The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 63) met this March, to discuss the priority theme on social systems, access to services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The way these are set up has an important effect on the opportunities women have in their lives. The world is developing rapidly and involves complex interacting systems. To build harmonious sustainable communities you need sound foundations, good relationships, and a balance between material, scientific and spiritual aspects. The infrastructure of our societies, the services which underlie and maintain our society and life are taken for granted. They include roads, transport, energy, ports, utilities, education, health care and social support. As populations grow, the complex systems are under strain. There is the equivalent of one new New York city every 2 months, or 1 million more people to cities each week. Women’s empowerment is linked to social, economic and environmental issues. 2019 is the International Year for the periodic table of elements, 159 years from its creation. We can see how some elements we need are in very short supply. There are several new reports about how our demands on the environment are producing serious problems for insects, species, agriculture - and so on, with climate change threatening our way of life. A book “Drawdown: the most comprehensive plan ever to reverse global warming” editor Paul Hawken , lists 80 approaches to improving matters. These include educating girls, plant rich diets, reduced food waste and reducing refrigeration. However it is us people who have to make the changes. Women’s important role in all of these is obvious. We gather knowledge in science and technology – but need to use them wisely. We need goals, vision, a sense of direction, principles, ethics, justice, equity etc. The divisions between people and countries, with less trust in governments, competing ideologies and power struggles will be healed if we focus on maintaining unity. To have harmonious communities you need sound foundations, agreed methods for good communication, cooperation, collaboration and inclusive consultation. If insights are shared, ideas tried, experience understood and learned from, then wise action will create a just, sustainable balance and a peaceful world. Every 10 years after Beijing Platform for Action, there is a review, usually self-congratulatory for countries - as opposed to exposing the real inadequate situation there. 2020 however has important dates to celebrate – Beijing +25; +20 for 1325; +10 for UN Women and 5 year anniversary of agenda 2030. We need to prepare for these occasions.
Sally Spear, UNA Women's Advisory Council