CSW68: Leveraging South-South Cooperation for Gender Equality

By March 13, 2024 March 18th, 2024 Gender News, News

“By fostering partnerships and exchanging knowledge, the Global South can create innovative frameworks and policies that promote gender equality and empower women,” said UNOSSC Director Dima Al-Khatib during a 68th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women side event focusing on ‘Leveraging South-South Cooperation for Gender Equality’. “South-South cooperation – rooted in collaboration and mutual support among countries in the Global South – can serve as an enabler.”

The side event was co-sponsored by Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), UNOSSC, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), South-South Cooperation Research and Policy Centre (Articulação Sul/ASUL), China International Development Research Network (CIDRN), and GenDev Centre for Research and Innovation (GenDev CRI).

Participants focused on why and how to leverage South-South and triangular cooperation to accelerate the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) and the Sustainable Development Goals toward achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls, particularly by examining current South-South and triangular cooperation practices and approaches from experience of women in the Global South.

“As we navigate the complex terrain of development with the Global South, it is imperative that we recognize the power of collaboration particularly through South-South and triangular cooperation to drive transformative change together,” said Kanta Singh, Deputy Representative of UN Women India.

“The South-South cooperation approach recognizes the unique challenges faced by women and girls and emphasizes the importance of shared experiences and solutions,” said Dima Al-Khatib. “There is a need for inclusive decision-making processes that amplify the voices of marginalized groups; and South-South cooperation can facilitate this by encouraging the exchange of best practices in areas such as education, healthcare, economic empowerment, and political representation.”

“It is always important for women to find who they can safely partner with,” Lord Mayor Rohey Malick Lowe of Banjul, The Gambia, reminded participants, emphasizing, “in fact, UNOSSC was Banjul’s partner during its COVID-19 pandemic response, providing healthcare training for women and youth with the South-South support of China, as well as over 10,000 masks.”

“As we forge ahead with South-South and triangular cooperation, let us critically examine our current practices,” said Kanta Singh. “Are women adequately represented in decision-making bodies? Are their voices amplified? Are resources channeled effectively? We must listen to the experiences of women entrepreneurs, grassroots leaders, and change-makers. Their insights will guide us toward more inclusive and impactful South-South and triangular cooperation models.”

Laura Trajber Waisbich, of the University of Oxford, agreed, emphasizing that moving beyond global discussions toward South-South sharing of what is succeeding at the local level is essential. “To achieve gender equality we need more focus on the grassroots level,” she said.

“As South-South cooperation practice evolves into its next phase and engages various actors beyond the state, more than ever, women’s leadership and active participation, including that of women’s rights and feminist organizations, at all levels and in all stages of the South-South cooperation practices, are key to achieve the gender equality and sustainable development goals, and to address the persistent and new challenges such as women’s land rights, peace and security, and digital technology,” said moderator Cai Yiping of DAWN, China.

Other speakers included: Diana Castro, Latinoamérica Sustentable, Ecuador; Govind Kelkar, GenDev CRI, India; Li Yingtao, Beijing Foreign Studies University, China; Annita Montoute, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago; and Zhang Chuanhong, China Agricultural University, China.

“Gender equality is woven into the fabric of the South-South Cooperation Trust Funds and Programmes managed by UNOSSC, exemplified by results achieved in improving women’s economic, social and political leadership and participation; education and skills training for girls; and mainstreaming gender in programme design and results management,” said Xiaojun Grace Wang, UNOSSC Trust Fund Director, in her concluding remarks. “We must remind ourselves that gender equality is not just an aspiration, it should be an achievable reality, demanding all our collaborative efforts across countries, institutions, and individuals in the spirit of equal partnership.”

Over 150 feminist scholars, women’s human rights activists, policymakers, and development practitioners participated in the event.