The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) took place at the United Nations headquarters in New York from March 11-22, 2019. The theme for CSW63 was “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.”
Thanks to the hard work behind the scenes of PPSEAWA International Representatives to the UN/NY Amy Ai Banker and Kesinee Dulyarat, and the Chairperson of the Programme Development Committee, Helen Yang, PPSEAWA International co-sponsored six parallel events at CSW63.
1. March 11, 2019 - “ADDRESSING GENDER THROUGH THE COMPACT FOR SAFE AND ORDERLY MIGRATION” Moderator: Beverly Bucur, Soroptimist Director of Advocacy
- Barbara Rochman – Soroptimist UN Representative New York, urged women groups to lobby their governments to stop human trafficking and help the women and children victims.
- Yvonne Rafferty, Pace University – discussed her research into the identification, recovery, and reintegration of Victims of Child Trafficking in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). Both girls and boys have been trafficked into child sex exploitation, domestic servitude, restaurant, factory work, agricultural, fishing, poultry industries, organ removal, begging, selling flowers, commercial surrogacy. Lately more attention to emerging form of cyber-based sexual exploitation and alleged exploitation in enterprise zones such as factories, hotels, and casinos.
- Dr. Nina Smart – Human Rights Activist against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), discussed her book, Wild Flower: a true story of a Romanian girl in Africa, abut her personal experiences in Sierra Leone.
- Enpu Kuo, Taiwan Coalition Against Violence Coordinator - shared the development of work with immigrants include foreign female spouses and their children in various communities in Taiwan.
PPSEAWA Panelists shared their perspectives:
- Kesinee Dulyarat, PPSEAWA International Representative to the UN – reported that Thailand had 97,000 refugees in 2017. She spoke on government-provided services such as shelters and medical treatments for children. Professor
- Yolanda Tsuda, PPSEAWA Japan – discussed the impact of changes in Japanese immigration law to fill the labor shortage. Japan will start to accept 340,000 foreign workers from April 2019 as “temporary migrants”. She also spoke compassionately about the experiences of foreign workers in Japan.
- Jenny Yang, President of PPSEAWA Canada – spoke about Canadian missionary George Leslie Mackay, who played a pivotal role in developing education and medicine in Taiwan in the 19th century
- Helen Yang, PPSEAWA International Program Development Chairperson – spoke about best practices from the Soroptimist’s Dream It Be It Program in Taiwan such as immigrant language training, computer training and psychological support services.
Sponsor: PPSEAWA International Program Development Committee. Co-organizers: Soroptimist International, PPSEAWA Taiwan
2. March 12, 2019 - “USING THE SDGS: PREVENTING WOMEN AND GIRLS’ VULNERABILITY TO TRAFFICKING” Speakers:
- Ruchira Gupta, Founder/President of Apne Aap
- Angela Reed, Mercy Global Action Coordinator
- Shandra Woworuntu, survivor and Director of Mentari Human Trafficking Survivor Empowerment Program
Description: The panel began by saying we need to pinpoint and address the root causes that make a person vulnerable to be trafficked – lack of adequate housing and decent work. Then they presented their organization’s mentorship and empowerment programs for survivors of human trafficking and forced marriage in India and Australia. A survivor from Indonesia shared her vulnerable experiences before and after being trafficked in the United States. She founded an organization that provides culinary arts and knitting training in New York and in Indonesia so survivors can gain their financial independence. The whole panel also spoke about advocacy for national and international legal measures against traffickers.
Sponsor: NGO Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons Co-organizer: PPSEAWA International
3. March 14, 2019 - “CRITICAL MASS TO GENDER PARITY - WOMEN IN DECISION-MAKING DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!”
