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Celebrating International Women's Day through the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women

LWVUS Observers at the United Nations
LWVUS Observers at the United Nations

This guest blog post was written by Melinda Hamilton, President of LWV-Charleston Area and Rosalee Keech, Chief Observer to the United Nations, LWVUS.

It’s no coincidence that we are celebrating International Women’s Day just days before the 63rd session of the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63). This March 11–22, an expected 5000+ delegates from all over the world will gather in New York City to share experiences and strategies for how to overcome obstacles regarding this year’s theme: “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.” The League of Women Voters is proud to be represented at the commission by our UN Observers and 20 official delegates!

This year, the League is working with the Permanent Missions of Trinidad & Tobago, Albania, Fiji and Canada, as well as several important women’s leadership and rights organizations in sponsoring a side event on March 14 at the UN entitled, “From Critical Mass to Parity: Women in Government DO Make a Difference!”

In the U.S., we have seen this phenomenon play out at the national level, especially following the historic 2018 midterm elections in which more women were elected to serve in Congress than ever before.

With more women in decision-making roles, we’ve already seen conversations and priorities shift in our government.

Leagues around the country can also point to this phenomenon happening locally and at the state level. And this is one of the great strengths of the League of Women Voters model: that our UN Observers and delegates can take the lessons from the United Nations and share them with our Leagues locally and at the state level. We know the strength this model has in spreading these critical ideas and inspirations to our activists on the ground who can make a real difference. So, not only is our UN delegation comprised of LWV members, but by sharing the onsite experience remotely via social media, we can engage more League activists in this “think globally, act locally” concept.

This is why I encourage all League members to follow CSW63’s activities and proceedings on  unwebtv.org and to strategize with other members about how these ideas can be implemented in our local communities.

The League of Women Voters was instrumental in garnering public support for the formation of the United Nations following World War II, and in helping to form the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). As the League was one of the first organizations in the country officially recognized by the United Nations as a non-governmental organization (NGO), it still maintains official observer status today and has special consultative status to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

This International Women’s Day, we remember the good work that women have accomplished globally. And we step confidently forward with the assurance that we have power to create change when we think globally and act locally.

LWV at United Nations
LWV UN observers watch proceedings as NGO representatives