“Change is coming. Change has to come” said the UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the 2015 Commission on the Status of Women at the UN Nations Headquartered in New York.

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CSW 2015_GC4W Recap

The year 2015 marks 20 years since the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted in the Chinese capital at the Fourth World Conference on Women. Hillary Clinton, then United States First Lady, delivered a keynote remarks in which she famously said: “Let it be that human rights are women’s rights – and women’s rights are human rights – once and for all.” The signed resolutions was considered the world’s most comprehensive framework for advancing women’s rights, the 1995 Beijing agreement was signed by 189 governments.

“We need Men to serve as Champions for Women Globally” UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on France24 news network With the conclusion of the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York at the United Nations Headquarters from 9 to 20 March 2015. Representatives of Member States , UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs)  from all regions of the world attend the session. UN Women noted that the main focus was reviewing the progress made so far in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action after 20 years of its adoption.

“The time has come for all men, women, children, communities, corporations and nations to rise and participate in ensuring that Gender Equality and Women Empowerment are fully realized – as a normal and expected way of life.” “The fight for Gender Equality is a universal fight.” said Lilian O. Ajayi, Founder and Executive Director Global Connections for Women Foundation (GC4W). Lilian Ajayi’s latest feature on Diplomatic Courier:  The Status of Women and Girls in Africa and the Rest of the World

Lilian Ajayi and Chief Temitope Ajayi at GC4W Awards
Lilian Ajayi and Chief Temitope Ajayi at GC4W International Women’s Day Awards

“Women are the engine of the private sector, women run the economy of any nation – because they are more into commerce then their male counterpart, the power of any currency is in their ability to meet the demand and supply.” Chief Temitope Ajayi (Mama Diaspora) in her address at the Annual Meeting of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund.

The session also addressed opportunities for achieving gender equality, the pertinent need for men’s participation and the empowerment of women in the post-2015 development agenda. Lastly, The Beijing+20 will also included the outcomes of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly, the first five-year assessment conducted after the adoption of the Platform for Action, which highlighted areas requiring further actions and progressive initiatives.

UN Women_GC4W CSW Recap

UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka Closing remarks as-delivered on 20 March 2015:

Let me thank the Bureau of the Commission,

Mme Chair Ms Kanda Vajrabhaya and your team

and the members of your Bureau:

Excellency Mr Ruben Zamora of El Salvador,

Ms Pille Kesler of Estonia,

Mr Mohamed El Bahi of the Sudan and

Ms Christine Low of Switzerland.

I thank you all for your tireless, collaborative efforts during this successful session of the Commission.  I thank the three facilitators for their skillful conduct of negotiations, and for their persistence, and all the delegates who worked alongside you.

I congratulate Member States, civil society and the UN system for a forceful, dynamic and forward-looking session; for frank and fruitful discussions on lessons learned and good practices exchanged; for acknowledging the remaining gaps and challenges; while recognizing that much more still needs to be done, by all stakeholders on the urgent issues that you have raised for our consideration.

We are all aware that there are no shortcuts to realizing gender equality, the empowerment of women and the human rights of women and girls.

Based on the road we have travelled, we know that there are more challenges ahead of us. We know we must continue to work, systematically and relentlessly, to bring about transformation in our families, societies, economies, and political and public spaces.

The fight for gender equality is politically and economically incomplete without human rights.

The inclusion of the voice of civil society will always be a strategic consideration. A diminished space for this voice in the world has a cost for us all.


I thank you for the Political Declaration, in which you strongly reaffirmed the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the role of civil society and set a target date to end gender inequality.

This will help us all in our common efforts to mobilize for accelerated implementation of the Platform for Action.

Crucially, the Political Declaration contains Ministers’ pledge to take further action to ensure the full, effective, and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.

These actions include:

  1. strengthened implementation of laws, policies, strategies
  2. strengthened and increased support for institutional mechanisms for gender equality
  3. transformation of discriminatory norms and gender stereotypes
  4. significantly increased investment for gender equality to close resource gaps
  5. strengthened accountability for the implementation of existing commitments; and
  6. enhanced capacity building, data collection, monitoring and evaluation

We all have to start working on these commitments immediately, and more intensely, so that in September we can hear about your “stepped up” commitments.  These must be building blocks to ending gender inequality as we implement the Sustainable Development Goals.

We will need to see solid, measurable progress by 2020, and make sure that 2030 is the expiry date for gender inequality. I will rely on all of you to make sure all our governments and broader society “step it up”.

I am also pleased that the Commission has taken steps to strengthen its working methods.  This will further enhance the impact of the Commission.

I thank you all for the high levels of participation by so many Ministers, senior Government officials and experts, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations.

I welcome the evidence of increased interactivity, and appreciate that many countries have responded positively to our call for inclusion of civil society in their delegations.

The session’s rich programme was complemented by nearly 200 side events and 400 further parallel events. This was an extraordinary exchange of views and information, and building of solidarity.  In the coming weeks and months all of us must maintain this momentum.

From this point onwards, I look to you all to support a strong a stand-alone goal on gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

The post-2015 development agenda has to put gender equality at the core of sustainable development, permeating every sphere of activity. This we must continue to support.

In addition, we must ensure that the Financing for Development Conference is a game-changer for financing gender equality. The ministerial round table and panel discussion on resources underlined the systemic under resourcing and under funding of gender equality work, while Cyclone Pam forcefully underlined the urgency of agreements on disaster risk reduction and on climate change.   We must strengthen the leadership and participation of women in all climate related endeavours, and in the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 in the spirit and in the letter of the Council’s intentions.

The 167 national reviews must now be the basis for governments to press ahead to close the gaps.

Civil society must take full advantage of our third global Call for Proposals for the Fund for Gender Equality to enable further ground-breaking programmes.

At regional level, as the panel agreed, implementation now needs to build on the strong basis created during the regional reviews. I would like to give a special word of thanks for these reviews to the colleagues from the UN system, and especially the five regional commissions.


Change is coming. Change has to come.

We have to focus on dismantling patriarchy, not just reforming it, or trying to find a way for women to thrive within it.

The discussions of these last two weeks have made it crystal clear that the gaps and the issues are both structural and psychological.  There can be no real progress in changing the world for women unless we change both. We have to change all of society: men, women, rural or urban communities, traditional communities, young people and children.

When we change the laws and the customary practices, as well as the attitudes and beliefs that shape behaviours, we will have a world in which to thrive. Our hard work will pay off.

The countdown to 2030 begins now.

Let us go now and run the last mile.

Let us aim to end gender inequality before 2030.

This is a necessity for the sustainable development goals to succeed.

Thank you.

Learn more on www.unwomen.org