Ensuring a strong EU voice at UN Commissions on Gender and Population

Each year in March, representatives of UN Member States, civil society organizations and UN entities gather for the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the principal global intergovernmental body to promote gender equality.

Countdown 2030 Europe played a vital role as part of the official national delegations by successfully inputting messaging and key recommendations into the EU’s position on SRH/FP. These interventions will have a huge impact on future strategies and national positions, which will shape global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in an increasingly challenging environment. The aim of the CSW is to document the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shape the global goals around these, ensuring that no one is left behind.

Discussions focused on progress made, and gaps as emerging issues affecting gender equality and the empowerment of women came to light. Preventing the undermining or watering down of the EU joint position was a key part of Countdown 2030 Europe members’ work, and despite protestations from Hungary, Poland, and Malta, we were successful.

In spite of deepening political resistance, from both within and outside of Europe, the EU held its support and position throughout in promoting the critical linkages between SRH/FP and gender equality. These efforts were reflected in the EU’s voice and position at CSW, and the strong speeches given by the EU and C2030E countries after the adoption of the resolution. 

Shortly after in April, UN Member States gathered in New York for the annual session of the UN Commission on Population and Development (CPD) to monitor the implementation of the Programme of Action adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994.

Every year there is a different theme to guide negotiations, and this year’s theme was “Changing population age structures and sustainable development”. Countdown 2030 Europe supported like-minded governments to stand firm in defending the critical contribution of SRH/FP to achieving sustainable development, and avoided the weakening of existing SRH/FP commitments after the zero draft of the CPD was shared.

Countdown 2030 Europe’s presence at CPD was also critical in terms of coordinating with their governments and like-minded delegations, as well as civil society from other regions to ensure a strong inclusion of SRH/FP in the final chair’s text. The process can be quite protracted and negotiations can be tense. As a result, the SRH/FP-related paragraph led to a split between the Member States as Poland did not agree with the standing (2015) EU consensus on the topic. Opposition from a small group of conservative governments, including the US, meant that despite best efforts, the final chair’s text was not agreed upon and the CPD closed without an outcome. However, the session showed a broad and growing support for SRH/FP in the context of sustainable development. Countdown 2030 Europe will therefore continue to call on governments for active participation in order to seek consensus at future CPDs. Women and girls are counting on it.