by Fr. Thomas Brennan, SDB
The 62nd Annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was held at U.N. Headquarters in New York, March 12-23. It is the chief global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls. During CSW, representatives of U.N. member states, civil society organizations, and U.N. entities discuss progress and gaps in the implementation of the agreed-upon plan of action on gender equality as well as emerging issues that affect gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, the Commission has also assisted in the follow-up and assessment of progress in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their implications for women and girls. The Commission’s outcomes and recommendations put forward further actions to accelerate progress and promote women’s political, economic, and social rights. ECOSOC commits itself to follow-up on the results of the Commission.
CSW 62 addressed the priority theme: Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls. Additionally, it assessed progress on the implantation of the theme of CSW 47: Participation in and access of women to the media, and information and communications technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women.
Once again the Salesians of Don Bosco participated in CSW. Fr. Thomas Brennan, SDB, collaborated with the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, and the Sisters of Loretto in preparing a written intervention that highlighted women’s empowerment through the intersection of gender equality (SDG 5) and water and sanitation (SDG 6). It can be found at: E/CN.6/2018/NGO/58
Additionally, Fr. Brennan collaborated in preparing a side event that dealt with the empowerment of rural women in achieving the human right to water: Wisdom, Water, and Rural Women: Unmuting Women’s Voices for Integrated Water Policy. The objective of the interactive panel was to promote the participation of rural women and girls in the design, implementation, and evaluation of water policies; to highlight the nature of problems in water policy and propose potential solutions, and to raise awareness and widen the scope of valuing water across societies.
Dr. Meghan Clark of St. John’s University framed the discussion in light of the instructions of Pope Francis linking water, wisdom, and rural women to the principles of human rights and solidarity. This linkage includes the need for:
Empowerment and Agency. Those living in poverty or in vulnerable populations must be “dignified agents of their own destiny.”
Recognizing that calls to recognize the equality of women are a work of the Spirit. This leads to rejecting all violence against women.
Accepting that having clean water is a basic human right. (cf. Laudato Si’, no. 30)
Water justice was a central theme for the presenters. Ensuring that people have clean water demands that we examine the politics of water; the commitment of governments to providing water to all; the commercialization of water and the control of clean water by private industries; the disproportionate responsibility that women and girls have for ensuring that families have clean water; women at the forefront of water issues and in rural economies; the weaponization of water in conflicts; listening to the wisdom of women in developing, implementing, and evaluating water policies and projects; the central role that water plays in the achievement of all of the SDGs.
Casa Generalizia della Società del Sacro Cuore; Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd; Greek Orthodox Archdiocese; Loretto Community; Mercy International; Salesian Missions; the Permanent U.N. Missions of Peru and the Knights of Malta; Malteser International
E. Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, permanent representative of Peru to the United Nations
Meghan Clark, PhD, associate professor of Theology and Religious Studies, John’s University, N.Y.
Meera Karunanantham, PhD (cand.), Blue Planet Project, Council of Canadians
Matteo Cinquemani, MPH, program director, Malteser International Americas
Chris Schimmoeller, founder of Kentucky Heartwood, Envision Franklin County, and Woods & Waters Land Trust.
Event Video Link:
Every Drop Counts, High-Level Panel on Water Outcome Document