Today, January 21, 2021, as preparations for the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University, participation at the 65th session of the Commission on Status of Women (CSW65), I attended the “Virtual Informal Briefing to NGOs by the Chair of CSW” event. The Chair of CSW65 is His Excellency, Mr. Mher Margaryan, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Armenia to the United Nations.
I was invited as an official representative of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS), a Non-government Organization (NGO) dedicated to Sustainable Development. The call consisted of two hundred and twenty-six participants including representatives of different NGOs accredited under the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) from around the world and Vice-Chairs of CSW.
Ambassador Margaryan opened the meeting with the administrative announcements and information about CSW65 which will take place during March 15-16, 2021. He shared with us the following:
The session(s) of CSW65 will take on a hybrid form this year due to COVID-19, but still entail a “full and substantive agenda.” There will be a limited in-person ceremonial opening of the 65th session on March 15 where the Chair of CSW will give welcoming remarks and the Presidents of ECOSOC and the General Assembly will speak with other representatives afterwards. Four Ministerial Roundtables will be held from March 15-19 on two topics that align with the CSW65 focus. All side and parallel events this year will be of a virtual nature. As of now, 146 statements have been submitted as Documents of Commission by NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC. Agreed conclusions of CSW65 will be negotiated by member states starting in February 2021. Our delegation submitted through RANS a written statement and was able to receive approval from CSW65 to host a parallel event titled “Mountain Women Empowerment Through the Inclusive Student-Engaged Learning Model.” on March 22, 2021 at 8:00EST. Preparations are currently underway by UVU students who will participate as official members of the delegation and have the opportunity to provide a student statement.
The theme of this year’s CSW regards gender equality and women empowerment in sustainable Development. H.E. Margaryan called for an elimination of violence against women and for more women in office. CSW provides the opportunity to assess the progress made and the gaps remaining; identify effective (or non-effective) policies; and to strengthen dialogue and commitment. The COVID-19 Pandemic has complicated women’s issues and is reversing strides accomplished under the 25 years of the Beijing Declaration. As such, it is imperative that measures are deployed to confront this. The UIMF is also dedicated to SDG#5 and advocates each year at CSW for the inclusion of specific language regarding mountain women and girls to be within the focus of the 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development. H.E. Margaryan furthermore encouraged participants to follow @UN_CSW on Twitter for updates and to use #CSW65 when referencing the upcoming session on social media. He then thanked us for our commitment and contributions before handing the podium to his colleague.
The delegation was next addressed by New York based Ms. Lopa Banerjee, Director of the Civil Society Division of UN Women and Executive Coordinator of the Generation Equality Forum.
Ms.Banerjee illustrated the enormous investment that society makes in CSW as the UN is the “global policy making space.” She additionally explained that this CSW carries the weight of the Beijing 25 moment, which was circumvented last year due to the unprecedented conditions surrounding COVID, therefore expectations and investments are higher than usual. The belated celebration is being termed “Beijing +25+1.”
Ms.Banerjee elaborated on the words of Ambassador Margaryan of the significance of the priority theme during COVID and women’s representation as central pieces of a gender equal world. She further emphasized localization for stronger engagement and the necessity of youth to be involved in the NGO delegations; exactly what the UIMF and UVU are doing through the unique student-engaged learning (SEL) model at UVU. Lastly, the floor was opened to an interactive Question and Answer session among the NGO representatives and the CSW Team. The majority of questions from the audience were asked about the ability to network and communicate on the same level during virtual events, a concern that was addressed by the introduction of the Advocate and Youth series programs
While this was a first learning experience for me and I didn’t ask any questions concerning the coming event, I was still able to send greetings to participants of the event on behalf of our delegation.
This was one of the preparatory CSW65 events for our delegation to take part and I learned more in depth about the importance of this work and the real challenges that the world faces. More activities are planned before our participation at the CSW65 and other members of our group will be involved in them and report about acquired experiences, knowledge and established contents.
Dallas Karren, Vice President of UIMF