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Commission on the Status of Women

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What is CSW?

The CSW is the largest annual gathering on women’s rights worldwide, and is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. 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.

CSW67: 6 – 17 MARCH 2023

  • Priority theme: Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. 

  • Review theme: Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls (agreed conclusions of the sixty-second session).

What happens at CSW? Zonta at CSW

Of the 6,155 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with consultative status at the United Nations, only 141 have General Consultative Status, the highest status an NGO can have at the UN. Zonta International was granted General Consultative Status in 1969.

As an NGO with General Consultative Status, Zonta International is invited to participate in the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York. The Commission on the Status of Women is:

  • A functional commission of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

  • The principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

  • Established by resolution on 21 June 1946 to monitor and promote women’s rights and develop global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women; mandate expanded in 1996 to include monitoring and reviewing progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.


  • During the Commission’s annual two-week session, thousands of representatives of UN Member States, global civil society organizations and UN entities gather at UN headquarters in New York. They discuss progress and gaps in the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the key global policy document on gender equality, and the 23rd special session of the General Assembly held in 2000 (Beijing+5), as well as emerging issues that affect gender equality and the empowerment of women. Member States agree on further actions to accelerate progress and promote women’s enjoyment of their rights in political, economic and social fields. The outcomes and recommendations of each session are forwarded to ECOSOC for follow-up.Official representatives from member states and civil society can attend the formal CSW meetings and the accompanying side events on women’s issues which are sponsored by member states. During the two-week session, NGOCSW, the civil society arm of CSW presents the NGOCSW Forum where hundreds of sessions, known as parallel events are open for all interested parties to attend. Where member states and NGOs register official representatives for CSW, registration for the NGOCSW Forum can be found at
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Remember in 1995 when Hillary said, "human rights are women's rights...And women's rights are human rights...." ? ?

Here is her speech.

ISO: USA ***************************************************************************

The electronic version of this document has been prepared at the Fourth World Conference on Women by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women Secretariat.





Mrs. Mongella, Distinguished delegates and guests,

I would like to thank the Secretary General of the United Nations for inviting me to be part of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women. This is truly a celebration -- a celebration of the contributions women make in every aspect of life: in the home, on the job, in their communities, as mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, learners, workers, citizens and leaders.

It is also a coming together, much the way women come together every day in every country.

We come together in fields and in factories. In village markets and supermarkets. In living rooms and board rooms.

Whether it is while playing with our children in the park or washing clothes in a river, or taking a break at the office water cooler, we come together and talk about our aspirations and concerns. And time and again, our talk turns to our children and our families.

However different we may be, there is far more that unites us than divides us. We share a common future. And we are here to find common ground so that we may help bring new dignity and respect to women and girls all over the world -- and in so doing, bring new strength and stability to families as well.

By gathering in Beijing, we are focusing world attention on issues that matter most in the lives of women and their families: access to education, health care, jobs, and credit, the chance to enjoy basic legal and human rights and participate fully in the political life of their countries.

There are some who question the reason for this conference. Let them listen to the voices of women in their homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces.

There are some who wonder whether the lives of women and girls matter to economic and political progress around the globe. . . . Let them look at the women gathered here and at Huairou. . .the homemakers, nurses, teachers, lawyers, policymakers, and women who run their own businesses.

It is conferences like this that compel governments and peoples everywhere to listen, look and face the world's most pressing problems.

Wasn't it after the women's conference in Nairobi ten years ago that the world focused for the first time on the crisis of domestic violence?

Earlier today, I participated in a World Health Organization forum, where government officials, NGOs, and individual citizens are working on ways to address the health problems of women and girls.

Tomorrow, I will attend a gathering of the United Nations Development Fund for Women. There, the discussion will focus on local -- and highly successful -- programs that give hard-working women access to credit so they can improve their own lives and the lives of their families.

What we are learning around the world is that, if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish.

And when families flourish, communities and nations will flourish.

That is why every woman, every man, every child, every family, and every nation on our planet has a stake in the discussion that takes place here.

Over the past 25 years, I have worked persistently on issues relating to women, children and families. Over the past two-and-a-half years, I have had the opportunity to learn more about the challenges facing women in my own country and around the world.

I have met new mothers in Jojakarta, Indonesia, who come together regularly in their village to discuss nutrition, family planning, and baby care.

I have met working parents in Denmark who talk about the comfort they feel in knowing that their children can be cared for in creative, safe, and nurturing after-school centers.

I have met women in South Africa who helped lead the struggle to end apartheid and are now helping build a new democracy.

I have met with the leading women of the Western Hemisphere who are working every day to promote literacy and better health care for the children of their countries.

I have met women in India and Bangladesh who are taking out small loans to buy milk cows, rickshaws, thread and other materials to create a livelihood for themselves and their families. '

I have met doctors and nurses in Belarus and Ukraine who are trying to keep children alive in the aftermath of Chernobyl.

The great challenge of this conference is to give voice to women everywhere whose experiences go unnoticed, whose words go unheard.

