The 65th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65), the UN's largest gathering on gender equality and women’s empowerment, is taking place from the March 15-26.

Its theme this year is: "Women’s full and effective participation and decision making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls."

It is vital that the action plan in advancing recommendations on women’s peace and security is implemented by the end of the session, and the organisation I am representing is Gender, Peace & Security.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 - on women, peace, and security - builds on the Beijing declaration and platform for action, and calls for women's participation in conflict prevention, conflict resolution, peace keeping and peace building.

The CSW meeting builds on previous commitments at international and regional levels - in particular the Beijing declaration and a number of sustainable development goals.

The Covid pandemic has impacted women disproportionately, from the loss of jobs to rising of violence against women. "Building back better" from Covid19 needs women and girls at the centre leading and making decisions that address inequalities and achieve equal power sharing, therefore achieving gender equality in leadership and decision making.

Gender quotas in legislatures and other sectors, zero tolerance to violence, special measures that enable women to enter politics, and dedicated funding to women’s organisations have proven to be catalytic in bringing change.

It is equally important to develop policies focussing on how to ensure that gender lens is well integrated in responses, recovery and preventive efforts after Covid-19.

When social and cultural norms continually reinforce perceptions that men make better leaders than women, it takes all of us to combat these harmful stereotypes. Power must be shared equally, made visible and accurate at all levels and that’s what’s at the core of feminist leadership and equal participation. It takes all to work together to accelerate gender equality.

To make change, power must be made visible and accountable at all levels, ultimately tackling the roots of oppressive structures and social norms that hold back the progress of women and girls, as we face the unprecedented challenges of our time.

As of Friday, CSW65 had agreed to underline the importance of full and equal participation of women at all stages of decision making related to peace and security.

It noted that women's participation is likely to increase the durability and quality of peace, and that women's participation is essential in making progress towards the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

The number of women participating in peace processes as negotiators and mediators remains low, but has increased because of advocacy by women's organisations.

The commission expressed concern for the impact of armed conflict on women and girls, and the increasing threats against women engaged in peace processes, including sexual violence. It recognised the need to strengthen the protection of women and girls in armed conflict.

  • Swadeka Ahsun is from Belsize Park and represents Gender, Peace & Security.