UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW): Oxfam side events

Voluntary members of an Oxfam water and sanitation committee, South Sudan. Photo: John Ferguson/Oxfam

The sixty-first session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) runs from 13 to 24 March 2017. The CSW offers an important opportunity for Member States, International Institutions, and civil society to come together and call for urgent action to end gender inequality.

In 2017, the priority theme of the 61st CSW is Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work. This theme has become a key focus of Oxfam’s work on Gender Justice, as women are still significantly more likely than men to live in poverty. Women’s economic empowerment requires the creation of decent, quality work opportunities with fair pay, and an increase in women’s decision making power.

Progress on gender equality and human rights has remained unacceptably slow

Currently eight men own as much as the poorest 3.6 billion people on the planet. Rising inequality has slowed down reductions in poverty, and the majority of the world’s poor continue to be women.

Across the world, women consistently earn less than men and are concentrated in the lowest-paid and least secure forms of work. Globally, the average gender pay gap is 23 percent and 700 million fewer women than men are in paid work. The World Economic Forum has warned that instead of improving in 2016, gender inequality in the economy reverted to where it stood in 2008. At the current rate of progress, it will take 170 years for women and men to be employed at the same rates, paid the same for equal work, and have the same levels of seniority.

Although eradicating extreme global poverty needs to be approached from many different areas, gender inequality in the economy costs women in developing countries $9 trillion a year – a sum which would not only benefit women but would unleash new spending power across communities and provide a massive boost to the economy as a whole.

Clearly, a structural change is needed, and it is vital for fulfilling women’s rights, reducing poverty and achieving broader development goals.

We are calling on governments, at the 61st CSW to:   

  • Challenge structural economic inequality and acknowledge that women’s economic empowerment requires the creation of decent work with fair wages, extending to informal and migrants workers. VAWG in the workplace to also be addressed.
  • Re-affirm their commitment to the stand-alone goal in gender equality within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and identify and implement concrete steps to make this commitment a reality with a focus on care work.
  • Recognise that women’s economic empowerment requires an enabling environment of macroeconomic policies that support gender equality and the creation of decent work, including increasing fiscal space.
  • Address harmful social norms to achieve women’s economic empowerment must be recognised as part of the agreed conclusions, and by donors, international institutions and other actors. An enabling environment to support women’s participation in the workforce is critical.
  • Increase support of women’s voice and leadership - in social movements, collective action and political representation as part of achieving a comprehensive vision of women’s economic empowerment.

Our side events

“Violence against women as an obstacle to economic empowerment” CLADEM, FIDA-Kenya & Oxfam (13 March, 10:30am–12:20pm at the Armenian Convention Centre (Armenian Cultural Center), 630 2nd Avenue, NY).

“Female Food Heroes” Oxfam America (OUS), Horn of Africa Office (13 March, 12:30pm–1:15pm at the Armenian Convention Centre (Armenian Cultural Center), 630 2nd Avenue, NY).

“Addressing Inequalities in Care Work to Achieve Women’s Economic Empowerment” Costa Rica & Oxfam International (13 March, 6:30pm–7:45pm in Conference Room 7 – GA Building, UN Headquarters, NY).

“An Economy that Works for Women” Government of Canada, Oxfam and the Canadian Labour Congress (14 March, 11:30am–12:45pm in the Trusteeship Chamber – Conference Building, UN Headquarters, NY).

“UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment – Presentation of Second Report)” UN SG HLP & Oxfam (14 March, 6:00pm–7:30pm in the Trusteeship Chamber – Conference Building, UN Headquarters, NY).

“Economic Empowerment of Displaced Women” UNHCR, Women’s Refugee Commission & Oxfam (15 March, 4:45pm–6:60pm in Conference Room B – Conference Building, UN Headquarters, NY).

“An “Unstereotyped” World: Catalyzing the private sector to change the way the world works for women by tackling harmful social norms & stereotypes” Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International (15 March, 2:00pm–3:00pm at UN Women HQ (Conference Room 19th Floor), 220 E 42nd Street, NY).

“Tax Justice for Women’s Rights” Global Alliance for Tax Justice, Oxfam, AWID, CESR, ActionAid, Christian Aid, PSI, ITUC (16 March, 6:15pm in the Hardin Room, Church Center for the United Nations, NY).

“Promoting Women’s Economic Participation Through Addressing Unpaid Care and Domestic Work” Islamic Development Bank & Oxfam (17 March, 10:00am–11:15am in Conference Room A – Conference Building, UN Headquarters, NY).

More information

Official meeting schedule

Official side event schedule