Commission on the Status of Women 2011
Education, technology and employment.
These three words and their importance for women were on the table for
discussion at the 55th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
Held in New York this year from Feb 22 – March 4th, CSW is one of the most important annual meetings to promote gender equality. It is coordinated as a part of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). This year’s meeting was the first run under the newly formed body UN Women.
This year’s theme was “Access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work”.
Tonga is one of the 192 United Nations member states but was unable to send a representative to CSW this year. However Tonga has recently released a progress report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Director of the Women and Children Crisis Centre, Ofakilevuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki said “Tonga has a lot of progress to make to achieve its international commitments; especially in regards to incorporating a more comprehensive gender analysis throughout all the MDGs.”
CSW reiterated the importance of nations maintaining their obligations to the MDGs.
The 55th CSW outcomes document included improving access by women and girls to education, especially in the fields of science and technology, with key resolutions on gender and HIV/AIDS and climate change.
The Commission highlighted concern for the increase in dropout rates of female students in many parts of the world, including Tonga, owing to multiple discrimination and factors that impede girls’ participation in education “If girls become pregnant while they are in school, unfortunately many loose access to completing their education. It’s a violation of their rights and we end up in a situation where young mothers are being further disadvantaged” said Guttenbeil-Likiliki.
CSW also assessed the progress of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which aims to achieve full and equal access and participation of women and girls in education, training and science and technology.
The Convention of the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was discussed again at CSW, with positive reports that ratification of the convention leads to Governments developing policies and laws that promote women’s human rights. Emphasis was placed on nations to ratify the convention. Tonga is one of the few Pacific nations that have not yet ratified CEDAW.