H.E. Ms. Mathu Joyini, Chair of the 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women and Permanent Representative of South Africa, opens the session at UN Headquarters in New York. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown.

Women’s leadership in climate response and recovery at the centre of the UN Commission on the Status of Women​

Taking the stage at the opening of the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality, UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous highlighted CSW66 as a critical moment for commitments to actions as it takes place amidst crises, conflict and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“The interlocking crises we face today continue to compound each other’s impacts as threat multipliers,” said Ms. Bahous. “But women are the solution multipliers.”

This year’s Commission on the Status of Women is taking place from 14-25 March, in a hybrid virtual and in-person format. This year’s discussions centre around the theme “Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes”.

UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous addresses the 66th session of the Commission of the Status of Women on 14 March, in New York. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown.

Executive Director Sima Bahous went on to emphasize the importance of setting out Agreed Conclusions from the session which will put the global community on track to achieve sustainability and equality.

“This Commission’s Agreed Conclusions can set out a path for global resilience and recovery. This path must be guided by the Sustainable Development Goals; and be underpinned by gender equality and a commitment to multilateralism, diplomacy, peace and justice,” she said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasized the importance of charting a path forward that recognises the critical intersections of gender inequality and the climate crises and its impacts, and ensures women’s leadership in decision-making.

“We are still living with the results of millennia of patriarchy that excludes women and prevents their voices from being heard. We cannot realize any of our goals without the contributions of all. And this is why everyone, including men and boys should be working for women’s rights and gender equality. ,” said Secretary General Guterres. “The Paris agreement is essential to the rights of women and girls. Addressing biodiversity loss land degradation and pollution are vital to creating lives of dignity for all, and a healthy planets. But we will not get there without women’s full and equal participation and leadership.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 66th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women on 14 March. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown.

Echoing the importance of women’s voices and experience at the heart of solutions, youth representative and a Leader of the Generation Equality Action Coalition for Feminist Action for Climate Justice, Joanita Babirye, called attention to the need to leave no one behind in commitments to action on climate change, especially marginalized and Indigenous communities who rely on the environment for their livelihoods.

“In many ways, these negotiations act as a mirror of the world, helping us to see the power imbalances that are driving gender inequalities,” said Babirye. “Once we see these imbalances, we can build strategies that dismantle them. We need to take collective action because, as we all know, there is no gender justice without climate justice.”

The Opening Session also saw the election of Her Excellency Antje Leendertse of Germany, Mr. Maris Burbergs of Latvia and Ms. Song Hye Ryoung of the Republic of Korea as Vice-Chairs of the Commission.


  • Commission on the Status of Women
  • Executive Director

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