Written by: Gracy Singh
The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) is an intergovernmental body that works primarily towards gender equality and women empowerment by emphasising that women’s rights are equal to human rights. The body documents the reality of women’s lives across the world and shapes global standards with respect to gender equality. It was established as a functional commission of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on June 21, 1946.
The UNCSW has devoted itself to ensuring the implementation of the Platform for Action, which imagines a world where each female can exercise her freedom and choice, and realise all her rights, such as to live free from violence, go to school and participate in decision-making. Since the commission propagates gender equality, it has a direct correlation with SDG 5, which aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls everywhere.
However, to achieve its objective of a non-discriminating society, the UNCSW adopts a holistic approach and employs a gendered perspective to all the SDGs. It is evident that by their nature that SDGs are interdependent and can be realised to their full potential only when there is harmony among all of them.
The UNCSW works along three action lines to progress towards its objective of ending gendered power relations.
Firstly, it aims to strengthen accountability through gender-responsive processes and institutions. This has a direct bearing with SDG 16, which aims to develop strong institutions. Hence, we find that the interdependence between the SDGs requires a coordinated response to a particular issue. Secondly, it calls for the improvement of gender data statistics to effectively monitor progress for women and girls across all goals and targets. Lastly, it aims to generate a positive response by converting policies into practice by ensuring their efficient implementation.
Both nationally and internationally, administrative institutions are highly patriarchal in their functioning. The very nature of governance has a male bias to it. Hence, when it comes to making the SDGs a reality, the specific needs of women must be taken into consideration. This is true for all the goals — SDG 3 that aims at good health and well-being cannot be achieved unless the experiences of women with maternal mortality, pregnancy complications and nutritional requirements are taken into consideration by the institutions that frame these policies.
Similarly, having accurate statistics is of utmost importance to understand how far we have come from the point of origin and how much more we have to travel. It is often found that gender-based statistics are inaccurate due to numerous factors like the prevalence of conservative norms in society or the very patriarchal nature of administration.
When employing a gendered perspective to the SDGs, only a formulation of policies or programmes through a gendered lens is not sufficient. The very implementation of policies needs to be conscious of the existence of this gendered perspective. Power relations with respect to gender are deeply rooted in society and have reinforced material realities that oppress women. This further creates inequality in the life chances of men and women. It is this very notion that the UNCSW aims to highlight by bringing in a gendered perspective in order to achieve the objectives of the SDGs.