Women comprise more than half the world's population. Women are 70t percent of the world's poor, and two-thirds of those who are not taught to read and write.

Women are the primary caretakers for most of the world's children and elderly. Yet much of the work we do is not valued -not by economists, not by historians, not by popular culture, not by government leaders.

At this very moment, as we sit here, women around the world are giving birth, raising children, cooking meals, washing clothes, cleaning houses, planting crops, working on assembly lines, running companies, and running countries.

Women also are dying from diseases that should have been prevented or treated; they are watching their children succumb to malnutrition caused by poverty and economic deprivation; they are being denied the right to go to school by their own fathers and brothers; they are being forced into prostitution, and they are being barred from the ballot box and the bank lending office.

Those of us who have the opportunity to be here have the responsibility to speak for those who could not.

As an American, I want to speak up for women in my own country -- women who are raising children on the minimum wage, women who can't afford health care or child care, women whose lives are threatened by violence, including violence in their own homes.

I want to speak up for mothers who are fighting for good schools, safe neighborhoods, clean air and clean airwaves. . . for older women, some of them widows, who have raised their families and now find that their skills and life experiences are not valued in the workplace. . . for women who are working all night as nurses, hotel clerks, and fast food chefs so that they can be at home during the day with their kids. . . and for women everywhere who simply don't have time to do everything they are called upon to do each day.

Speaking to you today, I speak for them, just as each of us speaks for women around the world who are denied the chance to go to school, or see a doctor, or own property, or have a say about the direction of their lives, simply because they are women.

The truth is that most women around the world work both inside and outside the home, usually by necessity.

We need to understand that there is ho formula for how women should lead their lives. That is why we must respect the choices that each woman makes for herself and her family. Every woman deserves the chance to realize her God-given potential.

We also must recognize that women will never gain full dignity until their human rights are respected and protected.

Our goals for this conference, to strengthen families and societies by empowering women to take greater control over their own destinies, cannot be fully achieved unless all governments -here and around the world -- accept their responsibility to protect and promote internationally recognized human rights.

The international community has long acknowledged -- and recently affirmed at Vienna -- that both women and men are entitled to a range of protections and personal freedoms, from the right of personal security to the right to determine freely the number and spacing of the children they bear.

No one should be forced to remain silent for fear of religious or political persecution, arrest, abuse or torture.

Tragically, women are most often the ones whose human rights are violated. Even in the late 20th century, the rape of women continues to be used as an instrument of armed conflict. Women and children make up a large majority of the world's refugees. And when women are excluded from the political process, they become even more vulnerable to abuse.

I believe that, on the eve of a new millennium, it is time to break our silence. It is time for us to say here in Beijing, and the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women's rights as separate from human rights.

These abuses have continued because, for too long, the history of women has been a history of silence. Even today, there are those who are trying to silence our words.

The voices of this conference and of the women at Huairou must be heard loud and clear:

It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls. '

It is a violation of human rights when women and girls are sold into the slavery of prostitution.

It is a violation of human rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small.

It is a violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war.

It is a violation of human rights when a leading cause of death worldwide among women ages 14 to 44 is the violence they are subjected to in their own homes.

It is a violation of human rights when young girls are brutalized by the painful and degrading practice of genital mutilation.

It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will.

If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, it is that human rights are women's rights.... And women's rights are human rights.

Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely. And the right to be heard.

Women must enjoy the right to participate fully in the social and political lives of their countries if we want freedom and democracy to thrive and endure.

It is indefensible that many women in non-governmental organizations who wished to participate in this conference have not been able to attend -- or have been prohibited from fully taking part.

Let me be clear. Freedom means the right of people to assemble, organize, and debate openly. It means respecting the views of those who may disagree with the views of their governments. It means not taking citizens away from their loved ones and jailing them, mistreating them, or denying them their freedom or dignity because of the peaceful expression of their ideas and opinions.

In my country, we recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of women's suffrage. It took 150 years after the signing of our Declaration of Independence for women to win the right to vote. It took 72 years of organized struggle on the part of many courageous women and men.

It was one of America's most divisive philosophical wars. But it was also a bloodless war. Suffrage was achieved without a shot fired.

We have also been reminded, in V-J Day observances last weekend, of the good that comes when men and women join together to combat the forces of tyranny and build a better world.

We have seen peace prevail in most places for a half century. We have avoided another world war.

But we have not solved older, deeply-rooted problems that continue to diminish the potential of half the world's population.

Now it is time to act on behalf of women everywhere.

If we take bold steps to better the lives of women, we will be taking bold steps to better the lives of children and families too. Families rely on mothers and wives for emotional support and care; families rely on women for labor in the home; and increasingly, families rely on women for income needed to raise healthy children and care for other relatives.

As long as discrimination and inequities remain so commonplace around the world -- as long as girls and women are valued less, fed less, fed last, overworked, underpaid, not schooled and subjected to violence in and out of their homes -the potential of the human family to create a peaceful, prosperous world will not be realized.

Let this conference be our -- and the world's -- call to action.

