United Nations Commission
on the Status of Women (ECOSOC)
★★⭐︎ – Intermediate
Topic A: Addressing Violence against women: The Elimination of female genital mutilation
In a world where power and choice are determined by gender, millions of girls are robbed of their childhoods, education, health, and aspirations every day by the harmful practices of female genital mutilation (FGM).
Even though the UN has defined the goal to end FGM by 2030, the pandemic has been increasing the practice recently. In 2021, 4.6 million girls and women around the world are at risk of genital mutilation. Without action, by 2030 we could see as many as 2 million FGM cases in around 90 countries that could otherwise have been avoided. FGM is mostly carried out on girls under the age of 15 and can cause severe mental and physical health damages.
Though no religious scripts prescribe the practice, practitioners often believe the practice has religious support. FGM is also deeply rooted in social conventions and cultural traditions and is often carried out in the belief that it will increase a girls’ marriageability or ensure premarital virginity. That is why it often goes hand in hand with early child marriage.
Changing social norms that sustain harmful practices such as FGM does not only entail enacting laws to protect women from FGM but also enforcing these laws, tackle the community and family pressure and finding alternatives for practitioners to solve their financial challenges. Efforts to attend to the needs of women and girls who suffer from the consequences of FGM are needed as well as more sexual education.
The Commission on the Status of Women – the UN organ for promotion of Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women – meets in Dresden this year to initiate coordinated and systematic programs for eliminating FGM.
Topic B: Targeting Gender Equality: Creating a path to paid care work
From cooking and cleaning, to fetching water or taking care of children and the elderly, women carry out at least two and a half times more unpaid domestic and care work than men. As a result, they are less able to engage in (high quality) paid labor, escape poverty, be financially independent and accumulate savings, assets, or retirement income for their later years. It also means less time for schooling, training and political participation.
Women’s unpaid work is essential for the social and economic stability of societies as it is valued to be 10 to 39 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Yet it was until very recently not considered an ‘economic activity’, nor counted as part of the GDP.
Gender inequality in the division of unpaid care work is an issue regardless of region or income level, but the severity of the disparity differs.
The unequal distribution of unpaid care work has increased during the pandemic, further constraining women’s access to employment and impacting physical and mental health stressors.
The Challenge to recognize and redistribute unpaid care work has many possible solutions such as enforcing policies that provide services, social protection, and basic infrastructure, promote sharing of domestic and care work between men and women, and create more paid jobs in the care economy. Another approach would be to change the concept of care in law to a”right to care”, like Uruguay did in its “Care Act”.
It is up to the elbMUN Commission on the Status of Women in Dresden 2022 to debate and decide in which way gender equality can be accomplished.