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Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations celebrates #CSW67’s Agreed Conclusions

The document includes priority areas the PC(USA) and Ecumenical Women had advocated for

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

The 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women occurred March 6-17. Representatives of UN Member States, civil society organizations and UN entities gather at UN headquarters in New York. Presbyterian Women and the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations hosted a large delegation, both in person and online.

LOUISVILLE — As the 67th Commission on the Status of Women came to a close earlier this month, a list of Draft Agreed Conclusions was adopted following a lengthy session that stretched into the early morning hours of March 18, said Sue Rheem, Representative to the United Nations and Director of the Presbyterian Ministry at the UN.

“The outcome document was quite comprehensive (meaning long) and included the priority areas that PC(USA) and Ecumenical Women had been advocating for,” Rheem said in an email. “We were particularly pleased that ‘faith-based organizations’ was included as part of the civil society organizations mentioned in the outcome document. We had advocated for the inclusion of FBOs without success in previous years.”

In a news release, UN Women said the document acknowledges “the critical role of technology and innovation in achieving gender equality. The Agreed Conclusions adopted by Member States provide a blueprint for all stakeholders, including governments, the private sector, civil society and youth to promote the full and equal participation and leadership of women and girls in the design, transformation and integration of digital technologies and innovation processes that fulfill the human rights and needs of women and girls.”

“This year’s Agreed Conclusions are game-changing and bring forward our vision of a more equal and connected world for women and girls in all their diversity,” said Sima Bahous, executive director of UN Women. “It is our job, as we leave here today, to translate them into reality. The ultimate success of these Agreed Conclusions lies beyond their finalization today, in how we will collectively take them forward. They bring us a vision of a more equal world. Let us translate them into reality for all women and girls.”

Among the considerations for the initiatives proposed to promote innovation and technological change as well as educational enhancements for achieving gender equality:

  • Developing digital tools and services to address the needs of all women and girls, especially for their education, health, economic empowerment and engagement in public life, and ensuring that women and girls have access to digital literacy and skills throughout their lives.
  • Mainstreaming gender in digital policies to remove barriers to equal access for all women and girls.
  • Fostering a policy of zero tolerance for gender-based violence that occurs through or is amplified by the use of technology.
  • Mainstreaming a gender perspective in the design of emerging technologies and adopting regulations to ensure they are subject to adequate safeguards to combat new risks, gender stereotypes and negative social norms and data privacy breaches.
  • Promoting policies and programs to achieve gender parity in emerging scientific and technological fields
  • Developing gender-responsive innovation that challenges gender stereotypes and negative social norms.

In the first fully in-person session following three years of the Covid pandemic, #CSW67 had more than 7,000 participants, including four heads of state and government and 116 ministers, 205 side events on UN premises, and about 700 nongovernmental organization parallel events, UN Women said.

For the first time, the session included an interactive youth session with young people, youth representatives of delegations, civil society and United Nations organizations engaging in dialogue and providing recommendations on how to ensure young women and girls are part of the digital transformation, UN Women said.

The commission also benefited from important contributions from a wide range of civil society organizations including the leaders and commitment makers of the Action Coalition on Technology and Innovation for Gender Equality, launched as part of the Generation Equality Forum. The coalition has made what UN Women called “a significant contribution in cementing alliances between governments, private sector, civil society and the UN system and in driving momentum and commitments to advance gender equality through technology and innovation.”

Sue Rheem

Rheem, the PC(USA)’s representative to the UN, expressed appreciation for the months of planning and then executing the event, offered both in person and online.

“This year was new for us as we planned for a hybrid delegation,” Rheem said. “We are grateful for the PC(USA) staff, Presbyterian Women staff and volunteers who planned over many months to make it a reality.”

“Our office hosted the in-person delegation for the first time since 2019, as well as supporting the online delegation. During the first week, our small office was overflowing with PC(USUA) dignitaries and delegates.  We had over 60 delegates and staff participate in this year’s CSW, which may be a record!” Rheem noted. “While most of the delegates left after the first week, staff and remaining delegates continued to attend side/parallel events and monitor negotiations.”

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