Africa brings CSW65 home

Date: Tuesday, March 30, 2021


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The 65th Commission on the Status of Women, the UN’s largest annual gathering on gender equality and women’s empowerment, took place 15 to 26 March as an almost entirely virtual session. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, world leaders delivered a robust blueprint on strengthening women’s leadership and participation in public life ahead of the Generation Equality Forum kick-off in Mexico (29 - 31 March). 

Ahead of CSW65, UN Women, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) convened the Pre-CSW65 Africa Virtual Regional Consultations on 22-23 and 26 February 2021, which led to the adoption of the Africa Common Position to CSW65.

Speaking at the technical consultation on 22 February, Roberta Clarke, UN Women Acting Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, called upon States that have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to honor their obligations. 

“CSW is important. It strengthens, if we let it, our political will to equality, justice and human rights. We know that there is resistance to this agenda and that resistance is often offered up in the name of tradition, custom and religion. But it is now well established that culture cannot be invoked to justify discrimination. Multilateralism is our best bet for addressing existential challenges, whether it is the pandemic; indebtedness; conflict; environmental degradation; or the climate crisis, all of which affect women and girls in particular and specific ways.”

Africa responded to the call. The Africa Common Position adopted by the Ministers of Gender and Women’s Affairs on 26 February ensured an AU Member States’ common position and outlined priority actions to advance the gender equality priorities, existing commitments and key messages in relation to the CSW65 priority theme “Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.” During the official session of CSW65, the African Group was actively involved in the negotiations of the CSW65 Agreed Conclusions and influenced its final outcome.

Responding to UN Women’s call to "bring CSW home," during the month of March many countries organized national consultations to discuss the CSW65 priority theme, review progress and examine remaining challenges, including Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

During CSW65, many official side events focused on Africa, including the event on Women’s Political Participation in Africa organized by International IDEA and the side event on the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) National Chapters Driving Women’s Leadership in Africa.