“Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls”
Hanifa Mezoui, Phd
Being the UN’s largest gathering on gender equality, this year’s CSW63 focuses on the theme, “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.”
The current CSW63 session was about “getting the job done.” Getting the job of gender equality done is of utmost urgency, because it has been almost 25 years since delegates declared that “women’s rights are human rights,” at the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995. Concerns about potential backsliding on gains already made were expressed. The families and communities most at risk of being left behind in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, lack access to adequate infrastructure, have restricted mobility, and cannot afford private services, including child care, water, sanitation, energy, health facilities and education.
While witnessing notable achievements over the past 25 years, there has been weak delivery on key commitments to these goals and resolutions. The impacts of the gender pay gap, for instance, must be addressed. One of the long-term effects of the gender pay gap over a woman’s working life is an immense pension gap at her retirement. Evidence shows that around the world, the number of elderly women living in extreme poverty is growing.
The gender, wage and pensions gaps, accompanied by the lack of universal social protection seriously jeopardize the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals, which call for an end to poverty and hunger; the achievement of gender equality and decent work.
CSW63 : The outcome of the two-week meeting
Key recommendations from the Agreed Conclusions include the following:
- Invest in social protection, public services and sustainable infrastructure to support the productivity of women’s work, including in the informal economy;
- Ensure that progress in women’s access to social protection, public services and sustainable infrastructure is not undermined by budget cuts and austerity measures, and levels of protection previously achieved are not reversed;
- Build on multilateral commitments to gender equality, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the ILO Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202), to strengthen access to social protection, public services and infrastructure for all women and girls;
- Recognize, reduce and redistribute unpaid care and domestic work by ensuring access to social protection for unpaid caregivers of all ages, including coverage for health care and pensions;
- Scale up investment in quality public care services that are affordable and gender-responsive;
- Identify and remove barriers to women’s and girls’ access to public services, such as physical distance, lack of information and decision-making power, stigma and discrimination;
- Guarantee the availability of safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation, including for menstrual hygiene, in homes, schools, refugee camps and other public places;
- Ensure that transport policies and planning are sustainable, accessible, affordable, safe and gender-responsive, taking into account the different needs of women and men, and adapted to be used by persons with disabilities and older persons;
- Promote the full and equal participation and leadership of women and women’s organizations in policy dialogues and decision-making relating to social protection systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure;
- Strongly condemn the impunity and lack of accountability rooted in historical and structural inequality that accompanies pervasive violence against women.