Commission on the Status of Women Reflection - Brodie Joyce
3 May 2021
TW: Mentions Sexual Violence
The tenets of intersectional feminism were effectively and proportionately represented throughout the events, talks and presentations that I was privileged enough to attend and partake in during CSW65, thanks to UNANZ. Learning of the global efforts currently being undertaken by a diverse range of individuals who fiercely believe in gender equality not just for women and girls now, but for future generations.
The priority themes of CSW65 were women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, and the elimination of violence. These themes were topics of discussion in the hopes of achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all girls and women. International and national efforts from countries represented at CSW65 are a cause for celebration, but it is also a stark reminder that there is a lot of imperative work to be done to achieve full gender equality. The elimination of violence was my main focus throughout the two weeks, and there were two take away efforts that resonated with me. The first one is related to reporting incidents of violence against women. As reflected in New Zealand statistics, women underreport their experiences of all forms of violence, especially sexual assault. An international tool has been developed where individuals can self-report any experience of violence, allowing the results to be seen on a global scale. This initiative was great to see as it allows us to gain a more accurate and realistic picture of the prevalence of violence against women. Women also experience the threat of violence online and this has real and damaging consequences. The Australian eSafety Commissioner presented a system built for the prevention of gender-based violence, which doubles as an education tool for how to navigate online cyberbullying threats. It is an exceptional example of how important proactive measures are in the prevention of violence in addition to reactive measures. In a New Zealand context, we have observed and experienced gender inequality in multiple areas that have been heightened due to the global pandemic, such as job losses and domestic violence. We have seen women’s health take a step to the side in favour of other medical priorities. However, I appreciated the reality check for myself on how women and girls are faring in other countries. It was sobering, sometimes haunting, but for the most part, humbling.
As previously mentioned, of the seminars and side events I attended, intersectional feminism discussion was the main lens’ many of the representatives engaged in. With that being said, there was also a healthy level of debate around certain issues where different ideas were brought to the table and discussed in a healthy and respectful way. But what always stood out for me was we all had the same goal; gender equality and uplifting women and girls around the globe. We were all there for positive and empowering reasons.
Whilst these examples are only the tip of the iceberg of what I learnt over the two weeks at CSW65, they are representative of the type of discourse all representatives were privy to. During these two weeks, Turkey announced their withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention. This is a concerning stand from Turkey, as the Convention is essentially a legally binding framework to combat violence against women. The statistics for violence against women have increased through the Covid-19 pandemic, making this withdrawal all the more concerning and an example of why we need to continue the conversation and efforts to eliminate violence against women.
I can now only but give a massive thank you to the United Nations Association of New Zealand for this fantastic opportunity. I relished every second of it and the flame has been sparked to take part in many other events and conventions in the future. May the discussions and efforts continue until all women and girls will be considered and treated as equals.