Alongside being a partner and lead New York attorney at The Noble Law, Cathryn Harris-Marchesi is an active member and United Nations delegate with the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York, which focuses on worldwide issues related to women, children, and gender. After the CSW’s sixty-fifth session (CSW65) at the United Nations in New York, and intense set of high-level discussions lasting two weeks, March 15 through March 26 2021, New York is about to issue its agreed conclusions regarding the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This was the most widely attended CSW convention, as all panels and discussion were held virtually, allowing greater access for women and advocates internationally and across all time zones. These discussions included the topic of COVID-19’s global impact on women and children.
COVID-19’s Increased Inequity Against Women
CSW65 recognized the increase in inequity against women and children with the intersecting forms of discrimination suffered nationally and internationally as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, data revealed that women have been fundamentally excluded from COVID-19 government task forces internationally, with women making up only 24% of the 225 task force members identified across 137 countries. This is particularly alarming as women as systematically being left out of the discussion on solutions for issues that most greatly impact women and children. Domestic violence, isolation, rape as a weapon of war, gender and gender identity violence, climate change, virtual and technological access, access to education, equity in pay, and access to healthcare are but a few such issues.
The Executive Director of UN Women, which serves as the CSW Secretariat, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said: “This is the first session of the Commission on the Status of Women in 15 years to engage with the issue of women’s participation in public life and these Agreed Conclusions make important advances. The women of the world have made it very clear that the past and the status quo have not met their need for gender equality.”
Commission on the Status of Women
The purpose of CSW at the United Nations is to expand women’s roles in decision making positions such as government, parliament, Congress, judiciary and in leadership roles across all borders. Only through obtaining a voice, not just a position at the table, will true equity based on gender become a reality.