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International Women’s Day 2023: A Feminist Framework for Our Common Agenda

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On March 8 2023, UNA-UK joined organisations across the globe to mark International Women’s Day. 

UNA-UK CEO Marissa Conway took part in the interactive panel presenting a feminist analysis of the UN Secretary General’s “Our Common Agenda” (OCA) report. Co-facilitated by HE Maria Fernanda Espinosa, President of the 73rd UN General Assembly and Stimson Center’s Nudhara Yusuf, the discussion was wide-ranging, exploring the Women Peace and Security agenda, feminist climate justice, women in global health, and recommendations for a gender equal multilateral system. 

The Secretary-General’s Our Common Agenda Report was mandated by the General Assembly’s Declaration to mark the UN’s 75th anniversary. It set out a vision for a better, more sustainable and peaceful future; and for more effective, inclusive and networked multilateralism, following a global listening exercise where 1.5 million people and 60,000 organisations from 195 countries shared their priorities for the future.

Click here to read our UN Briefing: Our Common Agenda

While the report puts gender equality and women’s empowerment at the centre of the UN’s three pillars - peace and security, human rights, and development - the panel highlighted how a feminist framework is needed to prioritise actions going forward. Respondents to the UN75 consultation were clear that our global system, and the UN in particular, must become more open and inclusive. The panellists each presented key recommendations to advance this work, which will contribute to preparations for the Summit of the Future due to be held in 2024 and the related Pact for the Future. 

Discussing women’s representation and participation in global decision-making, UNA-UK CEO Marissa Conway highlighted the importance of an intersectional approach. Her recommendations included following the lead of feminist civil society who are on the ground, and ensuring appropriate funding, particularly for grassroots feminist movements. Noting the widespread rollback of women's rights globally, she underlined the need to work for institutional reform:

Many states at the UN are using opportunities to try and limit language around gender equality. Our Common Agenda needs to take a stand to ensure that women's rights is an absolute cornerstone of what the UN means - this is hugely important to reshaping global norms and reshaping these systems of oppression.

Additionally, Fatema Khafagy, founder of the Arab Women Alliance, discussed the importance of feminist climate justice, noting the need for a gender and regional lens on the climate crisis. Sarah Hawkes, founder and director of Centre for Gender and Global Health, stressed that bodily autonomy, sexual and reproductive health and rights are fundamental to achieve gender equality, noting that we are living at a time of pushback on these rights. The Foundation for European Progressive Studies’ Aline Burni and Laeticia Thissen discussed ways to apply a Feminist Foreign Policy in multilateral spaces, and in closing, Dubravka Simonovic, the former chair of CSW and former special rapporteur on violence against women, shared insight from the ongoing 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. 

Click here to watch the full panel discussion

The Secretary-General’s Our Common Agenda provides an opportunity for the global community to make progress on strengthening the UN in the face of global threats and interconnected crises. To that end, a group of civil society organisations from across the world are holding a Global Futures Forum on 20-22 March in New York and online, discussing key recommendations and reform opportunities ahead of the 2024 Summit. The Forum will help raise the ambition for the Pact for the Future and its related negotiations tracks - an “action oriented pact” that will be endorsed by Heads of State and Government at the Summit, showcasing global solidarity for current and future generations.

Find out more and participate here: 

Read more:

  • See more about the event from Stimson Center
  • Join the Global Futures Forum from 20-22 March
  • Read UNA-UK’s Briefing on the Our Common Agenda report
  • Watch the UNA-UK moderated event: Insights into the Our Common Agenda report
  • Read about the Together First Campaign’s contributions to the UN75 global listening exercise 

Photo: (Clockwise from top left) Dubravka Simonovic, Nudhara Yusuf, Aline Burni, Laeticia Thissen, Sarah Hawkes, María Fernanda Espinosa, Marissa Conway, Fatema Khafagy and Soon-Young Yoon speak during the event.