of more than 15,000 delegates from around the world. The Commission is one of the longest-standing UN bodies and played a key role in shaping the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year’s session took place from 11 to 22 March and focused on the protection of women from poverty.

The fight against female poverty was the main focus of this year's session

The session was opened by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. In his speech, he mentioned the impact of war, the growing poverty caused by climate change and new forms of discrimination related to the use of artificial intelligence systems. Yet there was also hope in his words as he pointed to the today’s historic moment when women make up half of the representatives in UN decision-making bodies, and stressed that greater representation of women in decision-making processes contributes to a more balanced, peaceful and prosperous society.

The annual session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the largest annual UN meeting dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment. This year’s main theme was Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective. More than 400 million women (10.3 % of the female population) worldwide today live in extreme poverty and are poorer than men. Unless poverty eradication is significantly accelerated, the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals is at risk. An additional $360 billion a year is needed to ensure gender equality and eliminate hunger and poverty. Investment in policies and programmes to reduce gender inequality and the promotion of women’s leadership brings huge results. Indeed, if countries prioritise education and family planning, fair and equal wages and strengthening their social security systems, more than 100 million girls and women will escape poverty. Investment in care services has the potential to create up to 300 million jobs by 2035. Closing the gender employment gap can then increase GDP per capita in all regions by 20 %.

CSW68 is a forum for debate for government representatives, civil society organisations, experts and women activists from around the world who share the common goal of advocating for policies and investments that will help eradicate women’s poverty and promote gender equality.

Boys don't cry: the role of men in combating violence

As part of the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, we co-hosted a side event in New York with Mexico and Australia entitled Boys don’t cry: the role of men in combating violence. We deliberately referred to the title of a famous song by The Cure that works with gender stereotypes about masculinity. Our debate attracted not only by its provocative title but also by its important content and great engagement of panellists. The topic was the role of men in preventing and combating violence. The debate was introduced by Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Lipavský and president of the National Women’s Institute of Mexico Nadine Gasman. In her speech, the Government’s Human Rights Commissioner Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková reminded the audience that in more than half of the cases of domestic violence, children are witnesses. The experience of such violence significantly increases the likelihood that children will perpetrate violence themselves as adults. The spiral of violence cannot be stopped without working with men who perpetrate violence.

“No child is born violent. Children learn violence from their environment. We often send signals to men that violence is all right, that they must endure violence as boys in order to be strong. This is wrong,” summarised Barbora Jakobsen from the Norwegian NGO Alternatives to Violence.

"Men who care for children, their loved ones and the environment around them are changing - they are more empathetic and less violent."

Nadine Gasman, president of the National Women's Institute of Mexico

"Over 50 % of men have trouble expressing their emotions. They don't know how to express sadness or love. Because we haven't taught them to. On the contrary, we teach them that their masculinity is defined by violence and aggression."

Gary Barker, Director of Equimundo

The role of women in post-war Ukraine

In 2022, Ukraine experienced a significant economic downturn with GDP falling by a third, with deep declines in housing, construction (68 %) and other sectors. Women’s share of the labour market is 15.1% lower than men’s; 72 % of registered unemployed are women, while women’s childcare burden increases with the war. 75 % of the population report a decline in income in 2023 compared to pre-war levels, and poverty levels are rising significantly. The economy has slightly recovered in 2023 due to fiscal stimulus and international aid, but a return to pre-war levels of production has not been achieved. The cost of post-war reconstruction is estimated at $411 billion. Businesses founded by women account for half of new firms. Reconstruction plans emphasise equal opportunities. As part of the Czech support to Ukraine, together with other partners, we supported a debate on a Ukrainian side-event titled The role of women in post-war Ukraine. During the panel debate, the Government Commissioner for Human Rights, Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková stressed that the Czech  priorities are in line with the European Union’s plans. In order to help Ukraine in its recovery, reconstruction and modernisation efforts, the EU will launch a new programme for 2024-2027 with financial support of up to €50 billion

Co-Chairmanship of Pathfinders initiative

From mid-2024, Czechia will co-chair the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies initiative, which aims to bring together states, the civil sector and academia to address social inequalities, violence and lack of access to justice.

This follows President Petr Pavel’s commitment to support this initiative during his visit to the UN last year. Pathfinders seek to identify the best approaches to address global challenges related to inequality and violence and provide relevant data and information for public policy-making. For instance, they have produced a study for Switzerland on the economic impact of partner violence, and other studies are looking at the nexus of inequality and violence.

During our meeting with Sarah F. Cliffe, we discussed violence prevention, mental health promotion, and challenges to human rights and democratic values. We agreed on concrete steps and plans are underway for intensive collaboration at the expert level, including a visit by the Pathfinders team to Prague. The initiative’s website can be found at: https://sdg16.plus/policy/.

Busy programme of the delegation

The Czech delegation actively participated in the debates and meetings during the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. Government Commissioner for Human Rights Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková and Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Lipavský held discussions with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on current human rights challenges not only in Europe but also in other parts of the world. The topic of the situation in Gaza and Ukraine was not omitted.

The Commissioner also participated in the Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Friends of Violence against Women and Girls, where the need to strengthen the prevention of violence, support for survivors and punishment of perpetrators was discussed. Violence must be eliminated in all its forms, online and offline, as the cost of violence against women can reach up to 2 % of global GDP.

At the EU ministerial meeting to discuss women’s poverty, the Commissioner proposed measures to reduce the burden on carers and make the division of care between men and women more equitable. She stressed the importance of increased support for single parents, an increase in care allowance and protection of women from violence.

Members of the Czech delegation also participated in bilateral meetings with the Philippines, Rwanda and representatives of the Council of Europe. Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Lipavský addressed the UN Security Council, where he reaffirmed the importance of the Women, Peace and Security agenda and delivered the national statement.

Differences in the human rights and gender equality situation among countries require a comprehensive approach. Czechia remains firmly committed to the fight against violence and discrimination. The Gender Equality Department takes away from this meeting much inspiration, new contacts and expertise for its future work.

Související

Související

Rada vlády pro rovnost žen a mužů schválila zprávu o plnění Akčního plánu prevence domácího a genderově podmíněného násilí na léta 2023–2026

Druhé letošní zasedání Rady vlády pro rovnost žen a mužů se konalo v úterý 14. května 2024. Rada schválila zprávu za minulý rok o plnění Akčního plánu prevence domácího a genderově podmíněného násilí na léta 2023–2026 a doporučila vládě analyzovat dopady tzv. konsolidačního balíčku na rovnost žen a mužů.

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