The 67th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) was held from March 6-17 at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. This meeting was the long-awaited face-to-face global women’s summit that had been postponed for three years due to COVID-19 prevention measures. This year’s CSW67 registered a large number of participants, with over 7,000 attendees, including four heads of state and government, 116 ministers, 205 offsite events held by the United Nations, and approximately 700 non-governmental organizations participating in parallel forums.
Although the United Nations is not friendly to Taiwan due to pressure from China, Taiwanese women’s rights groups and non-profit organizations that support gender equality and women’s empowerment have not passively resisted but have courageously taken action and actively participated in the conference as NGOs. In total, Taiwanese NGOs organized 17 physical meetings and 15 online meetings. About 60 representatives from Taiwan traveled to attend the physical meetings of CSW67 in New York.
Especially with the support of the Women’s Empowerment and Development Foundation, along with the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office in New York, during the CSW67 summit, Taiwan not only showcased its many years of efforts in gender equality and the impressive achievements of women’s participation in public affairs but also highlighted the contributions and achievements of Taiwanese women in the field of technology through two large-scale events hosted by TECO in New York: “Taiwan Night – Celebrating Women in Tech” and “Taiwan Main Stage”. These events echoed this year’s CSW67 theme – “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality” – emphasizing the importance of gender equality in the digital, innovative, and technological era.
The International Network for Liberal Women (INLW) has established its Asia Pacific regional headquarters, the Asia Pacific Liberal Women’s Association (APLW ), in Taiwan. Despite being founded just a few years ago, it has actively participated in the activities of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW). Following the two online parallel forums on “Gender Equality” and “Climate Justice” held last year during CSW66, it has joined forces with STUF United Fund Inc. (U.S.-based foundation ) to co-host a forum entitled “Leave No One Behind: Overcoming the Gender Inequality in the Digital Age” in collaboration with the International Network for Liberal Women, the Foundation for Women’s Rights Promotion and Development , and the Taiwanese Association of America. The forum was held on March 6 at 6:15-8:00 pm (New York time). The speakers included Vivi Lin ( from Taiwan), the founder of the menstrual-themed youth women’s movement pioneer “With Red” and the “Red House Menstrual Museum” , Lisa Lin (from Boston), a Doctor of Nursing Practice candidate at Simmons University, Anna Tung (from California), co-founder of the International Academy of Biomedical Innovation Technology, and Yale Huang (from New York City), a director of STUF United Fund Inc. Josephine Wu Vuylsteke , the Vice President/Asia Pacific of INLW, served as the forum’s moderator.
As mentioned by the Ambassador-at-large Maysing Yang, the Chairperson of the Asia Pacific Liberal Women’s Association (APLW), at the beginning of the forum, women should not be discriminated against or treated differently in the digital era, regardless of age or gender. It is even more intolerable to accept cyberbullying, especially unfair treatment towards women or vulnerable groups. In the digital era, we must truly overcome gender inequality. She also hopes that through the platform of CSW, APLW can serve as a bridge for communication between international women’s groups. By promoting the shared value of gender equality and “He for She,” Taiwanese women can participate in more international affairs and allow women from different cultural backgrounds around the world to experience the diversity and vitality of Taiwanese women!
Jayanthi Devi Balaguru, the president of the International Network for Liberal Women (INLW) and a lawyer from Malaysia, has visited Taiwan several times in the past and witnessed numerous outstanding achievements in Taiwan’s women’s empowerment process, especially the high proportion of women engaging in political work, which can be said to surpass other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. She also recognized Taiwan’s election of its first female president as a remarkable democratic milestone. Taiwanese women can excel in various fields and innovate in new patterns. As a Malaysian, she greatly respects Taiwan’s efforts and achievements in gender equality.
During the CSW67 conference on March 11th, while many of the Board members of the International Network for Liberal Women (INLW) were gathered in New York, the organization held a board meeting and general meeting. The current president, Jayanthi Devi Balaguru, not only outlined future plans for the organization, but the board also officially appointed vice presidents responsible for various regions. Josephine Wu Vuylsteke was appointed as the new Vice President for the Asia Pacific region. Josephine worked as professional broadcaster over three decades in Taiwan before becoming a full-time advocate for women’s participation in civil society. Josephine and her spouse Richard R. Vuylsteke (former president of the East-West Center in Hawaii from 2017-2022, and CEO of AmCham Taipei and Hong Kong) are based in Hawaii since 2017 and are actively involved in public affairs, international relations, as well as art, cultural and academic exchange. Additionally, INLW also appointed Maysing Yang who was standing down as vice president Asia of INLW to appoint her as Honorary Consultant in the Consultative Committee where she will continue to advice and contribute to women’s empowerment as she has done for many years, in particular for INLW for decades.
Around the world, more and more stock exchanges are showcasing their support for women’s rights and gender equality by holding bell-ringing ceremonies. During the International Women’s Day celebrations in New York this year, Anita Bhatia, the Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, was invited to participate in the bell-ringing ceremony at the NASDAQ. In addition, the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) have released the 2023 edition of the “Women in Politics Map,” which shows data on women’s political representation worldwide. As of January 1st, 2023, the new data shows that women’s voices and experiences are still underrepresented. Less than a quarter of cabinet ministers globally are women, primarily in gender equality and women’s rights-related policy areas, while men still dominate in powerful investment portfolios such as the economy, defense, and energy. Furthermore, women only hold 11.3% of the highest political leadership positions globally, as heads of state, and 9.8% as heads of government. The new data also reveals that women’s representation in parliaments worldwide has risen to 26.5%, up from 25.5% in 2021.
At the closing ceremony of CSW67 on March 17th, Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, revealed in her closing remarks that this year’s Commission on the Status of Women has established an important milestone: We have jointly formulated a global normative framework on gender equality, technology, and innovation, which will shape the lives of women and girls around the world. Our vision of equality is that we can all share the benefits of technology and innovation equally without fear of violence or any form of abuse. Women and girls must be able to participate, create, learn, and work safely and effectively, online or offline, and make full use of all opportunities in all areas of life, education, economy, society, and politics. As we all leave this session, let us turn our collective determination toward the real lives of all women and girls, and work together to change the game rules to create a cornerstone to establish a more equal and interconnected world for women and girls. Josephine Wu Vuylsteke(report)
- The United Nations has 45 member states serving as members of the committee at any time. The committee is composed of one representative from each of the 45 member states selected by the Economic and Social Council on the basis of equitable geographical distribution:
- 13 members are from Africa.
- 11 are from Asia.
- 9 are from Latin America and the Caribbean.
- 8 are from Western Europe and other countries.
- 4 are from Eastern Europe.
- Members serve for a term of four years.
- As of now, the United Nations does not recognize Taiwan, Kosovo, and Vatican City as sovereign states.