Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of women's rights, gender equality and the empowerment of women.
The Commission meets annually in March. During this session Member States, with significant input from civil society, evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and women's empowerment worldwide.
Ireland was elected to serve as a member of the Commission on the Status of Women for the first time on 5 April 2016, and our term of office ran from 2017 to 2021. Ireland chaired the Commission for the annual sessions in 2018 and 2019.
As a member Ireland worked to strengthen the voice and functioning of the Commission, support its contribution to the wider 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and promote the participation of civil society in its work.
The 65th session of the CSW 65 took place from 15-26 March 2021. The priority theme was: “Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achievement gender equality and the employment of women and girls”. The review theme was: “Women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development”.
The main outcome of this session was the adoption of agreed conclusions on this theme, adopted after a lengthy and often difficult negotiation process. This year’s CSW was held in a hybrid format. The opening and closing sessions were held in person in the General Assembly but all other meetings and events were held online. Ireland’s virtual delegation was led by Minister Roderic O’Gorman, T.D., who delivered Ireland’s national statement in the general debate and also participated in a Ministerial roundtable.
A full programme of virtual side events was organised throughout the session. The DFA Human Rights Unit organised a side event on the topic of “Women in Politics: Overcoming the Gender Barriers”, which brought together policy makers and experts who examined the particular barriers faced by women who wish to enter political life, some of the steps and strategies that can overcome these barriers, and what remains to be done. The side event was moderated by Ireland’s Ambassador to the UN, Geraldine Byrne Nason and addressed by Mr. Niall Burgess, Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs; Ms. Hanna Tetteh, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to the African Union (AU) & Head of the UN Office to the AU (UNOAU) and former MP and Government Minister in Ghana; Senator Pippa Hackett, Minister of State for Agriculture with responsibility for land use and biodiversity; Senator Eileen Flynn, the first Mincéir (Member of the Travelling Community) to serve in the Houses of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament); and Ms Orla O’Connor, Director, National Women’s Council of Ireland (a leading Irish NGO with 190 member groups which advocates for gender equality for women).
In an important 25th anniversary year, the 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women was dedicated to the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the landmark multilateral agreement on women’s rights and gender equality dating from 1995.
In advance of the session, States were called upon to undertake comprehensive national-level reviews of the progress made and challenges encountered. These national reviews fed into regional reviews conducted by the regional commissions of the United Nations, which subsequently fed into CSW64. The Beijing+25 regional meeting for Europe took place in Geneva in October 2019.
Unfortunately, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the 64th session of CSW had to be curtailed. The Commission convened on 9 March 2020 for a procedural meeting, during which a Political Declaration focused on the implementation of the Beijing Declaration was adopted. The session was then suspended until further notice.
The 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) took place from 11 to 22 March 2019 in New York with the priority theme “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls”.
Under the Irish chair represented by Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, the Commission adopted by consensus a set of agreed conclusions which outlined the actions needed to ensure that social protection systems, public services and infrastructure were gender-sensitive, responded to the needs of women and girls, and advanced women’s empowerment and gender equality.
The Irish delegation was led by David Stanton, T.D., Minister of State for Minister for Equality, Integration and Immigration, and included representatives of civil society and two second level students (accompanied by their teachers) who had won the Department of Justice and Equality competition “Politics Needs Women.
Human Rights Council
Ireland was elected to the UN Human Rights Council for the first time in November 2012.