Reflections from the Commission on the Status of Women 2017

22 March 2017

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. A functional commission of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), it was established by Council resolution 11(II) of 21 June 1946. The CSW is instrumental in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

This year, the theme for the event is ‘Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work’. YWCA Canberra has sent a delegation to attend, which includes three young women, and a Life Member. They have be advocating for women’s economic participation, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and the progression of the gender equality Sustainable Development Goal. Below,  we hear from YWCA Canberra Board Director, Sarah Burr about her experiences thus far.


During my time at CSW I have been fortunate to be part of discussions at the Youth Forum and in sessions related to the economic empowerment of Indigenous women. I have been challenged at times to remember my privilege as an Australian and as a young, educated and employed woman free to practice my feminism.

The stories shared by other young women from around the world regarding experiences of child marriage, female genital cutting, war and conflict, non-existent labour rights, structurally misogynistic societies, and the impacts of climate change disproportionately affecting young women have taught me a lot and inspired me to work harder to make things better.

I was honoured to be asked to speak at the last minute on a panel about Indigenous women’s contribution to the economy. I met some incredible First Nations women from Canada, the US, Africa, the Caribbean, and the UK who are working and studying in this space, and who are incredibly optimistic about the work we can do to improve the lives of our sisters around the world.

I feel invigorated that the side and parallel events at CSW have progressed over the past week from a deficit discussion (such as listing the issues impacting women) to a more solutions-based approach (focusing on what can be done to overcome these issues and affect change for the benefit of women as well as others held back by patriarchal systems).

I look forward to remaining days at CSW and seeing how the drafting of the agreed statement comes together to reflect the values, concerns and needs of women in seeking economic self-determination and financial security for now and into the future.

To stay up to date on the action from CSW on social media, follow #CSW61.

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