Ivy Koek (right) of SGI and Pamela Morgan (left) of Zonta International, the new Co-chairs of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, New York (NGO CSW/NY).

25th November 2023

NGO CSW/NY New Leadership and Launch of Working Group on Peace and Gender Equality

  • Gender equality & women's empowerment

In July 2023, Ivy Koek of SGI and Pamela Morgan of Zonta International started their two-year term as Co-Chairs of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, New York (NGO CSW/NY). The 10-member Executive Committee embarked on new initiatives including building and strengthening alliances and collaborations with other NGO coalitions; developing a five-year strategic plan; creating an NGO CSW Hub; and establishing five working groups (WG).

The initial NGO CSW/NY monthly meeting for the new Executive Committee held in September focused on the working group “Peace and Gender Equality.” Koek moderated a discussion with Phoebe Donnelly, Senior Fellow and Head of Women, Peace, and Security at the International Peace Institute, and Eloisa Romani, Project Coordinator for the Strategic Concept for the Removal or Arms and Proliferation (SCRAP) Project, who shared their gender analyses of the Secretary General’s New Agenda for Peace. Donnelly was pleased to see the document included language around dismantling “the patriarchy and oppressive power structures that stand in the way of gender equality,” though she shared her disappointment that it gave no specific recommendation for how to address this. Romani commented on the failure of National Action Plans to affirm the relationship between peace, disarmament and the advancement of the status of women, girls, and marginalized communities, given that “adopting disarmament measures is crucial to challenging the patriarchal culture of weapons possession.”

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo, a Cameroon feminist peace activist and President of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), concluded the program by sharing her thoughts on the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Summit that took place at UN Headquarters on 18–19 September 2023.

Participants of a side event held during the Women Deliver conference in Kigali, Rwanda.

In an effort to bring peace and security discussions as they relate to women and girls to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, NGO CSW/NY created the new Working Group on Peace and Gender Equality. Co-chaired by Koek and Rahel Beigel of the Women’s Refugee Commission, the WG officially launched on 19 July at a side event in the UN Foundation Nest Hub, held during the Women Deliver conference in Kigali. The event, co-sponsored by NGO CSW/NY, UN Foundation, Women's Refugee Commission, the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, SGI and Red Dot Foundation, included a fireside chat with three feminist peace activists from Cameroon, Liberia and Syria sharing their experiences and perspectives from the field. A group discussion followed, addressing action points for advocacy and ways forward for the WG. One of the points raised in the event report states, “The working group should connect/align with other peacebuilding thematic areas and be more holistic—[for] example, connecting with [the] climate movement. Make the approach more intersectional in the mapping.”

Rally for Peace participants.

As one of the WG’s initiatives, NGO CSW/NY held its first peace rally to mark the 23rd anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325. Held on 25 October 2023, the Rally for Peace took place at the Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza, down the street from where the UN Security Council Annual Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security was being held. Over 70 attendees made various calls for peace. Ndongmo said, “No action for peace is small. No matter how small it is, it’s truly valuable. Let’s celebrate the anniversary through actions. When you show a sign of kindness, this is already peace.” WILPF was one of 10 organizations and committees who co-sponsored the rally, including the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO).