CSW63 opened March 11 at UN headquarters in New York. The day started on a sad note as many speakers prefaced their remarks with expressions of condolence and sadness over the plane crash in Ethiopia that claimed the lives of over 150 people including 21 UN colleagues.

In her opening remarks, CSW chair Geraldine Byrne Nason (Ireland) said, “Achieving gender balance and empowering women and girls takes time, yes, but above all it takes conviction and political courage. …  Getting policies right can liberate and empower millions of women and girls. Social security can act as a safety net and as a trampoline. … By considering this theme for the first time ever,  this year at CSW we have the opportunity to break new ground,  a real chance to agree on new normative standards. We are the only international body that can do this.” (Listen to the full address…)

In his remarks, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated, “This is the Commission on the Status of Women.  But it could equally go by another name:  the Commission on the Status of Power.  Because that is the crux of the issue.  Gender equality is fundamentally a question of power…. We know women must be engaged as equal participants in all aspects of society.  That is how we build a better world. This means changing power relations, closing gaps, tackling biases, fighting to preserve hard-won gains and winning ever-greater ground.  Above all, it means believing – never, ever giving up.” (Read more…)

Student responses

It was a very full day. At the end of it, Sister Beatriz asked the students to write a word or phrase to describe their experience on their first day at the UN.

  • Empowering (Thiele, Brazil)
  • A GOOD day! (Maina, Brazil)
  • Eye opening! (Chloe, USA)
  • Engaging! (Faith, USA)
  • Heart-touching! (Viola, Hungary)
  • I felt close to people from the other half of the world (Bori, Hungary)
  • An inspiring day; it made me realize that we can do so much more together.” (Mira, Hungary)