Highlights of the 2014 Meeting on Commission on the Status of Women
Mahnaz Afkhami

Photos | Transcript


Washington, DCOn March 31, 2014, Mahnaz Afkhami, president and founder of Women’s Learning Partnership, briefed WFPG on the 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which was held in New York earlier this month. This year’s meeting focused on the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls. In addition to providing a quick overview of how the CSW came to be, Afkhami also touched on obstacles faced during the session, as well as the importance of factoring women’s experiences into global development issues. The program was moderated by WFPG President Patricia Ellis.

Afkhami stated that one major challenge for the CSW this year was not losing the ground gained during the Beijing conference in 1995. In Beijing, the Commission was able to take a progressive stance toward women’s issues; however, Afkhami and fellow attendee Sharon Kotok noted that today “we have to run to stay in place.” Due to the current political and economic climate, as well as a rise in regional violence and religious extremism, there has been a noticeable pullback in interest from member states—specifically when it comes to reproductive rights, and egalitarian spousal relationships.

Looking toward the future, Afkhami discussed CSW plans for the post-2015 to 2030 development agenda. She mentioned that the most pressing issues will be incorporating women into the peacemaking/peacebuilding process and the creation of effective and inclusive institutions, but also to continue efforts to end violence against women. She also emphasized that to achieve female empowerment, governments must first improve local infrastructure to increase women’s access to proper medical care. Moreover, they must promote the importance of female representation in technology training, because technology is an important link that connects grassroots advocates worldwide.

Despite everything, Afkhami expressed a positive outlook and emphasized the importance of supporting today’s young leaders: “we see their power, their innovations, their aspirations and it’s going to be quite a different world…I think the world is going to be a much better place than we fear.”


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Mahnaz Afkhami of the Women's Learning
Partnership addresses the WFPG


Patricia Ellis, Mahnaz Afkhami,
Ambassador Al-Mughairy, and Board Members
Theresa Loar and Diana Villiers Negroponte

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WFPG President Patricia Ellis welcomes guests


Ambassador Hunaina Sultan Al-Mughairy of Oman

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Sharon Kotok, a public delegate of the US's Delegation
to the 58th Commission on the Status of Women


Shelby Quast of Equality Now during the Q&A session

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Mahnaz Afkhami, Ambassador Al-Mughairy,
and Diana Negroponte


Ambassador Mabel Gómez-Oliver, DCM of Mexico

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Catherine Harrington of the Women's Learning Partnership