The 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women held on 6-17 March 2023 at the UN Headquarters in New York gathered representatives of member states, UN entities and non-governmental organizations for the first in-person session since the pandemic.
Considering the priority theme on innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age, and the review theme, achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls, the Philippines sent a delegation to the UN CSW67 composed of representatives from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Department of Agriculture (DA), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Presidential Communications Office (PCO), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK) and the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA). The PCW and DFA co-led the preparations for the Philippine Delegation’s participation in the session.
DILG Undersecretary Margarita N. Gutierrez, in a national statement delivered on March 9, 2023, acknowledged that while the country is lagging in digital indices due to challenges in Internet connectivity, speed and reliability, it has successfully leveraged digitalization and innovation to benefit women and girls in entrepreneurship, agriculture, education, law enforcement, and preventing online gender-based violence, especially in the context of the pandemic.
DICT Undersecretary Anna Mae Lamentillo, in a Ministerial Round Table, shared DICT’s good practices in addressing barriers to bridge the gender digital divide and promote education in the digital age.
DA Director Annray Villota Rivera highlighted that rural women continue to experience persistent gender inequalities despite crucial contributions in agriculture and the key roles they play in family food security and nutrition, during the interactive dialogue on the review theme of empowering rural women and girls.
DOST Assistant Secretary Diana L. Ignacio presented examples of the Philippines’ initiatives to address the gendered impacts of digitalization and how it fosters STEM education in the interactive dialogue on the priority theme of innovation and digitalization. During the Interactive dialogue with youth representatives on the priority theme.
DICT Head Executive Assistant Nicole Uy, a young woman educated in STEM, emphasized that the youth are in a unique position to benefit from innovation and technological advancements. NEDA Assistant Secretary Sarah Daway-Ducanes discussed the Philippines’ initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic that addressed the partial slowdown of progress achieved towards Ambisyon 2040 during the interactive dialogue Getting back on track: Achieving gender equality in a context of overlapping emergencies.
The delegation organized a side event, led by PCO Undersecretary Cherbett Karen Maralit, entitled “CyberSafe:
Ensuring Women and Girls’ Safe Online Access against Fake News” on 10 March 2023. It was co-sponsored by the Government of Australia, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA). It discussed the damaging effects of fake news on women and girls, and the importance of partnerships to address this issue. The side event was attended by Australia’s Ambassador for Gender Equality H.E. Stephanie Copus Campbell, IOM Deputy Director-General Ms. Ugochi Daniels and high-level members of the Philippine Delegation including H.E. Antonio Lagdameo, the Philippines’ permanent representative to the UN in New York.
DILG Usec. Gutierrez, DICT Usec. Lamentillo, DOST Asec. Ignacio, and CHR Commissioner Faydah Dumarpa and the rest of the delegation also joined side events and shared the Philippine experience on matters related to the themes. Usec. Lamentillo shared how the government empowers women micro-entrepreneurs in the digital economy at a side event led by the GSM Association of telecommunications. Comm. Dumarpa, the first Muslim woman to be appointed as Commissioner for Human Rights, emphasized how the Philippines has advanced the situation of Muslim women and girls during the Conference on Women in Islam. Asec. Ignacio spoke at a side event on accelerating sustainable economic prosperity by empowering MSMEs and supporting women in the workplace, sharing how the Philippine Development Plan establishes a dynamic ecosystem for innovation. “In the Philippines, we have shaped our legal framework to address the vulnerabilities of women and girls in times of emergencies,” shared Usec. Gutierrez, who also cited national policies and programs that facilitate access to justice for victims of gender-based violence in complex situations in a side event organized by the International Development Law Organization (IDLO).
Finally, the delegation also had the opportunity to have bilateral meetings with the US, Timor-Leste and Singapore represented by Ambassador H.E. Linda Thomas Greenfield, Cabinet Minister and Permanent Representative of the US to the UN; H.E. Maria do Rosario Fatima Correia, Secretary of State for Equality and Inclusion of Timor-Leste; and H.E. Xueling Sun, Minister of State, Ministry of Social Development and Family Development of Singapore, respectively. At the bilaterals, Usec. Gutierrez reaffirmed the Philippines’ commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment, and offered to deepen possible collaboration with these countries on gender mainstreaming, food security, digital governance, women’s economic empowerment, leadership and political participation, STEM education, and research and development.
Member States adopted on 17 March 2023 the agreed conclusions which is the outcome of the CSW’s consideration of the priority theme and negotiated by all Member States. The text considered that women and girls are more susceptible to online violence, and how the use of technology can promote their rights but also perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes and negative social norms. The agreed conclusions summarizes the Member States’ commitments to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment through innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age.
“The PCW shall host a Feedback Forum in May 2023 to report on the outcomes and commitments of the Philippines at the CSW67 and to solicit support from various stakeholders to implement programs, projects and activities to implement the agreed conclusions”, says PCW Executive Director Atty. Kristine Rosary Yuzon-Chaves.
“We are also pleased to announce the country’s Chairship of the CSW68 in 2024. This affirms the Philippines’ commitment to pursue gender equality in all aspects of the development process towards a gender-responsive society, both at the international and domestic fronts”, says Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the UN, Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo. The priority theme for next year’s CSW68 is “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective, and the review theme is the agreed conclusions on “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls”.