Letter From The Chairperson
It is with immense pleasure that I invite you to the 2nd Sir Mutha Model UN conference, 2019. I am happy and proud that you have opted to be part of the UN Commission on Status of Women. The topic of discussion is one that is very vast, and also of critical importance globally. We, as a committee, ought to strive to come up with solutions that would make women and youth more inclusive in the progcess of governance. You will be judged on your analytical abilities, your problem solving abilities, adherence to foreign policy, your lobbying skills and your debating skills. Over the course of the two days of the conference, I look forward to seeing healthy debate and wonderful solutions to this global problem. I am certain that this MUN is going to be a great learning experience and also a lot of fun. I wish you all the very best with your preperation. Please note that you ought to use this background guide merely as a starting point of your research, and you certainly would have to be researching over and above the contents mentioned herein. Once again I wish you all the very best.
Executive Board of UNCSW
The United Nations for long has encouraged the prospect of involving women and youth in decision-making and has stated that it crucial in order to achieve peace, over all development, and achieve a closer step towards safeguarding human rights, and justice. The involvement of women and youth in government promotes democratic governance, improves political decision-making, and engenders the likelihood of implementing sustainable peace.` Past examples have demonstrated that involving women and youth in government gives rise to policies that promote gender equality, eliminate gender-based violence, and improve the social, economic, and political rights of women and children. The United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) works to mainstream gender balance and highlight emerging issues facing women and young people, especially girls, in government. While the involvement of women and youth in government affairs has steadily increased over the past 20 years, it is still critically lower than the goals set by the international community. Women remain significantly underrepresented in governance, voter participation, and leadership, especially at the highest levels of elected office, civil service, and the private sector. As of 2017, only 16 women were serving as Head of State, and nine as Head of Government. The number of women parliamentarians in
lower houses of national parliaments reached 23.4% in 2017, which is only 10%
higher than in 2000, and only 18.3% of national government ministers were women as of January 2017. The proportion of women elected to local government is not tracked at the global level, which constitutes a major knowledge gap in women’s
The UN defines youth as persons between 15 and 24 years old, although there are some cases in which the term can include individuals up to the age of 35.76 Despite the fact that youth make up almost half of the world’s population, young people are not highly involved in political decision-making. As of 2016, less than two percent of global parliamentarians were under the age of 30.78 Global voter turnout also continues to be lower for persons aged 18 to 25 than for other age groups, and a majority of Member States do not consult young people in policymaking anddecisionmaking. There are a variety of political, economic, and social challenges that work against inclusivity in governmental practices. Due to the slow progress in the involvement of women and youth, the international community has affirmed the need to strengthen political commitments and to pursue programs that promote the involvement of women and youth through voting, caucuses, and increased representation. Through capacity-building and the sharing of best practices, the international community can work more effectively toward mitigating the challenges facing women and youth in government.
