CSW63 is the largest gathering of civil society at the UN. My plan was to attend as many parallel events, side events and official events as I could. I arrived with the aim to work collectively to make women’s rights a reality, seek justice and human rights, and to help build a new era for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development. Idealistic? Yes, always.
My first day in New York was Monday, 11 March. Outside my hotel they were filming Madam Secretary. I wandered through the set. My mission was to queue for my UN Ground Pass and try to get one for a NZ panellist. Both were achieved. That day we emailed a Media Release about our event. My mobile was on for media requests.
On Thursday, 14th March we held our human rights event; Non-Binary Gender Identities and Social Security Systems: Challenges and Opportunities. We considered this to be critical within the context of evolving understandings of gender. Leaving no one behind, embracing diversity, inclusiveness and intersectionality are a must to achieve the SDGs. At CSW everyone from around the world were so passionate. The large audience at our event was no exception. Each received a flyer and definitions of non-binary and social security systems to help understand our topic. In attendance were delegates from various international NGOs, Ambassador Graig Hawke (Head of the NZ Mission to the United Nations who had invited all attending CSW to breakfast at the Mission that morning) and delegates from other Missions. The audience included a good range of ages with many young people.
The event highlighted the importance of legal recognition of non-binary gender identities. Our panellists showcased good practices, current challenges and opportunities to build fair and inclusive social security networks. These networks will support the wellbeing of all, including non-binary and gender diverse communities. That evening we were devastated to receive news about the terrorist attack in Christchurch.
A highlight for me amongst the scheduled 400 – 500 parallel and side events, was attending the UN General Discussion. The shifting range of topics was evident at this high-level interactive dialogue among Ministers on the priority theme. I attended many other sessions including:
- Gender Roundtable: Making Space for Girls to Lead
- Impact of Violent Extremism on Women’s Social Protection & Services
- Australian Women’s Shelters Filling Essential Services Gap Left by Government Policies
- Integrated Domestic Violence Courts sponsored by the American Bar Association and National Association of Women Judges. Several of these Judges will be in NZ next year for a Conference of Women Judges
- Access to STEM Education and Infrastructure Careers for Women and Girls in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands
CSW is a melting point of ideas. It is youthful and it has vision. It’s two weeks are dedicated to women and women’s issues. After weeks of negotiations, UN member states adopt concrete recommendations. Governments implement these recommendations to advance the rights of women and girls and to help build a new era for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development.
We hope our human rights event has provided an important platform from where governments will take action and develop policies which embrace a future which is intersectional.
Joy Dunsheath JP
Past President UNANZ