Moderator: Ms. Rosalee Keech, Chief Observer to the United Nations, League of Women Voters
- H.E. Penelope Beckles, Ambassador of the Republic of Trinidad-and-Tobago
- H.E. Besiana Kadare, Ambassador of the Republic of Albania
- Hon. Gabriela Cuevas Barron, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
- Hon. Mereseini Vuniwaqa, Minister of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Fiji
- Hon. Margaret Mensah-Williams, Chairperson of the National Council, Namibia
- Ms. Hanna Kristjánsdóttir, UN Women, Senior Adviser on Women's Leadership
Description: This was a forum of women parliamentarians and organizations on how women leaders have brought about positive change, especially in the area of social protection programs and in efforts to eliminate gender-based violence against women. Research from Inter Parliamentary Union (2008) shows that where there are greater numbers of women in parliament health, education, ending violence against women, social welfare, child welfare and gender equality get paid greater attention.
Sponsors: Permanent Missions of Trinidad-and-Tobago, Fiji, Albania and Canada; IPU and UN Women
Co-sponsors: League of Women Voters - United States (LWVUS), Pan Pacific South East Asia Women's Association (PPSEAWA), International Council of Jewish Women (ICJW), NGO Committee on the Status of Women/New York (NGO CSW/NY), Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas (FAWCO).
4. March 15, 2019 - “EMPOWERING WOMEN AND GIRL REFUGEES THROUGH WEEKEND SCHOOL”
Moderator: Kesinee Dulyarat (PPSEAWA International Representative to the UN)
- Zeynep Cifci, a school counselor for Fort Bend County in Houston, discussed the psychological factors that impact the refugee students.
- Nancy Kara with the Raindrop Foundation works with refugee youth in the arts, including the Turkish art of ebru or paper marbling.
- Ayse Seiha Susla with Embrace Relief and Embrace Your Future shared her work with refugee high school girls to support them to be “first generation” college bound students.
- Seyit Ozturk is an IT specialist in Harmony Public Schools in Houston. He coaches girls on the weekend on FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams for Lego-robotics competitions.
Sponsor: Dialogue Institute Southwest Co-sponsor: PPSEAWA International
5. March 15, 2019 - “NO WOMAN LEFT BEHIND: HOPE FOR WOMEN FACING SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER”
Moderator: M. Victoria Espada, Dianova’s representative to the United Nations
- Liberato Bautista, CoNGO President - emphasized the essential role played by NGOs in bringing their experiences and fieldwork to government discussions in UN forums.
- Lisa Goldfarb, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health Medical Center, explained how gender differences in substance use have subsequent implications in designing treatments for women. Women increase their rates of consumption of alcohol, cannabis, cocaine and opioids more rapidly than men (i.e. “telescoping”). Women with substance use disorders are more likely to suffer post-traumatic disorders and chronic pain, and are at greater risk than men of contracting infectious diseases. The most significant social outcome is substance use is increased gender violence.
- Patricia Latona, Zonta International, touched on the complex relationship between substance addiction and illegal human trafficking. Traffickers prey on vulnerable women and girls with addiction issues, and use drugs to reduce their ability to resist and as rewards/punishment. Victims use drugs as coping mechanism to escape/cope with the trauma of situation. We need more treatment centers for substance use that include medical, psychological and legal services for women.
- Denise Tomasini-Joshi, Director of Open Society Foundations’ Public Health Program, spoke about ending coercive and abusive treatment in healthcare. She pointed out that substance use treatments are based on protocols tested on men so they are not as effective in women. Certain drug treatment available to men BUT not to women. We should separate the use into categories (occasional use, dependency and addiction) to design more effective treatments. Decriminalizing drug use would improve women’s access to support and services.
- Akari Yamada, PPSEAWA International Second Vice President, spoke about adolescent girls and substance use in the United States. Alcohol, marijuana and nicotine are substances most commonly used by adolescents in the U.S. There are many language and cultural obstacles that prevent girls’ access to health services for substance use disorder. However, there are factors that can protect adolescents from substance use, such as feeling connected to their parents, family, school and teachers. School provides an opportunity for use prevention and intervention. There also are extracurricular programs that help girls develop a positive social identity, fight peer pressure, and learn risk-taking in guided learning contexts.