And let us heed the call so that we can create a world in which every woman is treated with respect and dignity, every boy and girl is loved and cared for equally, and every family has the hope of a strong and stable future.

Thank you very much. God's blessings on you, your work and all who will benefit from it.

As this speech was being developed Hillary had some great input from the Secretary of State at the time Madeleine Albright

Zonta International Statement on CSW67


Zonta International Statement to the
67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Zonta International, a leading global organization of more than 26,000 professionals in 62 countries working to build a better world for women and girls, presents to the 67th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women the following statement for consideration of the Commission in its deliberations on innovation, technological change and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is critical to achieving all 17 goals laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; however, widespread access to information and communication technology are also vitally important to achieving the SDGs and realizing gender equality. The United Nations General Assembly, in reference to the 2030 Agenda, stated that, “the spread of information and communications technology and global interconnectedness has great potential to accelerate human progress, to bridge the digital divide and to develop knowledge societies.”

The importance of information and communications technology is even more essential today, as the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way we learn, work and interact with others on a daily basis. While the COVID-19 crisis reinforced the growth and impact of the digital economy, the United Nations said it has also "laid bare and exacerbated the growing digital divide within, between and across developed and developing countries, particularly in terms of the availability, affordability and use of information [and communications technology] (ICT) and access to the internet, deepening existing inequalities."

According to the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies, 2.9 billion people still do not have access to the internet, including four out of every five women in the least developed countries. According to UNESCO, more than 1.3 billion children, age three to 17, do not have access to the internet in their homes and are, therefore, cut off from the resources, information and opportunities that connectivity provides.

The rapid increase in the use of digital tools has also brought greater attention to the gender digital divide, the gap between men with access to the internet (62%) compared to women with access to the internet (57%). Owning a smartphone and access to the mobile internet is now essential to accessing financial, healthcare and educational resources, yet women are 18% less likely to own a smartphone than men, according to the International Telecommunication Union. Data on the gender differences in internet usage by children under the age of 18 is not as readily available; however, UNICEF reports that in countries with data, girls aged 15–19 years were less likely than boys to have used the internet and they also had lower mobile phone ownership. This gender digital divide holds women and girls back from freely and fully participating in digital spaces, including educational and employment opportunities, and further exacerbates gender inequality.

Access to service providers and mobile phones, however, is not the only barrier for women and girls. Additional barriers to internet access and mobile phone usage include costs to connect, limited digital skills, and social and cultural norms that prevent women and girls from freely using the internet and mobile technology. These barriers must all be addressed to ensuring gender equality in the rapidly evolving digital world.

While ensuring women and girls have access to the internet and the educational and economic opportunities that includes, it is vitally important that we ensure that they are able to do so safely. According to Plan International, 58% of girls and young women have been harassed or abused online, with one in five girls having left or significantly reduced use of a social media platform after being harassed. While younger women are more likely to experience online violence, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit Report, nearly 9 in 10 women restrict their online activity due to the threat or fear of online violence, thereby limiting their access to employment, education, healthcare, and community resources and widening the digital divide even further.

In addition to providing equitable, affordable and safe access to the internet, ensuring that women are represented in technology and other STEM fields is also critical to closing the digital gender divide, elevating women’s economic and employment opportunities and addressing women and girls’ unique experience and perspectives in technological advancements of the future. Programs like Zonta International’s Amelia Earhart Fellowship, established in 1938, and its new pilot program for women in STEM are necessary to encouraging women to pursue education, career opportunities and leadership roles in information technology, STEM, aerospace engineering and space sciences – all fields that are expected to continue to grow.

To address the digital divide and ensure equal opportunities for women and girls in education and employment, Zonta International calls on Member States and the United Nations to:

•               Ensure universal access to the internet.

•               Address specific barriers to women’s access to the internet, including cost, service quality 
and digital skills and competencies. 

•               Invest in digital skills education for women and girls, so they are able to fully and freely 
access the internet and participate online. 

•               Implement UNESCO’s Rewired Global Declaration on Connectivity for Education at the 
national level to ensure that technologies support inclusive education based on the 
principles of justice, equity and respect for human rights. 

•               Increase investments in girls’ education and support STEM Education and digital skills 
development for girls at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels to ensure lifelong access to learning opportunities and economic and employment opportunities of the future. 

•               Develop gender-responsive policies with specific actions to tackle the digital gender gap, promote gender-responsive digital learning and address online violence through policies and laws around privacy, safety and security. 

•               Design and implement school-based programs aimed at teachers and adolescents to promote the safe and responsible use of information and communications technology. 

Our vision for gender equality is a world in which women’s rights are recognized as human rights and every woman is able to achieve her full potential, a world where women have access to all resources and are represented in decision-making positions on an equal basis with men, and a world in which no woman lives in fear of violence, offline or online. To fully realize this vision, the global community must come together to ensure that women and girls are not left behind in our increasingly digital world.

Endorsed by:
Associated Country Women of the World
Graduate Women International
International Council of Women
International Federation of Business and Professional Women Servas International
Soroptimist International
Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund

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