Commission on the Status of Women opens with call for action to achieve universal access and gender equality
02 March 2009
Equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including care-giving in the context of HIV is the theme of the 53rd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) which opened today at UN Headquarters in New York.
Addressing the opening of the 53rd session, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé called for bold, collective action to achieve universal access and to achieve gender equality.
“Gender equality must become part of our DNA -- at the core of all of our actions. Together with governments and civil society, we must energize the global response to AIDS, while vigorously advancing gender equality,” said Mr Sidibé. “These causes are undeniably linked.”
Mr Sidibé highlighted three priority actions needed to make this a reality: integrated delivery of antenatal, sexual and reproductive health and HIV services; respect and protection of human rights; and new models of development in which women and men have greater control over their lives.
"Gender equality must become part of our DNA—at the core of all of our actions. Together with governments and civil society, we must energize the global response to AIDS, while vigorously advancing gender equality. These causes are undeniably linked."
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé
Caregiving and HIV
The majority of people experiencing ill health due to HIV live in low and middle-income countries and are being cared for at home, since health services may be beyond the reach of large proportions of the population. Home and community-based care takes many forms, but typically it is provided by relatives, friends, or community volunteers.
The burden of this care-giving lies disproportionably on women because of gender norms—the widely held beliefs, expectations, customs and practices within a society define ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ behaviours and roles and responsibilities.
Promoting a more equitable sharing of responsibilities between women and men is a practical necessity but alone is not enough to address the current inequalities, said Mr Sidibé.
“Women and girls need legislative and judiciary initiatives, policies and community-driven programmes. These are essential to ensure access to economic resources, social protection and safety nets, and access to education, skills training and employment.”
Over the coming days, participants, including representatives of Member States, UN entities and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations from all regions of the world will explore the theme through a series of interactive sessions.
There will be a roundtable for high-level participants including ministers, deputy-ministers and principal secretaries to focus on experiences and lessons learned.
Technical experts will hold a panel to identify policy initiatives to accelerate the implementation of previous commitments and along with statisticians will hold another panel on capacity-building for gender mainstreaming in relation to care-giving in the context of HIV. This will provide an opportunity for an exchange of national and regional experiences and good practices.
Commission on the Status of Women
The Commission on the Status of Women is a commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. It is the principal global policy-making body. Every year, representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide. This year it runs until 13 March.