International And Regional Framework
On the international level, the political rights of women have been highlighted and promoted in a multitude of conventions, declarations, and resolutions. The International Bill of Human Rights, which serves as the cornerstone of the UN system’s human rights framework, consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (1966) and its two Optional Protocols, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) (1966). These instruments not only protect the inalienable rights of women and girls, but ensure equal participation in civil and political matters for all peoples. Soon after its establishment, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Political Rights of Women (1952), which established women’s basic political rights, including the right to vote, the right to hold public office, and the right to run for office. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (1979) is considered the first
international bill of rights for all women. It urged Member States to eliminate all discrimination against women in the public sphere and promoted the right of women to serve and represent their country on the international stage. The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA) was adopted in 1995, and outlined the importance of involving women, youth, policymakers, and relevant civil society organizations (CSOs) in decision-making processes.The Beijing Declaration called upon governments to use specific targets and various measures to achieve gender equality in public office. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2015), which established the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), highlights the importance of involving and empowering all vulnerable populations, including women and youth. SDG 5 is dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. SDG 4 centers around access to education and training for all and Target 5.5 focuses on ensuring women’s full and effective participation in political and economic decision-making. SDG 16 also considers the importance of ensuring that governmental organizations can effectively implement the SDGs through inclusive institutions. The 2030 Agenda frames the significance of women’s empowerment in its 20th clause, Realizing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will make a crucial contribution to progress across all the Goals and
targets. The achievement of full human potential and of sustainable development is not possible if one half of humanity continues to be denied its full human rights and opportunities. Women and girls must enjoy equal access to quality education, economic resources and political participation as well as equal opportunities with men and boys for employment, leadership and decision-making at all levels. The rights of children and youth have been on the international agenda since before the establishment of the UN, though the notion of children’s political rights did not emerge until the late 20th century. 1989 saw the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which established the rights of children and youth to participation in decision-making processes, especially regarding policies that directly affect their lives. The World Programme of Action on Youth (WPAY) was adopted by the General Assembly in 1995. The WPAY focused mainly on providing youth with the tools to become involved in government through providing information to young people and strengthening youth caucuses. The international community has since added to the WPAY, bringing further specificity to indicators of the goals
outlined in the WPAY as well as calling to improve data collection and the measurement of these indicators. The 2030 Agenda acknowledges that the political,economic, social, and environmental future of the international community lies in the hands of today’s youth, and outlines the need for quality education and employment for young people in order to promote their involvement in sustainable development according to SDGs 4, 8, and 13. Regardless of the target population or the need for capacity-building and training, the overall goal of these documents is to strengthen an individual’s ability to perform in a public forum. Regionally, Member States have collaborated to create various frameworks in order to promote the involvement of women and youth in government. The 1948 Inter-American Convention on the Granting of Political Rights to Women, a document of the Organization of American States (OAS), was one of the first international documents explicitly dedicated to women’s involvement in government. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Committee on Women (ACW) has adopted the ACW Work Plan 2016-2020, which highlights women’s leadership and non-gender stereotyping in the public
sector. The European Commission has multiple frameworks and reports regarding
women’s involvement in governance, the most significant and contemporary of which is the Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality 2016-2019, which centers around involving women in the economy and in governance and decision-making. The African Union (AU) recently released the African Gender Scorecard, which provides solid data on indicators of women’s status in African states, including involvement in government. All of these documents emphasize the importance of placing women in leadership and decision-making roles in order to promote sustainable peace and development in their respective regions.
Challenges Facing Women And Youth In Government
Due to continued discrimination, gender-based violence, biases in the workplace, harassment, and intimidation, the progress of increasing women in government has slowed to near stagnancy. Political, social, and economic difficulties contribute to the low participation of women and youth in government service, and this effect is exacerbated through gender role expectations. Due to insufficient coordination and specific targets for implementation, the underrepresentation of women in decisionmaking continues to be a problem, even for Member States that have policies supporting gender equality. The specificity of goals, measurements of achievements, coordination, and data collection would provide the international community with the tools it needs to implement effective policies for the inclusion of women in government. Lack of opportunity is the main challenge facing the involvement of young people in government. Limited opportunities for youth to be effectively
involved in decision-making processes cause exclusion and marginalization of young women in governmental institutions. Building trust between youth, their mentors, and policymakers is a key aspect in developing a productive environment. Lack of access to basic development needs also causes strain on youth trying to become involved in government, especially for young girls. Due to intersecting issues of gender, poverty, barriers to education, and lack of access to healthcare, young women are excluded from decisionmaking or lack the resources to effectively participate.
Although the international community has been working toward gender parity in
education and economic empowerment for decades, women and youth continue to
experience unequal access to education, training, and other opportunities such as volunteerism that would enable them to more seamlessly transition into public
service. As a result of social norms and the traditional division of household responsibilities, women face difficulties leaving the home and serving in government due to childcare needs; some women find their participation hindered by traditional viewpoints that would frame women politicians as neglectful to their family due to their profession. Governance bodies around the world have used parliamentary procedure and institutional tools, such as votes of no-confidence and manipulation of quorum requirements, to exclude women representatives from participating in governmental affairs. Youth are often excluded from political discourse due to gender, class, or location. Governmental bodies may also fail to implement gender mainstreaming policies because of limited political will and resources.
