Every year United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) holds a series of meetings about the recent topics, developments and prospects for gender equality in a sustainable world. This year it was the 62nd year of these meetings. And it is recognised as CSW62.
Every year since 2011, which was the first year of my Presidency in KAGIDER, KAGIDER makes a presentation of the best practice project of the year. This year’s project was together with Danone regarding a study initiated by Gamze Çuhadaroglu of Danone. The project is based on the premise that when mothers are working, their kids will be healthier and happier. The children of working mothers will have better chances choices in their lives in terms of their education potential to their career availabilities and selection. Additionally, Danone leads the campaign for businesses to establish a breast-feeding room in their respective work places.
This year the CSW62 meetings were held during March 12 and 23. In the earlier years the meetings were held around 8 of March making it not impossible to attend country meetings during the women’s day celebrations. This year it was scheduled with a fair distance to March 8 making travelling schedules easier.
The theme of CSW62 was “Empowering Rural Women and Girls”. The concept of “Rural Women” was covered in article 8 th of the W20 Communiqué of Istanbul, the first ever Communique of W20 issued in 2015 during the G20 Presidency of Turkey, where I was the Chair of W20. I had a special feeling about rural woman from the hearth, as they represent the core division of labour between men and women since the farming era had stated. But, during 2015, we neither had the time nor the space or opportunity to draw the deserved focus to the topic of rural women.
This year G20 Presidency resides with Argentina and the Chair of W20 in 2018 is Susana Balbo, herself being a worldwide known wine producer and owner of wine yards in Argentina, among her other responsibilities. Andrea Grobocopatel is the co-chair of the W20 Argentina. She was in Davos and Susana was in New York, both keeping good track of the schedule they have declared during the take-over from W20 Germany as the time table for W20 this year.
W20 Chair Susana Balbo said that “rural women account for one-third of the world’s population and they are responsible for 50% of the world’s food production. But, even though the women who produce 50% of the food, they receive only 4% of the generated income. Further, 27% of women work in an agricultural activity. Also, women play a critical role in the sustainability of land as well as accommodating the social fabric and the family. If we can improve the status of rural women, we would be able to increase world production by 10 to 15%”. From the meeting in Davos we know that the W20 Argentina neither agrees nor accepts the calculation made by WEF, which was, 170 more years are needed to reach for parity. We all need to expediate it for a better and sustainable world.
Argentina is not yet – and hopefully will never be – a country with spoiled land with environmentally unfriendly chemical exposures and she is a world producer and leading distributor of many agricultural products.
Arancha González, the executive director of the International Trade Centre, was also a speaker on the W20 panel. She and her team are dedicated to promote international trade for women owned companies and minimize the serious gap that men and women have in trade with many noteworthy initiations which includes “she trades”. Arancha emphasised three main issues that affects the presence of women in the rural sphere: access to land, access to productive resources as well as lack of public services and the lack of required tools to deal with the climate change.
From W20 troika, Mona Küppers, the Chair of W20 Germany, shared her experience regarding the successful W20 she had administered for G20 during 2017, together with Juliane Rosin, the head of W20 German Organisation. Mona pointed out that W20 can strengthen, accelerate or promote measures and actions aimed at building more equitable, balanced and sustainable societies for all of the women in G20 society, when W20’s work will be aligned with the three strong pillars of focus, diversity and sustainability. She also suggested that we can be a powerful network and have chance to make a real impact on the G20 and hence, the world. W20 Germany not only issued a very precise W20 Communiqué in Berlin, but also had more than one-page citation of the W20 targets in the G20 Communiqué for the year of 2017.
The UN Women Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Luiza Carvalho, addressed rural issues affecting G20 countries and she posted out the importance of investing in rural women will help us serve that no one is left behind. She highlighted the cultural diversity that makes up the W20 group and gave statistics from Turkey to present the diversity of the G20 countries carry.
The surprise speaker of the panel was Francisca Aparicio. Francisca came from Argentina and she represented a leading organization in the developing proposals and solutions for the socio-environmental sustainability of the Gran Chaco region of Argentina. She elaborated on her own life and her initiation in organizing other women towards creating change in her environment. Even to be able to sell things to earn an income for their families was challenging because they neither understood what price to put on their products nor the related costs. She also gave examples from their experience including a series of trouble her fellow friend went through that involved domestic violence from the husband to resist the fact that they are gathering to discuss the change that they are hoping to bring to their village. She sounded not only as her own voice, but also as the voice of many women that live and work in the rural surroundings. Her experience resembled many of the facts many women pointed out during my tours of the cities in Anatolia. Francisca said that I have come a long way from organizing themselves and pricing their products, but they still need infrastructural investments in their region as they wish to stay and continue their life in their village. Her current demand includes investments to be made to her region to protect her follow villagers from natural disasters. I believe that she is right in demanding these investments.
We know from our part of the world that when you can’t deliver the required infrastructure and education needed in the respective rural areas, then unrest starts in that region and even, unfortunately, gradually, as the years go by leading on to wars. The solution lies in creating a safe environment to produce for the people in the rural areas, where they can efficiently produce and sell their products and reach out to the other markets to prevent new migration flows, or even wars, or simply to end poverty.
In the proceeding meeting that the W20 Argentina had held in New York under UN SCW62, there was another piece of good news for the W20 society. G20 works in troika in recapping of the history, as it is a platform rather than a legal entity. For continuity and progress, or simply, for sustainability – where it is mostly suggested that women are very keen about – the former country’s experience and efforts count very much. Further, it is already decided that the President of G20 in 2019 will be Japan. It is necessary that Japan is involved in the series meetings W20 Argentina has organized. It was a pleasure to see Kyoko Hokugo from Directorate of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. She has made a speech that assured us that she is quite aware of the process and the need to appoint at least one W20 representative or alternatively representatives as well as the protocol and procedure behind the process. This was a pending request since 2015. Now, I expect that it is going to be reality. This development represents an important step to complete the W20 team to go forward.