56th CSW prioritised rural women empowerment

WINDHOEK: The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty reduction, hunger eradication and development was set as one of the priority themes at the 56th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) this year.

Vice-Chairperson of the National Council, Margareth Mensah-Williams made this statement when she tabled the report on the 56th Commission on the Status of Women here on Thursday.

The 56th session took place in New York, United States of America from 27 February to 09 March 2012.

The CSW is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and is the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women.

Every year, representatives of Member States gather at the 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 women empowerment worldwide.

“Other priority themes include financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women as well as engaging young women and men, girls and boys to advance gender equality,” said Mensah-Williams.

She added that the commission agreed that gender inequality is a major concern, and affects hunger and poverty.

According to discussions at the commission, it is estimated that 60 per cent of chronically-hungry people are women and girls, and that on average women make up about 43 per cent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries.

“Evidence indicates that if these women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms. Research also indicates that when more income is put into the hands of women, child nutrition, health and education improves,” the vice-chairperson said.

Mensah -Williams further noted that there has been significant increase in efforts to mainstream the gender perspective in national development strategies in order to ensure adequate financing for gender equality in sector and local budgets.

Thus, in a number of countries, budget proposals of ministries now require the visible inclusion of gender equality goals and outcomes to monitor performance.

The commission also discussed initiatives to involve young men and boys in efforts to eliminate violence against women, as a good entry point to engage young men in work to advance gender equality.

“Involving young men and boys is particularly important, because it can help them accept alternative models of behaviour and refrain from being pressured into roles of strength and dominance, which can lead to acts of violence,” she explained.

Meanwhile, the recent first-ever Rural Women’s Empowerment Parliament session in Namibia was formed after a four-member delegation of the National Council Women Caucus in Namibia traveled to New York for the 56th Commission on the Status of Women.

The special parliament session involving rural women was aimed at empowering women on grassroots level.

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