Winifred Doherty speaks on Commission on Status of Women

The 59th session of the Commission on Status of Women (CSW) will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from March 9-20, 2015, during National Women’s Month. CSW is the principal global intergovernmental body that is dedicated exclusively to promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The main focus of the Commission this year is on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, including current challenges that affect its implementation and the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women. The Commission on Status of Women will have a review and celebratory aspect remembering that the fourth World Conference on Women took place in Beijing in 1995. The Declaration and 12 Platforms for Action was the outcome document of Beijing.

There have been many improvements for girls and women in the past 20 years but the ending of all violence against all girls and women is an uphill struggle.

Girls and young women continue to be trafficked and sexually assaulted, and women human rights defenders are continually under threat. There are some interesting campaigns currently taking place to help us combat these issues:


  • The 25th day of each month is Orange Day to create global awareness for ending violence against girls and women. Last year, during the 16-day campaign from November 25 through December 10, there was a push to “orange your neighborhood.” The Empire State Building and Egyptian pyramids were lit in orange.
  • More recently, the HeForShe campaign was launched with the realization that change may happen more substantially if men are engaged in the project of ending violence against women.


Political declaration from Commission on Status of Women

A political declaration from the Commission will reinforce continued implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, together with the actualization of a new set of sustainable goals to be adopted in September 2015 to replace the Millennium Development Goals.

March 8 is International Women’s Day with the theme “Equality for women is progress for all.” This theme emphasizes how gender equality, empowerment of women, women’s full enjoyment of human rights and the eradication of poverty are essential to economic and social development. There is also an emphasis on the vital role of women as agents of development.

For more information about the programs mentioned here, please visit the following websites:

How you can help girls


  • Wear orange on the 25th day of each month and talk with others about the issue of violence against women and girls. Share what is being done in your community.
  • Participate in International Women’s Day on March 8. Have a party to celebrate women!
  • Join in the HeForShe campaign as Sisters and Mission Partners.
  • Engage in the two weeks of the Commission on the Status of Women, which is called Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity. Picture it!
  • Read the US Government report on Beijing and ask yourself if this report is accurate from the experience of your ministry.


You can read updates from CSW59 at my Justice and Peace blog at

Winifred Doherty

Winifred Doherty

Sister Winifred Doherty spent 16 years in Ethiopia, empowering girls and women through education, economic activities and community development programs, providing alternatives to prostitution and lessening vulnerability to being trafficked. Since 2008 she has been based in New York, serving the Congregation at the United Nations, where she engages with other NGOs and UN agencies in addressing policy issues related to poverty, gender inequalities and violence against women and girls, hallmarks of the Beijing Platform for Action.