Sponsor: Dianova International
Co-sponsors: PPSEAWA and the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO)
6. March 21, 2019 - “ADVANCING WOMEN‘S HEALTH AND WELL-BEING ACROSS THE LIFE COURSE: NON COMMUNICABLE DISEASES AND UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE”
Moderator: Dr. Elizabeth Carll - UN Main Representative, International Council of Women; Convener, Global Mental Health and NCDs Work Group & Former Chair, UN NGO Comm. on Mental Health; President, CCCUN
- H.E. Mr. Courtenay Rattray - Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Jamaica to the United Nations
- H.E. Mr. Supark Prongthura - Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations
- Dr. Nata Menabde - Executive Director, WHO Office at the United Nations, World Health Organization UN (WHO/UN), New York
- Dr. Nalini Saligram, Founder & CEO Arogya World
- Dr. Miguelina Germán, Director, Pediatric Behavioral Health Services Assistant Professor, Dept. of Pediatrics & Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Montefiore Medical Group
Description: Speakers discussed developments from the Caribbean, Thailand, India, and the U.S. on the integration of physical and mental health services as part of universal health coverage. Examples of successful and replicable programs focused on the workplace, as well as early childhood/family integrated community health services, that are available for all, will be presented.
Sponsor: Permanent Missions of Jamaica and Thailand, the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Council of Women (ICW-CIF)
Co-sponsors: Communications Coordination Committee for the United Nations (CCCUN); NGO Committee on Mental Health Working Group on Global Mental Health and NCDs; Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women's Association International (PPSEAWA); World Federation of Ukrainian Women; UNA-USA
7. March 12, 2019 - PPSEAWA USA co-hosted a welcome reception to kick off CSW63 with PPSEAWA International and the New York Chapter, at the Sardi’s Restaurant. Speakers from the parallel events were joined by PPSEAWA international sisters from Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Thailand, as well as local members from Chicago, Honolulu, and New York.
8. March 13, 2019 - Three Youth Representatives were invited to take part in “Take the Hot Seat: A High Level Intergenerational Dialogue” with senior UN leaders: Connie Chien (Taiwan), Pempho Chikondenji (USA), and Pakchanun Rerngprasertvita (Thailand). We were very proud to be represented by these dynamic young members!
9. March 14, 2019 - We deeply appreciate the invitation from Ambassador Lily L.W. Hsu of TECO in New York to attend the seminar on “Women Leaders Advancement of Public Services for Gender Equality” and reception at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office on March 14, 2019.
Welcome: H.E. Lily L.W. Hsu, Director-General of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York
Keynote speaker: Dr. Yun Fan, Taiwan's ambassador-at-large for women's empowerment, gave a keynote speech on Taiwan as an emerging Asian model for gender equality in political awareness. The women's movement in Taiwan had a strong root in late 1990s because it capitalized on twin trends in politics: democratization (propelled greater women's representation in politics), and globalization (push for global standards on gender issues). Gender education in schools has pushed younger generation to fight for their own rights. Challenges remain in cultural and economic aspects, i.e. the percentage of women on corporate boards (8.3%) clearly lags behind that in the US (14.2%) and European countries (40%).
Speaker: Faye Leone, Project Manager at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). She pointed out that women make up 38% of Taiwan's Legislature. Taiwan could benefit from further incorporating gender equality into other areas to help achieve the objectives of other goals.
- Denise Scotto, VP and UN Representative of Fédération Internationale des Femmes des Carrières Juridiques, pointed to women leadership as the key to democracy, human rights and women’s advancement.
- Dr. Ching-Yi Lin, a legislator and physician in Taiwan, explained that despite policies and laws, glass ceilings are sometimes rooted in culture and can only be broken by action. Women in leadership positions serve as role models to inspire women and girls to reach beyond those ceilings and live to their full potential.
- Julia Maciel González, VP of the UN Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, said that women are creators, innovators, and good administrators. Bringing women into the decision-making process as partners is crucial for the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda.