Our Associate Shirley Randell was one of four speakers at the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations headquarters (CSW 61) in New York. The theme of this year’s gathering was Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work. CSW was established in 1946 with a mandate to promote women’s rights in the political, economic, civil, social and educational fields. It is also tasked with monitoring, reviewing and appraising progress achieved in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Shirley discussed progress and impediments to women and girls’ empowerment. The meetings provide both the grassroots perspective of women and girls’ issues, as well as high-level policy discussions. NGOs have been influential in shaping the current global policy framework on women’s empowerment and gender equality and continue to play an important role in holding international and national leaders accountable for the commitments they have made.

The agreed conclusions from CSW61 highlight barriers that women face, such as unequal working conditions, women’s over-representation in the informal economy, gender stereotypes and social norms that reinforce women’s concentration in certain sectors, and the uneven share of unpaid care work that women do. Despite the long-standing existence of international labour standards on equal pay, the gender pay gap, which currently stands at 23 per cent globally, persists in all countries.

Member states committed to the implementation of equal pay policies through social dialogue, collective bargaining, job evaluations and gender pay audits, among other measures. They affirmed ensuring women’s full and equal participation and leadership in the economy, as well as women’s right to work and rights at work, as vital steps to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs). At Equality in Tourism we hope they stand by their fine words.