Press release: UN Member States announce next years’ Commission on the Status of Women themes as its 64th session concludes

Date: Tuesday, July 14, 2020

14 July 2020, New York— Today, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the largest annual gathering on gender equality and the empowerment of women at the UN, concluded its 64th session in a virtual meeting, and announced next year session will focus on women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence. In light of the pandemic, this year the usual two-week gathering of thousands of participants had to be scaled back to one meeting on 9 March with delegations and civil society representatives based in New York, and the completion of its work through online means.

2020 is a landmark year towards the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. In this 25th anniversary year of the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, leaders adopted a Political Declaration on 9 March 2020 where they pledged to ramp up efforts to fully implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, still considered the most visionary blueprint on women’s rights. The Political Declaration is the main outcome of the CSW 64th session.

In another key outcome, Member States have now agreed on the next multi-year programme of work for the Commission. This programme sets out the priority and review themes that CSW will be tackling from 2021 to 2024 (full list of priority themes included below). Reaching agreement on this programme “was a very critical responsibility of the Commission”, said the Commission’s Chair, Ambassador Mher Margaryan of Armenia, in his closing remarks. The multi-year programme of work “provides the framework for CSW to play its leadership role as the primary global policy-making body for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls and enjoyment of their human rights. The themes give the Commission the opportunity to advance and strengthen the global normative framework and support governments and other stakeholders as they work to close gaps and respond to new and persistent challenges to gender equality”, he added. Action on the decision now enables Governments, stakeholders, UN Women as the Commission’s Secretariat and all other actors to prepare for innovative and forward-looking sessions.

UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, joined the closing meeting. She noted how the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic had brought to the fore the importance of multilateralism in the promotion of gender equality and the human rights of all women and girls. Referring to the 75th anniversary year of the United Nations, she said that ‘the equal rights of women and men’ promised in the UN Charter remain a key goal of the global community. The COVID-19 pandemic underlined how much work remained to be done. “These challenges have brought new dimensions to our work on gender equality and women’s empowerment. That is why it is urgent that we work together to build back better and why our shared programme of work is more important than ever before,” she said. 

For the 64th session, the UN Secretary-General presented a comprehensive report (E/CN.6/2020/3) that is based on an extensive, participatory stock-taking exercise on women’s rights, combined with global data and analysis. 171 Governments submitted national reports, and hundreds of civil society activists contributed to the national and regional reviews. Building on the UN Secretary-General’s report, UN Women published the Women’s rights in Review 25 Years After Beijing Report, examining progress and obstacles in women’s rights since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995.

Following the closing of the 64th session, the Commission proceeded with the opening of the 65th session, and the election of its Bureau. Armenian Ambassador Mher Margaryan will preside over the session and will be joined by Vice Chairs Ms Ahlem Charikhi of Algeria, Ms Jo Feldman of Australia and Mr Na Sang Deok of the Republic of Korea. A Vice-Chair for the Latin American and Caribbean region remains to be designated. The Chair stressed that “As we proceed, the evolving context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on intergovernmental processes will require our careful attention and planning. I look forward to everyone’s cooperation.”

The priority themes for the 2021-2024 period are:

Sixty-fifth session (2021):

  • Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls;

Sixty-sixth session (2022):

  • Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes;

Sixty-seventh session (2023):

  • Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls;

Sixty-eighth session (2024):

  • Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.

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