Bush School of Government and Public Service students Denise Wornig and Mariam Chikhladze were selected as delegates from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) to be a part of the 63rd United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The students were able to engage with politicians, attend panels and workshops, and advocate for WILPF’s three core ideas: women, peace, and security; disarmament; and human rights.
The Commission on the Status of Women is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Commission has an annual two-week session where representatives of United Nations Member States, civil society organizations, and UN entities gather at the UN headquarters in New York to discuss emerging issues that affect gender equality and the empowerment of women.
The conference’s theme this year was “Social protection systems, access to public services, and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.” Wornig said she was able to use her knowledge from the Bush School to partake in various discussions and learn about a wide range of topics about women, such as gender budgeting and what her home country of Austria does to include women in policy decisions.
“Being selected by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom to attend the 63rd. United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women is a great honor for me. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get to know the structures of the UN in great detail, and experience and be a part of a global policy-shaping process,” Wornig said about her experience.
Wornig added that studying in the Program on Women, Peace, and Security at the Bush School with Dr. Valerie Hudson prepared her to combine theory with practice. Wornig said the Commission showed her how important it is to have a gender-based approach in any type of work: governmental, nongovernmental, and the private sector.
Chikhladze said the UN Session on the Status of Women was an excellent learning and networking opportunity. CSW is the biggest gathering of hundreds of organizations from all over the world, working on women’s empowerment and gender equality issues. Listening to the reports about pressing issues that women face all around the world was educational and a rewarding experience for her. Chikhladze plans to use her CSW experience to implement policy reforms that will provide social services tailored to the needs of women and girls, particularly in her home country of Georgia.
Chikhladze said she had the opportunity to choose among 500 events that were running during the week-long CSW. This unique platform enabled her to network with women leaders from different countries working on gender issues.
“Participating in CSW 2019 broadened my understanding of the issues prevailing in different parts of the world and exposed me to progressive approaches and policy solutions that proved to be successful in achieving women’s empowerment and gender equality,” Chikhladze said.