20 October 2014

NGO Statement to the 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Representing professional associations in 116 nations, IFSW supports the theme of “achievement of gender equality and empowerment of women” for the 59th session of the Committee on the Status of Women.
The International Federation of Social Workers has a policy that reinforces the theme of the 59th session of the Committee on the Status of Women, as IFSW believes that “attending to the well-being of women and girls is essential to social and economic development worldwide.” IFSW specifically supports the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women as Goal 3 of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

The International Federation of Social Workers has a policy that reinforces the theme of the 59th session of the Committee on the Status of Women, as IFSW believes that   “attending to the well-being of women and girls is essential to social and economic development worldwide.” IFSW specifically supports the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women as Goal 3 of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

The International Federation of Social Workers has a policy that reinforces the theme of the 59th session of the Committee on the Status of Women, as IFSW believes that   “attending to the well-being of women and girls is essential to social and economic development worldwide.”  IFSW specifically supports the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women as Goal 3 of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Challenges

1.    Persistent discrimination against and violation of the rights of the girl child.
Discrimination against girls violates their basic human rights in many different forms around the world through unequal educational opportunities and harmful cultural practices.  The International Federation of Social Workers firmly believes that all discrimination against the girl child must come to an end.

As an example, early child marriage takes place in many parts of the world and a staggering (67 million) number of girls are married before their 18th birthday and about 23 million of those were married before their 15th birthday. According to United Nations Population Fund, this number could more than double by the year 2020. Some of those child brides are as young as five years old.

“Married girls face life-threatening health consequences. About 16 million girls aged 15-19 give birth each year. In nine out of ten of these cases, the girl is already married. Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among girls aged 15-19.”
http://unfpa.org/files/live/sites/unfpa/files/youngtowed/WhatIsChildMarriageFactSheet2_1.pdf

2. Education
It is known that education is a basic human right for all. We must further become aware that equality in education can have a substantial effect on sustainable social and economic development. The International Federation of Social Workers supports equal educational opportunities as a basic human right.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, “Sixty-eight countries have still not achieved gender parity in primary education, and girls are disadvantaged in sixty of them.” http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002175/217509E.pdf

However, research has shown that progress is being made and that even though the gender gap in education still largely exists, it is getting smaller. As per United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s report, the number of countries where girls face an extreme disadvantage fell from 16 countries in 1990 down to 1 in 2010.

3. Health
The International Federation of Social Workers strongly believes that more needs to be done to help keep the women of the world healthy. Maternal Health is one of the Millennium Development Goals and while, according to the UN, maternal mortality has seen a significant decrease in the past two decades, more efforts need to be made. (UN, 2013)

Women need to be able to have access to health care professionals with ease, across the globe. No matter their economic status or location, women need to be able to have access to quality health care professionals within their own communities, in order to help prevent any birth complications.

The UN also states that, “Most maternal deaths in developing countries are preventable through adequate nutrition, proper health care, including access to family planning, the presence of a skilled birth attendant during delivery and emergency obstetric care” (UN, 2013). The actions necessary to take are known; it is a matter of implementation. By making sure that every community has access not only to health care professionals, but educators as well, more women may survive pregnancy and suffer less complications.
(http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/Goal_5_fs.pdf)

4. Poverty
Poverty is still a major issue for all genders, but women of all ages are especially affected. The United Nations states that “the proportion of people living in extreme poverty declined by half at the global level” (UN, 2013). This fact, however does not account for the significant pay differences that women face versus their male colleagues. According to WomenWatch, “more than 1 billion in the world today, the great majority of whom are women, live in unacceptable conditions of poverty, mostly in the developing countries” (WomenWatch, 2010).

The United Nations Development Programme states, “Six out of ten of the world’s poorest people are women who must, as the primary family caretakers and producers of food, shoulder the burden of tilling land, grinding grain, carrying water and cooking…Yet some 75 percent of the world’s women cannot get bank loans because they have unpaid or insecure jobs and are not entitled to property ownership. This is one reason why women comprise more than 50 percent of the world’s population but own only one percent of the world’s wealth” (UNDP, 2014).

The International Federation of Social Workers believes that the efforts to make sure that women are viewed as equal to men but that they also have equal access to services and support systems necessary for one to succeed. A woman’s work is just as valuable as a man’s work. This fact needs to be recognized and the roles of women in the workforce need to be better understood so that women can be as successful as possible.
( http://www.un.org/womenwatch/directory/women_and_poverty_3001.htm,  http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/ourwork/povertyreduction/focus_areas/focus_gender_and_poverty/ )

Summary & Recommendations
Women of all ages, no matter their geographic location or socio-economic status within their communities, should not be discriminated against because of their gender. Whether it be violent acts, being forced to marry at a young age, not having proper access to education or health care, or not receiving the appropriate wages for the work that they do, women face discrimination, in one form or another, every single day of the year. The International Federation of Social Workers supports the efforts to work on these issues and is committed to insuring that the world is equal for everyone, whether male or female. The International Federation of Social Workers makes the following recommendations:

1.    Efforts should be made to increase education and skills training for women and girls in both urban and rural areas.   Women and girls in rural areas are especially in need of access to technology to be able to attain new advanced agricultural methods.
2.    Policy makers, at all levels, need to address the structural factors that perpetuate gender discrimination in society. This discrimination prevents women from having the equal participation and access to education and employment.
3.    In addition, policy makers, at all levels, must protect women and girls of all ages from discrimination and violence
4.    Special attention should be made to protecting girls from unequal treatment and from harmful cultural practices. Governments, civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations should work collectively to promote the right of the girl child.
5.    Evaluation and monitoring efforts should continue to help better understand what trends in practice have made a difference in the equality and empowerment of women and girls of all ages. As well as to further monitor the needs which must still be addressed.