By Confidente Reporter
NATIONAL Council Chairperson and President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Women`s Bureau, Margaret Mensah-Williams, has chaired a series of meetings at the 136th IPU Assembly in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The meetings dealt with the outcomes of the parliamentary meeting held during the 61st Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), on 17 March in New York.
During one of the parliamentary meetings she chaired, Mensah-Williams informed the Forum of Women Parliamentarians that the CSW had reached three main key decisions, of which one was women economic empowerment.
She said that addressing women empowerment meant cross-cutting issues, such as a gender stereotypes, discriminatory legislation, gender-based violence and unequal access to education and decision-making positions.
Representatives of member states, UN entities, and Economic and Social Council-accredited non-governmental organisations (NGOs), from all the regions of the world, attended the CSW session.
The other key CSW decision presented by Mensah-Williams was that parliaments must review their labour and social policies, to promote equality at work.
“We need affordable childcare. Also, we must ensure that unpaid care work is shared between men and women, if we are to ensure equality in paid work. This is key to achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, and in particular target 5.4. We also need legislation on equal pay,” Mensah-Williams emphasised.
While addressing the Forum of Women Parliamentarians, she pointed out that social protection coverage must cut across all sectors, including those mostly occupied by women, such as the care economy and the informal sector.
“We must ensure that the workplace is a safe place for women, and we must combat sexual harassment. Also, women need to be elevated into leadership positions,” she added.
The last CSW decision she dealt with was about the need to promote the ability of women to hold the purse strings and make economic decisions, so that they can own land, access credit, freely invest, save and start their own businesses.
“Again, this is a key element of SDG 5… Specific, targeted measures for women’s financial inclusion are key,” she said.
She added that financial services must be accessible and affordable, before adding that budgets and fiscal policies should also be scrutinised through a gender lens, so that they deliver to women.
Mensah-Williams explained that there are cross-cutting issues that are important for the Forum of Women Parliamentarians to bear in mind, when discussing economic empowerment and the financial inclusion of women, such as that they are not a homogenous group and that women with disabilities require particular attention.
She said all women empowerment legislation requires strong oversight from parliamentarians, to ensure that they are implemented, resourced and monitored, and that they deliver to women.
The CSW was hosted under the themes ‘Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work’, ‘Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls’ and ‘Emerging issue/focus area: The empowerment of indigenous women’.
The UN Commission on the Status of Women parliamentary meeting, which Mensah-Williams chaired, was organised jointly by the IPU and was titled ‘Empowering parliaments to empower women – making the economy work for women’.
IPU is an international organisation of parliaments and the focal point for worldwide parliamentary dialogue.
It works for peace and cooperation among peoples and for the firm establishment of representative democracy.
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