Mary Ellsberg, director of the George Washington University’s Global Women’s Institute, was one of six representatives chosen by the Department of State to attend the 57th session of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) as a public delegate. The CSW sessions began March 4 and will run through March 15 at U.N. headquarters in New York.
The theme of this year’s session is the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.
“The U.S. delegation is very committed to a strong resolution coming out of the CSW meeting that underscores the links between intimate partner violence and reproductive health and rights,” Dr. Ellsberg said.
She said the meeting will call attention to violence against women and girls as a critical human rights and development issue. And the resolution the U.S. delegation hopes to advance emphasizes the prevention of violence, changing social norms that promote violence and increasing research and evaluation for programs that work.
This year’s commission meeting comes just after Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act. The legislation funds grant programs that help local law enforcement officers in identifying and prosecuting domestic abuse and sexual violence, as well as programs that assist victims. The new bill will also create new programs to raise awareness about violence against women on college campuses.
GW’s Global Women’s Institute is partnering with U.S. government agencies to strengthen the evidence that supports the Violence Against Women Act as well as the United States’ strategy to end violence against women globally.
Every year, government representatives of member states gather at U.N. headquarters to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and women's empowerment worldwide.
The CSW is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It is the principal global policymaking body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. The commission also makes recommendations to the council on urgent problems requiring immediate attention in the field of women's rights.
The CSW delegation is led by Ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, who serves as head of the delegation; Ambassador Elizabeth Cousens, U.S. representative on the U.N. Economic and Social Council; and Sharon Wiener, acting ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues at the U.S. Department of State.
Other government representatives for the U.S. delegation include technical experts from the Department of State, the United States Mission to the United Nations, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of Agriculture, as well as a senior official from the White House.
The other five public delegates to the meeting are Rosie Hidalgo, director of public policy for Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities; Neil Irvin, executive director of Men Can Stop Rape; Nancy Mahon, senior vice president for philanthropy and social initiatives for the Estee Lauder Companies; Kiersten Stewart, director of public policy and advocacy for Futures Without Violence; and David Thomas, program administrator for domestic violence education at Johns Hopkins University.