Dispatch from the UN: A Slow Day for Women’s Rights

By Karen Chater, special correspondent for the New Yorker

Sitting through the council session watching delegates exercise strategic unmuting makes it disappointingly apparent that just about nothing is going to happen unless the conversation hastens its pace and we see more substantive steps forward.

The jousting lane this time is workplace gender inequality at the United Nations Commision on the Status of Women (UNCSW). Unfortunately, it seems our beloved CSW certainly won’t change anybody’s minds about the old stereotype of UN councils lazily dragging their feet. 

Workplace inequality is tough to tackle because of how difficult it is to measure – you can count rows and rows of statistics about the pay gap, or check how many mothers fail to get maternity leave, but that doesn’t quite capture the full picture of what women face, does it? 

Certainly, skipping past a good few hours of impassioned debate (well, as impassioned as you get over video calls), it’s clear that the basic principles everyone’s fighting for are the same – we should help each other promote gender equality, equal pay, fight misogynistic attitudes, the whole bunch of it. But it was strikingly clear that the less convenient conversation — how exactly countries should get down and dirty to promote these ideals — was not being held. 

Perhaps it’s not surprising that the world isn’t ready for the hard conversations that’ll need to be had before we can fix gender inequality. However, it would really help to have global powers who have a clue on what they’re doing. 

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