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55th CSW Considers Gender Equality and Sustainable Development

1 March 2011: The 55th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which is taking place from 22 February-4 March 2011, at UN Headquarters in New York, US, considered the need to secure sustainable development by ensuring that poor women are integrated into the green economy.

Presentations during an expert panel on 1 March 2011 focused on raising the profile of the women's agenda in the run-up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio 2012). Henrietta Elizabeth Thompson, Executive Coordinator of the UNCSD, noted that the Conference aimed to renew political commitment to sustainable development and evaluate and address the gaps in policy implementation. In that context, she stressed the need to identify the role of women in achieving sustainable development. She highlighted the finding of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that women are more likely to buy recycled and recyclable products and to pursue green opportunities. Thompson called on delegations to influence their governments to include gender-sensitive language in the commitment coming out of Rio.

Robert Freling, Executive Director of the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), stressed the importance of energy in empowering women and reducing poverty and as an "accelerator" to achieving all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He noted the shortcoming of the MDGs for not considering "energy poverty" as a development goal. He also noted that solar energy is a low-cost solution for poverty reduction in developing countries, that also provides the opportunity to reduce carbon-fuel dependent economies.

Monique Essed-Fernandes, Interim Executive Director, Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), stressed that it is impossible to achieve sustainable development anywhere unless the world is prepared to develop, protect and empower women everywhere. [UN Summary of CSW Panel]