Reflecting on the UN’s 2023 Commission on the Status of Women

The United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 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.

Having the opportunity to attend the UN’s 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women as a delegate from the League of Women Voters was a privilege. It was an incredible chance to address global issues around women’s leadership and democracy. The agreed conclusions adopted by Member States provide a blueprint for all stakeholders, including governments, the private sector, civil society, and youth to promote the full and equal participation and leadership of women and girls in the design, transformation, and integration of digital technologies and innovation processes that fulfill the human rights and needs of women and girls.

Overall Impressions & Takeaways 

What impressed me the most was the threats to democracy that digital and other forms of psychological violence can pose to elections and politics, impacting policy, the journalists who provide fact-checked news, women’s rights activists, and more.

Gender-based violence has been a long-standing challenge, but psychological violence is more difficult to document. The consequences of gender-based psychological violence and mitigation strategies belong in a conversation that needs to continue.

I was also struck by discussions about the under-representation of women in developing technology. I attended an especially eye-opening session worth reviewing: Women Leaders in Media: Making Innovative Technology Work for Women and Girls. One key takeaway was that while men are over-represented in technology development, there is room for influence at the development level if university-level faculty in gender studies are paired with faculty that develop artificial intelligence. At this point, AI developers may interpret gender bias as an error in the tool rather than misogyny and therefore be more open to collaborative efforts to include feminist perspectives.

I also appreciated the discussion about combating women’s harassment. Specifically, Hollaback’s “5 Ds” (delay, distract, direct, delegate, document) were cited as concrete strategies to use as a bystander to diffuse harassment.

Influence of CEDAW

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was a treaty adopted by the UN in 1979. The US is “the only established industrialized democracy” in the world that has failed to ratify CEDAW.

By Connie Sobon Sensor, PhD, RN, CTN-A, Chief UN Observer for LWVUS 

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