Participating at the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Reflections from Maria Lie Jordheim:

From the 11th to the 21st of March, I attended the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the UN Headquarters in New York City. CSW is a part of the UN Economic and Social Council and works to promote gender equality and strengthen women’s rights globally. The session is the UN’s largest annual gathering on gender equality and women’s empowerment, and gathers UN representatives, state leaders, and civil society from all around the world. I attended the conference as a delegate for the European Law Students Association.

The priority theme for the session was accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective. Today, around 1/10 women live in extreme poverty globally. In recent years, there has also been a significant backlash against women’s rights and gender quality. Gender disparities are worsening, and anti-feminist rhetoric and policies are being used to a greater extent.

In their agreed conclusions from the session, the Commission recognized that women and girls are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change, and that there is a need for further efforts to support women’s rights during armed conflict. Furthermore, it recognized the importance of female participation in important decision-making processes such as peacebuilding and conflict prevention, and the importance of supporting local female-led organizations. The need for gender-responsive economic and social policies, such as efforts to narrow the gender pay gap, was also greatly acknowledged. In addition, the commission adopted a resolution which calls for gender-responsive HIV/AIDs work.

The main sessions of the conference were accompanied by more than 200 side events and 700 parallel events involving both governmental representatives and civil society. Through these diverse discussions I have gained valuable insights into the essential measures needed to narrow the gender pay gap, enhance women’s participation in decision-making processes, secure climate justice for the women who are the most heavily affected by the climate crisis, prevent gender-based violence, combat discriminatory use of Artificial Intelligence and so much more. It has also been very educational to witness UN entities, state representatives and civil society organizations (including students and youth representatives) discuss and learn from each other.

CSW68 also provided an excellent opportunity for meaningful interactions with various human rights advocates from different parts of the world. Engaging with and learning from other activists, researchers, and individuals who work tirelessly to achieve gender equality in their respective contexts, along with discovering the numerous important initiatives out there, has inspired me, as a young law student, greatly.

I am incredibly grateful for this experience and hope to be back for CSW69!

Maria has been a research assistant at LawTransform since May 2023. She is currently a fourth-year law student at the University of Bergen. Maria is responsible for coordinating the events at the centre. She is also in charge of the LawTransform student group. Maria‘s research interests include indigenous rights, migration, women’s rights, democracy and law, and inequality. Maria works part-time at LawTransform.