61st Commission on the Status of Women

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

At the United Nations (UN), on March 17, in their headquarters in New York, the secretary-general Antonio Guterres along with other high-ranking officials within the UN, such as the executive director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, discussed, and emphasized the need for, women’s international parity with men.

Secretary-General António Guterres holds a town hall meeting with civil society organizations associated with the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.UN Photo/Mark Garten

This was taken in the context of “all levels.” That is, the “political, cultural, economic and social” levels through women’s rights for women’s advocacy and empowerment. Guterres’ statements were one of the capstones and highlights during the 61st Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61).

The emphasis at CSW61 was the link between civil society and government to improve governance. So how do we improve governance for greater international gender parity?

“As societies become more complex, and as social media’s [impact continues to grow],” Guterres said, “and governments feel less and less secure because they have less instruments of control, one of the attempts is to try to keep civil society under control […] Limiting civil society space is a reaction to the feeling of governments that they are losing control of society.”

So there’s a goal for civil societies — to reach gender parity on various levels, e.g., cultural, economic, political, and social. Their goal, which is ambitious, is based on women having economic parity by 2030 rather than the comprehensive parity predicted by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in reflection on the Gender Gap Report. As we noted in 2030’s Planet 50–50:

[The] World Economic Forum (WEF) [stated],“the overall gender gap based on the index called the Gender Gap Report published each year will not close until 2186.”

That’s 169 years from now, just for predicted economic equality. Political, cultural, and social equality could take even longer in some countries. It can take multiple generations before the value of gender equality is instilled within humans in a social and cultural capacity.

We chose to write about this event because it is significant that the UN secretary-general, and not just the director of UN Women has spoken up about this advocacy for gender equality. It’s not just a women’s problem; it’s everyone’s problem.

And, of course, if you’re feeling despair in some moderately depressing times regarding the repeal of women’s rights, and progress for women, you can, as always, move to Iceland. The time machine is ready-to-go.

Original Publication in Humanist Voices.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen and Anya Overmann

Scott Douglas Jacobsen founded In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

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