Islamic Relief has once more participated in one of the world’s largest conferences dedicated to improving life for women across the world.

Staff from Islamic Relief have attended the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). CSW promotes gender equality and female empowerment, and it meets annually to discuss progress and identify priorities for the future.

The theme of CSW2015 was Beijing+20, examining the commitments set out 20 years ago by governments in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. In 1995, nearly 50,000 people came together to contribute to what became a detailed blueprint for female empowerment across the world. Twelve critical areas of concern were identified and are still used today. They include topics such as women and the media, the girl child and violence against women.

Shaping the Sustainable Development Goals

We joined more than 2,000 organisations including global faith-based NGO Christian Aid and The Orchid Project, which works in countries including Indonesia, Iran and Iraq to end Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, and participated in discussions alongside individuals such as Dr Fadila Grine, Director of Family Affairs at the Department of Cultural, Social and Family Issues with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and Anne-Christine Eriksson, Deputy Director of the UNCHR’s UN liaison office.

In a year when hundreds of organisations are contributing to the design of the future Sustainable Development Goals, which will give direction to development strategies of the future, an assessment of the Beijing concerns was critical. It followed last year’s discussion on the progress made through the Millennium Development Goals.

Prioritising gender justice

Attending CSW 2015

Attending CSW 2015

This year, states reaffirmed their commitment to the unmet elements of Beijing +20, acknowledging progress had been made in the past 20 years but that the journey toward gender justice has moved too slowly. Civil society, which has been instrumental in promoting female empowerment, joined their voices with states to emphasise the importance of prioritising gender justice – highlighting the importance of working not only with women and girls but also with men and boys – in the Sustainable Development Goals.

Islamic Relief’s Senior Policy Advisor on Post 2015, Helen Stawski, also noted the importance of our team’s attendance at the event.

She said: “The event was also a chance for Islamic Relief staff to talk to others about some of the work we’re doing to improve gender justice through our programmes. We were able to talk to World Food Programme representatives, for example, about our gender policy and our shared commitment to supporting rural women, and to speak with other faith inspired humanitarian and development organisations in a meeting hosted by UNFPA to discuss faith perspectives on gender justice Post 2015.”

At last year’s 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58), we took part in side events that explored faith approaches to issues including gender based violence and maternal health, and education for women and girls.

Islamic Relief works to improve gender justice through its programmes, policy and advocacy work. We will be supporting our India office to host a conference on best practices to address gender based violence in New Delhi on the 1-2 April.