The Sixty-Seventh Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) has concluded with the official adoption of the Agreed Conclusions, which provide the first comprehensive set of recommendations to advance gender equality and empower girls and women in the context of innovation, technological change and education in the digital age. These conclusions will serve as a roadmap for action, guiding policymakers, advocates, and practitioners in their efforts to address the many challenges facing girls and women around the world. The adoption of the Agreed Conclusions is just the beginning, now comes the hard work of implementing them, monitoring progress, and holding governments accountable. This is where all of us can play a crucial role, by continuing to advocate for girls' rights, by holding policymakers accountable, and by supporting organizations that are working to create a world where every girl has the opportunity to reach her full potential.
6-17 March 2023 marks the sixty-seventh session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). This event is being attended by Georgiana Epure, Senior Advocacy and Campaigns Officer, on behalf of the Girls Not Brides secretariat.
The CSW is instrumental in promoting gender justice, documenting the reality of women’s and girls’ lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. This year’s priority theme is innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
The outcome will take the form of Agreed Conclusions, to be negotiated by Member States. We’ll be advocating for the following recommendations to be added to the CSW67 Draft of the Agreed Conclusions in order to bridge gaps and strengthen the document:
1. Reaffirm that the prohibition of gender-based discrimination is foundational to international human rights law and a core value of the UN system itself.
2. Recognise informal unions, where one of the parties is under the age of 18, as a harmful practice, as a de facto form of child, early and forced marriage. The term “child, early and forced marriage and unions” should be used as it includes girls and adolescents affected by the practice – whether in formal or informal unions – and acknowledges the culturally-specific understandings of childhood and development, and the complex relationship between age, consent and force.
3. Ensure that violence against women and girls in educational settings is addressed as one of the causes for girls’ dropping out of schools and, in the case of sexual violence, one of the causes of adolescent pregnancy. These are known to be linked to increases in child, early and forced marriage and unions, as well as denying girls their educational rights and limiting their future economic agency and independence.
4. Ensure that women and girls have access to stigma-free sexual and reproductive health care services and that health care professionals respect their rights and agency.
5. Ensure that the human rights of all women and girls are fully respected and protected in all conflict and humanitarian crises prevention, response, recovery, and reconstruction strategies. This includes addressing child, early and forced marriage and unions, whose prevalence increases during crises.
6. Support civil society organisations, in particular women- and girl-led organisations, to expand their research capacity and expertise to increase their cohort of female researchers working on violence against women and girls-related issues, including in the context of innovation and technological change. This would also support organisations working on ending child, early and forced marriage and unions.
7. Recall the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and reaffirm the importance of their implementation by States and corporations to protect and respect women’s and girls’ rights and to remedy their violations in the context of digital innovation and technological change business relations and operations. Ensuring digital and technological business processes and products avoid and address risks and challenges related to gender-based violence is crucial to ensuring respect for women’s and girls’ rights, including addressing some of the root causes of child, early and forced marriage and unions.
In the time it has taken to read this article 41 girls under the age of 18 have been married
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18
That is 23 girls every minute
Nearly 1 every 2 seconds
Girls Not Brides