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India Gets Elected To UN Commission On Status Of Women 2021-2025. Will Indian Women Benefit?

Posted: September 18, 2020

India won a seat in the Commission on the Status of Women in the UN for a 4 year term 2021-2025, for the Asia-Pacific region. Will this help bring Indian women’s issues to the forefront?

While India’s membership in the Commission on the Status of Women marks its influence in terms of women’s development in Asia, what will we bring to the table as a member? What will Indian decisions mean for women’s issues in the Eastern world? Read further to find out.

On Monday, India became one of two new members of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Alongside Afghanistan, India will now contribute for a term of four years starting 2021. In line with the goals of the commission, one can expect developments in woman-centric policy-making and developmental programmes.

Why is this significant for women in India? What does this mean for us? How did India get here? What was the process? Let’s take a quick look to understand.

What is the UN Commission on the Status of Women?

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is a UN body responsible for promoting the status of women and gender equality world-wide. A part of the Economic Social Council (ECOSOC) the body has produced numerous conventions, studies and programs aimed at integrating women’s issues into world development in general.

The election process

The CSW held an election for 2 members this Monday. The CSW features various regional categories out of which India has been elected in to the ‘Asia-Pacific’ category.

The ECOSOC has 54 members, all of who were voters in the Monday election. India secured 38 votes closely following Afghanistan with 39 votes. China with 27 votes could not reach the minimum requirement of 28 votes (halfway mark).

While Afghanistan marked the importance of this win to the country’s PeaceTalks, for India the win marks superiority in terms of Women’s development in comparison to China. The victory comes in the midst of a several-months long border tension between the two countries.

What is the significance of India’s win?

Historic presence

However, Indian involvement dates back to 1946, in the first session of the Commission in the Status of Women where an Indian delegate- Shareefah Hamid Ali found her place even before India became an independent republic.

Regional representation

One of the UN’s central goals has remained equitable representation from all continents. In line with this, regional verticals were appointed within the CSW to address issues specific to areas. India has found its place among the member states in the Asia-Pacific category.

In the current election, India finds itself in the selected group of 11 nations from Asia.

Globally, the victory is a marker of the country’s progress among other Asian states. The election puts India in an influential position and could be path-breaking for women’s issues in this portion of the world. India will bring to the table a section of women’s issues specific to its location. India’s contributions will be significant because they will directly determine women’s concerns that may have taken a back seat otherwise.

What this means for women in India

UN Women, which is a dedicated organisation that works for woman empowerment, generates gender-related data for all countries. In terms of the workings of the commission, interventions may be based on the generated data while keeping the overall goals in focus.

Specific to India, the generated UN data includes the following-

Leadership and political involvement

~ India has recorded lesser number of women in ministerial positions, as members of the national parliament and political parties.

Economic position

~ While most Indian women in rural areas are agricultural workers, most of them do not own any land
~ the unpaid labour force in rural India
~ various issues related to land inheritance in rural India
~ Women have limited participation in the workforce in general
~ some UN case studies and policy paper are centred around women-centric banking policies.

Violence against women

~ As per the data, India records peaking numbers in the cases of cruelty against women within families, rape cases, cases of sexual harassment and dowry harassment.
~ UN case studies, policy papers have often concentrated on domestic violence legislation
~ Police helplines for women

Women in peace and security

UN data reveals a very minute count of women signatories to Peace Agreements from South Asia in general.

Dalit women and Muslim women

The resource library of UN Women opens up to policy research and case studies in relation to the position of Dalit women and Muslim women in central policies.

Goals India should look forward to

These are the issues specific to India that have been looked into by the UN. These have been covered across publications, case studies, reports, policy papers, position papers and general research.

However, through India’s four year term, the body will have annual goals that are pre-decided. Largely, starting 2021-25, the body will broadly focus on women’s political representation, locating women within climate change, economic empowerment and digital education.

While these remain the larger goals, India’s contributions may be in line with locating women of India or the Eastern countries within these issues. Within goals like digital education, where do women from lower classes and castes fit in? Are their experiences taken into consideration while formulating policies or plans?

As a member, India’s take and contributions will be determined by the position of its women within these concerns. As a result, decisions of the body will have an essence of Indian women’s experiences and dispositions.

Image source: pixabay and shutterstock

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A student of International Relations at Shiv Nadar University. Enjoys old bands and acrylics.

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