Role Of The International System
CSW is mandated to help implement the BPfA and to assist in mainstreaming a
gendered perspective into UN activities. Due to its interest in promoting women’s political rights and their empowerment, CSW has taken a multitude of actions to promote the involvement of women and youth, particularly girls, in government. In its 60th session (CSW60), CSW discussed “strengthening women’s leadership and women’s full and equal participation in decision-making in all areas of sustainable development.” CSW60 also highlighted the importance of training and education programs, as well as the implementation of special measures and affirmative action programs in order to increase the number of women in political leadership. The 61st session of CSW (CSW61) centered around women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work. During this session, there were also a large number of side events which brought together young people to strategize and contribute to policies to achieve gender equality and sustainable development. These sessions hosted nearly 1000 youth diplomats and centered around the empowerment of young women.Education, employment, and treatment of young women were highlighted as key aspects of promoting the involvement of youth, especially girls, in decision-making positions, thereby bolstering the future involvement of women in government.
The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and other UN entities have released a number of reports which outline specific steps that Member States can take in order to promote gender equity in governance and policymaking; among these are Achieving Gender Equality: Women’s Empowerment and Strengthening Development Cooperation, published by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), and Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work, published by the UN Division for the Advancement of Women. ECOSOC held a 2017 Youth Forum in order to involve young people in sustainable development. The forum revolved around strategies to engage youth in local, national, regional, and international efforts to achieve the SDGs. In addition, Youth 4 Global Goals (Youth4GG) is a UN initiative that works to actively involve young people in the achievement of the SDGs.Youth4GG engages youth on platforms of awareness, understanding, and action, and attempts to create easily understandable discussion points around issues such as gender equality. Monitoring and the implementation of the SDGs is key to involving women and youth in government. The SDGs are a set of global goals for which the international community has created monitoring groups such as the Interagency Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs). The IAEGSDGs is working to implement a global indictor framework to monitor progress toward the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda. IAEG-SDGs has paired with the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to collect and disseminate metadata on specific SDG targets, including targets 4.1, 4.8, 5.5, and 8.6.125 The UN Educational, Scientific
and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) held a workshop in 2015 regarding the
contribution of youth in monitoring the SDGs. The workshop focused on
disseminating information, tools, and methods to monitor SDG progress. The HighLevel Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development recently held a thematic review of SDG 5, which indicated the steady but slow progress of all targets within the goal, including involving women in government. UN-Women has highlighted the need for a mechanism to monitor the number of women involved in local governments; no such mechanism currently exists, but such data is vital to
understanding barriers to the participation of women in local government. Genderresponsive public policies and the involvement of women and youth in government are heavily influenced by CSOs and how they engage with decision-makers. Not only can CSOs, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), champion legislation that addresses challenges facing women and youth in government, such as domestic violence and lack of economic resources, but they can also provide effective training programs for political candidates and representatives. CSOs engage directly with governments and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) in order to strengthen advocacy programs, collect data, and share best practices to create the most effective approach to an issue. CSW has worked directly with many CSOs, requesting that they assist governments in implementing international agreements that promote women’s rights, provide financial resources to governments and women-led political campaigns, and assist in the efforts of women striving to become involved in governance, particularly in developing countries. This is often facilitated through
organizations such as the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, which organizes
CSO and NGO participation in the activities of CSW, including an NGO Consultation Day to discuss issues pertaining to women and girls. The NGO Committee on the Status of Women also maintains a professional network to empower young people, especially young women, to help achieve gender equality.
Links For Further Research
Profile of Chairperson:
UNCSW: kathiyayani Sivakumar
Kathyayani is a student of engineering from SSN college of engineering Chennai. She was an active MUNner from her school days in Chennai. Having travelled to various parts of the world including for serving as an Assistant Director at Yale MUN Korea and Harvard MUN India and China she certainly brings on board a great deal of experience and her gentle approach in Chairing beginners is only surpassed by her immense knowledge in Women rights issues making her the idea Chairperson for UNCSW.