The Australian Government Office for Women led Australia’s delegation to the 54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women and 15 year review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
Australia was represented at the 54th Commission of the Status of Women (CSW), held in New York from 1-12 March 2010, by a delegation comprising representatives from the Office for Women, the Equal Employment for Women in the Workplace Agency, AusAID, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, and the Human Rights Commission.
Also included on the Australian Government delegation were two Indigenous delegates and a community sector expert.
This year CSW (also known as Beijing +15) celebrated the 15 year mid-term review of the Beijing Platform for Action. This was an opportunity to review the Beijing Platform for Action internationally and for Australia to share its achievements in ensuring women’s equality and empowerment.
The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted at the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995. It is an internationally agreed plan for achieving equality for women across 12 critical areas – poverty, education and training, health, the economy, power and decision-making, human rights, armed conflict, institutional mechanisms, the environment, women and the media, violence against women; and the girl child.
Ms Sally Moyle, the Australian Government Office for Women, delivered Australia’s Country Statement highlighting key initiatives taken over the past five years to strengthen gender equality and calling upon the international community to work together toward the goal of gender equality and the advancement of women.
Unlike previous years, this year the Commission did not produce Agreed Conclusions (policy recommendations for member states). Instead, the Commission adopted a short Declaration on the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and negotiated seven resolutions on specific issues:
- Women's economic empowerment
- Eliminating maternal mortality and morbidity through the empowerment of women
- Strengthening institutional arrangements of the UN for support of gender equality and the empowerment of women by consolidating the four existing offices into a composite entity
- Women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS
- Release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned in armed conflicts
- The situation of and assistance to Palestinian women
- Ending female genital mutilation
The text of these resolutions can be found in the Report of the 54th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
Australia participated actively in the negotiations of the resolutions on women’s economic empowerment and the elimination of preventable maternal mortality and supported the adoption of the resolution on strengthening institutional arrangements in the UN for gender equality along with 190 other countries.
The Australian Government Office for Women also funded a series of community consultations and an online survey on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action by JERA International. Women and men from around Australia provided their views on how the Beijing Platform for Action is being implemented in Australia. The findings from the consultations informed the Australian Government’s preparations for the regional and global review of the Beijing Platform for Action.
In its role as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, the Australian Government has also supported Pacific women’s machineries to prepare for and engage in CSW 54/Beijing +15. This support included:
- funding a Beijing +15 review report that consolidates Pacific Island country responses to the Beijing Platform for Action regional review questionnaire and provides a synthesis of the critical areas of concern for Pacific Island nations to take forward at CSW 54 (Beijing +15)
- funding for the flights for two Pacific Island delegates to attend CSW54 in New York, and
- providing on-the-ground support at CSW54 in the form of hosting a Pacific Islands Side Event and a preparatory workshop for Pacific delegates to assist with their engagement with CSW.