By Tara Liddy, Charles Darwin University
The United Nations Headquarters was closed on day two of the 61st Commission on the Status of Women due to inclement weather. With the postponement of official meetings for one day, many side and parallel events were cancelled all together. Disappointing as this was, we took the opportunity to take a “snow day” and check out Central Park in all its wintery goodness.
We then returned to official proceedings on Wednesday 15th March, meeting with Grace Hill, Fundraising & Programs Coordinator at UN Women National Committee Australia. Grace provided a comprehensive overview of the work that UN Women Australia do in terms of fundraising and program implementation and management and highlighted the objectives of UN Women globally and in Australia.
Shortly following this meeting I attended a session entitled, “A journey to strengthen cooperation between the international and regional human rights mechanisms on women's rights,” hosted by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights & the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women with the participation of representatives of regional mechanisms on women's rights. Key learning’s from this session included the lack of ‘synergy’ between regional and global approaches to addressing human rights standards and the contradictory messages that are being conveyed by member states due to this fragmentation. Interesting questions were asked by women from the Congo in regard to tools that can be provided by the United Nations to civil society to ensure that assaults on human rights are mitigated.
The second session that I attended was hosted by Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the NSW Council of Social Service, entitled, “National action on Indigenous women's economic empowerment (Australia, Canada and New Zealand Perspectives)”. The moderator for this event was our very own Senator, the Hon. Michaelia Cash, and included Australian Indigenous panellists Keira Jenkins and LiAnne Wilson. Both Keira and Leann provided real-life insight into both the challenges and achievements of Indigenous Australians while calling for greater national and international Indigenous representation and government accountability. All panelists agreed that the need to improve societal outcomes is imperative in the pursuit of a life of independence and choice for our nations’ First Peoples.
Later that evening, the delegation attended the daily Australian CSO briefing before wrapping up for the day. All in all, the day brought further insight into the work of the United Nations (and in particular, UN Women and UN Women Australia) and the ways in which member states can improve outcomes by promoting greater adherence to International human rights standards.