New York in March: the annual session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) has begun. Cordaid’s gender and peacebuilding expert Dewi Suralaga explains this year’s objective: finding a practical link between the Sustainable Development Goals, the New Deal and Resolution 1325.
The CSW, heading into its sixtieth anniversary, chose this year to focus on the links between women’s empowerment and the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Representatives from Member States, UN entities and NGOs convene at the UN Headquarters in New York from 14 to 24 March to network, strategize and plan initiatives for the year to come. Before she heads off, Cordaid’s gender expert Dewi Suralaga provides a quick preview into the program.
Dewi, why is this CSW session important for Cordaid to attend?
“For Cordaid, in relation to the CSW, two of the SDGs are very important. One is goal number 5, which is gender equality and empowerment of women and girls and the other one is promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies, which is number 16. That’s because we work to build flourishing communities in fragile states, and we work on the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, which is very much related to SDG 16. We host the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS) and in addition, we have a long track record on the implementation of UNSCR1325, especially in conflict affected countries. So this year’s theme is very relevant to our work.”
What is it that you would like to accomplish in New York?
“I want to explore how we as Cordaid could strengthen the link between the implementation of the SDGs and the implementation of the Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals (PSGs) from the New Deal. I am looking into the link between three things: the SDGs, the PSGs and UN Security Council Resolution 1325. To craft a stronger and more concrete practical link between the three processes.
The New Deal has been particularly designed for fragile states and is closely related to what is now a global SDG framework for everyone. Women, peace and security equally is an agenda for everyone, whether in fragile contexts or elsewhere. There needs to be learning, alignment and mutual reinforcement among these agendas. How in a practical way can we really do that, together with partners?”
Cordaid will (co-)host three side events. What are they about?
“The first event (15 March) is about Repression Against Civil Society. Many of our partners working in fragile states have been under stronger restrictions. We want to discuss the political hindrance and repression that is currently taking place in some countries, such as Afghanistan, Burundi, Libya and Kenya. I use the word ‘repression’, because indeed as documented in the CIVICUS Civil Society Watch Report (June 2015), significant violations took place in 2014 (in 96 countries in total). Some organizations have had their permit revoked, their bank account closed; activists are threatened. This is not a conducive environment to start the SDGs.
This year, the representatives of Member States need to be stronger than last year, as too much is at stake. The start of the SDGs needs to be done right, and the CSW can really contribute to that!
Dewi Suralaga, Cordaid’s gender expert
Actually, none of the fragile states achieved the Millennium Development Goals. So for the SDGs, we would like to make sure all actors have the room to participate. We know that civil society organizations play a very big role in conflict-affected countries, sometimes even more important than government. Forging a transformative 2030 agenda requires multi-stakeholder partnerships, where civil society has the political support to participate in the SDGs’ implementation.”
And the next?
“The second event (17 March) is about Complementarities between the women and youth peace and security agendas. Youth play a very crucial role in contributing to development and peace in their countries and therefore we are supporting this initiative. The Women, Peace and Security Resolution 1325 and the Youth, Peace and Security Resolution 2250 share many similarities. This side event is about how, by addressing these peace and security issues from both angles, we hope to strengthen peacebuilding in conflict-affected countries.
The third side-event concerns the Bayan program in Afghanistan that Cordaid carries out with Oxfam Novib and Gender Concerns International.
Cordaid’s main partner for lobby and advocacy in New York is the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP). We are also organizing closed meetings to allow partners from Afghanistan and South Sudan to have direct engagement with the key international stakeholders active in their countries.”
What are you looking forward to as to the outcome of the CSW60?
“Of course we hope that a strong, transformative conclusion can be reached. Transformative in the sense of: how can we better advance gender equality to achieve more impact? How can women’s empowerment lead to effective implementation of the SDGs? Not the business as usual. This year, the representatives of Member States need to be stronger than last year, as too much is at stake. The start of the SDGs needs to be done right, and the CSW can really contribute to that!”
“Cordaid wants to bring the linkage between the SDGs and UNSCR 1325 closer together in the field, through listening directly to the voices and realities of women and organizations. That’s also why we recently published the Civil Society Organization (CSO) Survey for the Global Study on Women, Peace and Security (with GNWP, ICAN and the NGO working group WPS) . The inputs from 317 organizations in 71 countries participating in the survey were widely used in the Global Study report.”