The UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. Representatives of Member States attend annual meetings at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality and identify future challenges.
Each year, the Commission aims to produce agreed conclusions containing an assessment of progress, as well as of gaps and challenges. In particular, they contain a set of concrete recommendations for action by Governments, intergovernmental bodies and other institutions, civil society actors and other relevant stakeholders, to be implemented at the international, national, regional and local level. The 57th Session’s conclusions can be read here. The annual report of the Commission is submitted to the Economic and Social Council for adoption.
The 58th Session of the UN CSW in March 2014 will focus on challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.
PEN at the CSW
PEN International’s Women Writers Committee (PIWWC) has been attending the CSW for over twenty years. In 1995, then-chair Greta Rana took a delegation of women writers to Beijing to the UN’s 4th World Conference on Women. That gave the PIWWC the right to attend the sessions of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York every February/March. Tsung Su, of Chinese Writers Abroad PEN, and Lucina Kathmann, of San Miguel PEN, have done so ever since.
The 57th session on the Committee for the Status of Women was held in March 2013, focusing on violence against women. PEN International was chosen from hundreds of submissions to deliver an oral statement to the delegates on the issue of violence against women writers, an unprecedented opportunity for PEN to advocate on behalf of women writers across the globe. PEN’s focus on writers was a high profile topic, with growing attention on violence towards and discrimination against female journalists.
Connecting with our advocacy before the UN Inter-Agency meeting on the Safety of Journalists, PEN emphasised that the issue of violence against writers and reporters is a global issue. The number of journalists killed in their line of work was described by the UN as “staggering”; many of these journalists were reporting on corruption and organised crime, and 90% of such murders go unpunished.
On 20 March 2014, PEN International delivered its oral statement at the UN Commission on the Status of Women General Discussion in Geneva.