Conclusions of the 58th Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations


The 58th Session Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) concluded in New-York on 21 March 2014. During the session, the local authorities’ delegation - UCLG World Secretariat and the President of REFELA (Network of Local Elected Women of Africa) a member of the UCLG Standing Committee on Gender Equality - successfully advocated on governance and participation of women in decision making processes at all levels, and in particular at the local level.

Local authorities’ advocacy

At the formal interactive panel on “accountability and participation of women and girls for implementation of the MDGs”, Ms. Fatimetou Mint Abdel Malick, Mayor of Tevragh-Zeina, Mauritania and President of REFELA highlighted that, disappointingly, there had not been enough attention given to the key role of local governance as providers of the basic environment to promote development and equity. She therefore called upon States to ensure local authorities are provided with the legal, technical and financial capacities to implement local gender-responsive policies, in particular given the increasingly urban world that is giving way to new types of inequalities that must be addressed at local and regional level.

The key role of women and the importance of gender-responsive local governance in the achievement of sustainable development was also the center of the discussions at the roundtable, hosted by the Ford Foundation, introducing the new global partnership between UN Women, UN-Habitat, the Huairou Commission and UCLG. Building on the long-standing collaboration with women’s grassroots organizations’ associations of elected women and local governments across the world, and on the great potential of local action to achieving transformative change, this new partnership will contribute to the efforts of implementing the Post-2015 development agenda at the local level by strengthening women constituencies and their engagement in the decision making processes at the local level.

This partnership and the related programme were officially launched during the World Urban Forum Gender Equality Action Assembly on Monday 7 April by the Heads of the four organisations (watch event at 1.30 here).

Conclusions adopted by the Commission: a quick analysis

Overall the Commission noted that, although substantial progress has been made in many fields, no country has achieved equality for women and girls. The feminisation of poverty persists and the commission points out that women and girls face greater vulnerability to extreme poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition. Furthermore, it raises that the missed goals will have serious implications for women and girls, and more specifically for those living in vulnerable conditions. The Commission therefore called for both a stand-alone goal on gender equality and women empowerment and to mainstream a gender-sensitive approach through targets and indicators into all goals of any new development framework.

The recommendations of these meetings therefore call upon Governments at all levels, along with civil society, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, employer organizations, trade unions, media and other relevant actors, to address 5 key areas for development, among which two are particularly pertinent from local and regional perspectives.

  • Realizing women’s and girls’ full enjoyment of all human rights - reaffirming the need to ensure non-discriminatory gender-responsive access to, among others, high quality services and infrastructure, safe drinking water and sanitation, transport, energy, housing etc.
  • Strengthening the enabling environment for gender equality and the empowerment of women with particular focus on international cooperation, including the role of North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation on shared development priorities with the involvement of all relevant stakeholders in government, civil society and the private sector.
  • Maximizing investments in gender equality and the empowerment of women
  • Strengthening the evidence-base for gender equality and the empowerment of women
  • Ensuring women’s participation and leadership at all levels and strengthening accountability with focus on the participation in and contributions of women at all levels of decision-making.

Local authorities’ highlights:

We welcome the recognition of provision of basic services as a mean of ensuring greater equality (dd.). However, we regret the Commission failed to acknowledge local authorities crucial role in basic services’ delivery.

We also welcome the great place given to governance, including the request to “ensure women’s full and equal participation in decision making at all levels” (tt ; ggg, iii). Good governance, a key element in the implementation and realisation of the future sustainable development agenda, needs the increased participation of women in decision-making.

We also support the call for “encouraging the mainstreaming of a gender perspective into development policies at all levels in all sectors”(jj).


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