UN Report

United Nations Report: APA Sponsors Program at the 53rd Commission on the Status of Women

A central theme for the 53rd session was “The Equal Sharing of Responsibilities between Men and Women, including Caregiving in the Context of HIV/AIDS.”

By Neal S. Rubin, PhD

The fifty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was held at United Nations Headquarters in New York from March 2–13, this year. Established in 1946 as the principal body to promote equal rights for women, the CSW creates standards for achieving gender equality and monitors progress on the advancement of women’s rights worldwide. The CSW functions under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN setting global policy for Member States in areas such as the civil, educational, social, economic and political lives of women across the globe.

A central theme for the 53rd session was “The Equal Sharing of Responsibilities between Men and Women, including Caregiving in the Context of HIV/AIDS.” During the activities of the Commission, global policies emerged via advocacy, dialogue and negotiation in venues including expert panels, daily briefings, caucuses, receptions and approximately 250 side events. United Nations staff, representatives of Member States and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) representing civil society together addressed both traditional issues of inequality (access to education, human security) and critical, emerging 21st century concerns HIV/AIDS, world financial crisis). The goals of the CSW are to set policy, monitor implementation by members of the General Assembly and integrate gender informed perspectives at all levels of the United Nations.

The American Psychological Association and its NGO representatives implemented activities to promote gender equality by inserting psychologically informed perspectives into the dialogue at the CSW. At this year’s Commission, the APA sponsored a program, “Valuing the Caregiver: the Emotional and Physical Stress of Caregiving: HIV/AIDS.” Deanna Chitayat, PhD, an APA/UN Representative, moderated the event which presented the work of a doctor, a caregiver and two psychologists who work with AIDS patients in Africa, India, Mexico and the US. Evidence of the psychological and physical manifestations of the extremely stressful impact of caregiving responsibilities was demonstrated. Discussion focused on experiences in the field and proposals for best practices in caring for the caregiver in diverse cultural contexts.

Florence Denmark, PhD, the APA’s Main Representative to the UN, chairs the NGO Committee on Ageing which also sponsored an event at the CSW, “The Impact of HIV/AIDS Care giving on Girls and Older Women.” This panel brought together experts with experience from China, Zambia, Tanzania, France and the US to articulate a life cycle perspective on the roles of girls and women who bear a disproportionate responsibility for care giving in the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Whether the focus is on mothers who are caring for those ill or dying, orphaned children caring for younger siblings or grandparents raising grandchildren, the challenges of care giving for families and communities span the life course. The panel outlined these issues cross nationally and offered culturally sensitive recommendations informed by the stresses on girls and older women.

Additional information can be found on the Commission on the Status of Women website.Ψ