Women power unions: Advancing women’s leadership at the 65th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women

published 19 March 2021 updated 22 March 2021

The 65th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women is taking place online between the 15th and the 26th of March. Delegates from Education International and other global unions are taking part in the Session to advance women’s full and effective participation in public life.

Delegates representing 43 Education International (EI) member organisations from 32 countries registered for the 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65). The priority theme for 2021 is ‘Women's full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls’.

On the first day of CSW65, Susan Hopgood, EI President, spoke on the panel of a joint global unions parallel event - ‘ Building forward for a fair recovery and gender equality at work’. In a female-dominated sector such as education, the gendered impact of the pandemic has been palpable. EI’s President highlighted the challenges teachers and education support personnel, most of them women, have been facing over the last year as a result of school lockdowns and the sudden and widespread introduction of distance teaching and learning measures. Women educators saw both their school work and their care work rise exponentially.

Throughout the pandemic, education unions everywhere have mobilised to support their membership. Among many other actions, Susan Hopgood highlighted the work of EI member organisations in advocating for equity audits to inform a gender-responsive recovery. Education unions have also been calling for educators to be prioritised for COVID-19 vaccines to enable a safe and permanent return to onsite teaching and learning. In addition, working across borders, EI members are providing resources for a joint solidarity fund to facilitate union work at this critical time.

Labour delegation advancing a progressive agenda

The wider labour delegation of close to 400 women unionists from all over the world are lobbing UN member states during the CSW65 negotiations to adopt progressive language in the outcome document (the Agreed Conclusions) on women’s labour rights, the provision of well financed, equitable, inclusive public education and the elimination of gender-based violence. Education unionists are also advocating for the role of education to be recognised in the global fight against climate change. These are some of the key issues to advance in order to achieve women’s full and effective participation in public life.

Global unions’ events throughout the 65th Session

The first week of the CSW featured several events organised by global unions. In addition to the parallel event exploring a gender-equal recovery from the pandemic, the global unions have also hosted events on:

The second week of the CSW65 will feature a global unions’ parallel event on a feminist taxation framework on Tuesday, March 23rd.