Shyama Venkateswar Distinguished Lecturer, Hunter College and Director, Public Policy Program, Roosevelt House

Posted on March 18, 2016 · Posted in Frank Friday

The 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is currently taking place at the United Nations with a focus on “women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development.” For two weeks every year in March, the Commission comes together to assess the work of the United Nations in relation to women and girls worldwide and to make recommendations to step up efforts to address barriers and challenges. Concurrently, civil society groups are given the opportunity to participate in the NGO CSW Forum; activists from around the world convene panels in “parallel events” to network, share good practices, identify critical issues at grassroots levels, and lobby governments to implement resolutions and treaties.

The CSW meetings every year are effective forums to gather recommendations on how to build a critical mass of women in key and strategic leadership positions. Activists turn their attention to the low numbers of women in leadership roles across the world — in boardrooms in corporations, or at the helm of multilateral organizations like the United Nations, the IMF or World Bank. They also look closely at the paucity of women in the fieldnegotiating peace settlements and overseeing post-conflict reconstruction and governance and its implication for lasting peace.

Whether you approach the question of gender parity in terms of rights or equity, or argue that it simply makes economic sense, researchers have found gender to be an effective analytic tool to understand the benefits of having more women in leadership positions and also in creating economic value. Evidence also shows that having more women leaders at various levels of society often translates to:

Despite these important benefits, great challenges remain in achieving gender parity in most parts of the world in terms of education, employment, meaningful representation in legislatures, corporations and other places, not to mention eliminating the violence — actual and the threat — many women endure in their lives globally. Join the discussions and participate at the open sessions at this year’s CSW meetings which end on March 24th, 2016.

The writing and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute or Hunter College.