South Africa speaks out during CSW60

24 March 2016

The United Nations 60th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60) wraps up today in New York. Noting South Africa’s participation at the session, the Cabinet said it gave the country an opportunity to benchmark the progress made since the dawn of democracy on a global arena.

“It is important to note that since the democratic dispensation, South Africa (has) participated in the fourth World Conference of Women in 1995 and signed the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in the same year,” the Cabinet said.

This year’s theme at the commission, which started on 14 March, was “Women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development”.

Representatives of UN member states, UN entities and NGOs accredited by the UN Economic and Social Council attended the CSW60.

The CSW programme is divided into two separate but inter-related sessions:

  • The high level ministerial segment or formal CSW session; and,
  • the NGO Forum, which is in the main informal session.

Opening

“This session marks the beginning of the countdown to 2030 to the future we want, in which no one is left behind,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the UN Women executive director and a UN under-secretary-general, “a future in which there is substantive gender equality.”

She said collaboration was key to success. “We know that in order to bring the new agenda to life, we need to get closest to those who are most disadvantaged. Governments cannot deliver alone on their strong commitments.

“Collaboration with civil society and women’s organisations is key. It also means that greater support and protection of civil society is needed to ensure greater political space and capacity for them. To implement this agenda, the support of the private sector is also needed.”

In his opening remarks, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged the strides made. He noted that he had appointed more than 150 women as assistant secretary-generals or under-secretary-generals.

“When I took office, there were no women special representatives – often known as SRSGs – in the field,” Ban observed. “Today, nearly a quarter of UN missions are headed by women. That is not nearly enough, but it is a major step in realising the Security Council’s historic resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

“We are now shattering glass ceilings, and this commitment will continue. The deeply rooted prejudice that women are not capable of dealing with security matters, that is completely untrue.”

South Africa’s participation

South Africa sent various leaders to take part in CSW60, including ministers of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu, Labour Mildred Oliphant, Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa, and Social Development Bathabile Dlamini, as well as Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Women, Susan Shabangu.

“Being here in New York for me and seeing the role of small and medium enterprises and how they (are) contributing not only to your (gross domestic product) but just contributing to the well-being of their own people is a lesson for us in South Africa,” Zulu said, speaking about society’s economic transformation, hosted by South African NGO Ilitha Labantu.

She told the South African Broadcasting Corporation that once women had economic independence, they were able to make better decisions for their families and society.

Ilitha Labantu founder Mandisa Monakeli called for greater implementation instead of lip service. “We’re even talking about working at home that is unpaid work and we are saying women need to be paid for whatever job they are doing and when we talk about that we need to look at how do we bring those together. Equality talking about finances, how do we put equality together with finances,” she said.

South Africa.info reporter