United Nations Commission Status of Women 60th                             March 12 – 19, 2016

CFUW Delegation

Brenda Robertson

The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women 60th (UNCSW 60th) was an extraordinary week-long experience for the CFUW delegates.  Exceptional sessions, speakers, networking with women from around the globe provided the opportunity to learn, and develop personally and professionally. 

“Girls at the Table”: Implementing the SDGs introduced me to Girls Learning International, and the Working Group on Girls which provides girls with opportunities to lead and have authentic engagement at every level at the UN. Each of the six panelist moderated by the two accomplished youths, shared their grass roots efforts to advocate for girls’ rights in her country. Canada was one of the sponsoring countries for this session with adult moderator Minister Bibeau. Building capacity among young girls through this organization is a goal CFUW should consider.

“Survive and Thrive” began the session, Roadmap for Realizing Rights: Every Women and Every Child to access Health Care. Collaboration with governments, NGOs and stakeholders is needed to address VAW, FGM, early/forced marriage, HIV/AIDS, Rape as a weapon of war, maternal mortality, and psychological traumas.  The UN Secretary General stated,” The Path to Success is the path to Human Rights”.

“The Power of Indigenous Women is the Power of Water.  One drop at a time can wear away the strongest opposition.” Said Dr. Dawn Memee Lavell-Havard, President of the Ontario Native Women’s Association who spoke so eloquently that the assembly broke into applause numerous times. When the previous Canadian government dismissed and deflected the pleas for justice, Dawn brought the injustices to the international body, the United Nations. This UNCSW event, Indigenous Women: Pathways to Equality demonstrated the ongoing struggle and also the hope of a better future.

Each of the many Side Events attended provided much on which to reflect and to take action.  To achieve AGENDA 2030 bold steps are needed.  To achieve any of the goals, gender equality is essential.


A Meeting Room in the General Assembly Building


One of the Sustainable Development Goals 

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Artwork Presented by the USA to the UN


Mural of Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon and the UN Buildings

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Brenda with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals


Every Women, Every Child: This side event focused on the access to Health Care for women and children.

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Award Presentation to Secretary- General Ban-Ki-Moon "Delivering for Women and Children”


Empowering Women Forum: Discussion with PM Justin Trudeau, USA News Anchor, Executive Director UN Women, Under-Secretary-General Phumzila Mlambo Ngcuko 

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Brenda and Abby Wamback, FIFA USA World Champion (Soccer), Panelist Member for the Consultations of the UN Secretary-General: Women's Economic Empowerment.  Abby spoke on women in sports and the disparity on many levels between women and men.

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Brenda with Executive Director, UN Women, Under-Secretary-General Phumzila Mambo Ngcuka at One of the High Level Meetings


A Side Event Indigenous Women:  Pathways to Equality Moderator, Canadian Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, Attorney General (4th from left  from left side); (from the left) Canadian Minster  Hjadu; Canadian Minister Bennett; Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau; Canadian Attorney General; Dr. Dawn Memee Lavell-Harvard, Ontario Native Women's Association; Betty Lyons (Onondaga Nation), President and Executive Director of the American Indian Law Alliance; Dr. Mirna Cunningham of Nicaragua, Miskito Indian, an important Human Rights Activist and Political Leader of Indigenous Peoples in the Americas; Chandra Roy Henriksen, Chief Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 

Brenda’s Report on the Conference for the Ontario Council Dates and Data March Newsletter

President’s Message                                                                   Post D&D March Newsletter 2016

The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women 60th (UNCSW 60th) was an extraordinary week long experience for the CFUW delegates.  Exceptional sessions, speakers, networking and enjoyable conversations with women from around the globe provided the opportunity to learn and develop personally and professionally. CFUW sends a twenty member delegation annually to the March UNCSW, and this year, I was one of those delegates, and truly appreciated the opportunity to attend my first UNCSW.

The priority theme for UNCSW60  is “Women’s Empowerment and its link to sustainable development.”

The UNCSW60 would also focus on opportunities for achieving Goal 5, gender equality.

“The 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.”

CFUW can be proud of its effort to pass a National Resolution, taking it to the International Triennial and work with like-minded partners to promote the establishment of UN Women.

“UN Women was formed in 2010 by the merger of four women’s entities at the UN.  Its main roles are to support the inter-governmental bodies, such as the CSW, in formulation of policies, global standards and norms.  It also helps Member States to implement these standards and hold the UN system accountable for commitments on gender equality.”

I had the privilege of meeting the current Executive Director, Under Secretary General UN Women, Phumzila Mlambo-Ngcuka who you may have seen in a discussion forum with Prime Minister Trudeau.

How energizing to have Canada so well represented with our PM, and numerous Ministers who were accessible for conversations.   And how refreshing to have “feminism” being used with positive connotations and Canada putting a spotlight on Status of Women with funding to support women’s groups.

One of the two recipients of the Woman of Distinction Award presented by CSW went to Bandana Rana from Nepal who could only talk with women very early in the morning as they went to get water as that was the only time they were not accompanied by a man.  Through her efforts the women learned that violence and abuse were not acceptable and they could escape this treatment.  This would take tremendous courage as the most dangerous place to be was in the house where their voices were smothered. The violence impacted education and poured into the children, but where were the women to go and who would help.   Bandana applied for Seed money from UN Women to set up a shelter and now runs three shelters called Saathi and is the founder of National Network Against Violence Nepal.

In 2009, at the Women’s World Conference on Shelters, she realized she was not alone in this effort, that domestic abuse and violence against women was a global concern.  

Bandana sees the movement building and the necessity to engage the community voices, men and boys if the mindset is to be changed.  Engaging all levels of government without confrontation is essential for policies to be developed and a political will to implement the laws.

When asked what she would like to see in ten years, her answer was,

“There would be rejoicing at the birth of a girl”.  Sadly this has not happened yet. 

 She would also like to see homes free of violence, and women paid wages equal to work done.

Her faith is strong and says change is possible.  Change is possible with collective energy.

Throughout the week, individuals such as Bandana, groups as The Working Group on Girls, Bringing Girls to the Table, and sessions as Every Woman Every Child, and Indigenous Women, Pathways to Equality were awe inspiring and motivational to take action. “ No One Left Behind “  was an anthem heard loud and clear.

You are encouraged to consider putting your name forth for future sessions of the UNCSW.

For now, “Bold Steps are required to realize the goals for the UNCSW AGENDA 2030.



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