New York — Capping two weeks of meetings that drew women from throughout the world, the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women, or CSW, is calling for stepped-up efforts to empower a largely ignored group — rural women and girls.
In a statement on the last day of the March 12-23 conference, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the head of UN Women, the United Nations' secretariat focused on women and girls, hailed the commission's "agreement on measures to bring substantive equality to women and girls in rural areas [as] a vital step forward."
She noted that during the two weeks of meetings, "[We] have heard clearly from the women and girls themselves what they want: from the rights to own property, to the need for quality infrastructure, to the rights to make decisions about their own bodies and lives."
Mlambo-Ngcuka added, "These agreements are made in the meeting rooms of New York but must take effect in the lives of women and girls we are here to serve."
The outcome of the commission's work at the United Nations in New York — called Agreed Conclusions adopted by Member States — includes calls for reforms to help women and girls. These include eliminating laws that make it difficult for women to have access to land and economic resources; closing "gender gaps" for girls in rural education; and strengthening social services so that women and girls are not disproportionally burdened with domestic work and unpaid family care.