The two-week-long 52nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 52) ends today in New York.
The main focus of CSW this year was Financing for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. The commission also looked at the themes of Gender Perspectives on Climate Change and Gender and HIV. In addition, it reviewed the status of implementation at national level of the recommendations on Women’s Equal Participation in Conflict Prevention, Management and Conflict Resolution and in Post-conflict Peace Building, adopted at its 48th session in 2004.
This year, as well as Australia and New Zealand, six Pacific countries sent delegations to CSW: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. This was a contrast to the poor Pacific turnout at CSW last year, when, aside from countries with permanent missions to the United Nations in New York*, only Tuvalu sent a delegation.
As in the past, SPC, in partnership with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, gave support for the countries’ active participation. Linda Petersen, manager of SPC’s Human Development Programme, says there was significant top-level representation, with three cabinet ministers and four senior officials: ‘Regrettably, no delegations were represented by their finance or planning agencies – but this was the case for most delegations and is reflective of the huge amount of work there is still to do in getting gender equality issues mainstreamed into the key decision-making agencies and processes of government.’
Four Pacific non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were also present in New York.
The Pacific Islands Forum group chair and representative to the UN, Her Excellency Mrs Fekitamoeloa ’Utoikamanu, Ambassador for the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Tonga, says there are many benefits for countries in attending international forums such as CSW. The meeting gives countries an opportunity to share their concerns and needs as well as put forward the region’s position regarding the themes discussed.
‘Countries can learn from the experience of other countries in a similar situation. They can also make the most of the participation of major development partners, financing agencies and NGOs who may respond to their requirements,’ Mrs ’Utoikamanu says.
She says the role of Pacific NGOs at CSW 52 has been very important and national delegations have been collaborating closely with them: ‘We have allowed NGO representatives to review all the draft statements we have prepared.’
With regard to the theme, Mrs ’Utoikamanu says Pacific countries do not rank well: ‘We still have a long way to go in mainstreaming gender into the budgeting system across all sectors of the economy.’
A study commissioned recently by SPC in preparation for CSW 52 shows that financing for gender equality is a challenging concept for the region. Specific data on national levels of financing of gender equality activities in the Pacific are relatively poor. However, anecdotal evidence places the domestic budgetary financing of gender activities at 1 per cent or less of the total budget of most Pacific Island countries and territories.
To improve this situation, Mrs ’Utoikamanu says Pacific countries need to work with various partners: ‘In the Pacific, domestic resources are limited. Therefore, one option is to seek the assistance of development partners and the private sector. Countries also need strong engagement from NGOs.’
Following CSW 52, Mrs ’Utoikamanu says delegates need to get firm engagements from their governments regarding the meeting’s recommendations and resolutions: ‘The next step will be to raise the issues at a regional level so that national actions can be complemented by regional intervention.’
* Pacific countries and territories with permanent missions to the UN: Fiji, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
For more information please contact Tione Chinula, SPC Human Development Programme Advocacy and Communications Officer (Tel: +687 26 01 57 or e-mail
Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. It is the principal global policy-making body. Every year, representatives of member states gather at United Nations headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide. This year, CSW was held from 25 February to 7 March.
For more information on CSW 52 visit www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/52sess.htm.