Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

Gender equality and empowerment are core principles of the SGI. We have been committed to empowerment which we believe at its essence is to fully unleash the boundless potential inherent in every human being. Our activities to foster women’s leadership is rooted in our belief that women have the power to guide humanity to peace.

Our engagement at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) has been in highlighting the importance of women’s leadership. Listed are past CSW events organized by SGI on this topic:

CSW58: “Moving Ahead from the MDGs: Highlighting Women’s Leadership” In 2014, UN Women was calling for a stand-alone goal on gender equality for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (then called the Post-2015 Development Agenda) which was then taking shape as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was drawing to a close. As this was our initial event on women’s leadership, we focused on learning and understanding from each other how we define leadership, what impact it can have, how we see women’s leadership and how that is played out. It was mentioned that women’s leadership is not gender specific but is a type of leadership that can be applied by anyone.

CSW59: “Living Women’s Leadership, Living Global Citizenship—Strengthening the Beijing Platform for Action” After the last CSW parallel event, several organizations expressed interest in following-up on the topic of women’s leadership which resulted in a series of conversations by a core group who met throughout the year. This eventually led to our decision to further expand on this topic at the Beijing +20 CSW, given that one of the Beijing Platform for Action’s 12 critical areas of concern includes “women in power and decision-making.” In his keynote speech, former Under-Secretary -General and High Representative of the United Nations Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury remarked that peace and development are two sides of the same coin and that without women, neither of them would be possible. Chief of UN Women’s Civil Society Section Lopa Banerjee commented on the leadership crisis we are currently facing globally and that what we need is transformative feminist leadership. Jean Krasno, lecturer of the Department of Political Science at the City College of New York talked about the activities around the “Campaign to Elect a Woman UN Secretary-General.”

CSW60: “Women’s Leadership Paving the Way to Achieving the SDGs” SGI led a collaborative effort with Soroptimist International, the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace, and the Baha’i International Community to organize this event. After speaker presentations which included ways for civil society to contribute to the intergovernmental processes at the UN to achieve the 2030 Agenda, the audience broke into four discussion groups, each with a different theme: People; Planet; Prosperity; Peace. The common thread which ran through all groups was the importance of education in increasing women’s leadership and participation, and in preparing women as leaders to implement the SDGs.

CSW61: “Inclusive & Transformative Leadership for Women’s Economic Empowerment” 

In the fourth year to address women’s leadership during the CSW, we decided to emphasis the need for inclusive and transformative leadership. A champion of gender equality and instrumental in the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, Ambassador Chowdhury passionately stated that “Any human endeavor that does not have women at its heart … will never be meaningful.” He pointed out that all people are leaders when they have personal commitment—collective action is not possible without self-determination as exemplified by a YWCA speaker. Diana Rusu of UN Women talked about her work with EmpowerWomen a platform for sharing stories of women leading change in all spheres of society. The audience echoed the sentiments mentioned earlier that transformative action has to come from the individual, which is what the culture of peace is about.

Young Women’s Leadership Project

Our new project: “Young Women’s Stories—Fostering Leadership” is currently underway. Through this endeavor, we seek to understand how young women’s personal development and transformations can help them gain confidence, empower themselves and others, and make a difference in their school, work, community or elsewhere. Stories will be posted on this site when available.

Committee We Work With

As part of the NGO community, we serve as an Executive Committee member of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, New York (NGO CSW/NY) and Co-chair the Young Professionals Subcommittee.

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Contact: Ivy Gabbert at ivy.gabbert@sgi-ouna.org