New York, NY – Starting today and running through March 25, 2022, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will hold its 66th session at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York. The CSW is an intergovernmental body of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations responsible for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The priority theme of the session is “Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programs”.

Prior to the CSW session, Sarah Costa, Executive Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission, made the following statement:

“This year’s CSW priority theme on tackling the climate crisis couldn’t be more timely. The climate crisis, in addition to being a driver of displacement, can both contribute to the conflicts that cause displacement and exacerbate existing displacement. Land degradation, desertification and rising sea levels are having a devastating impact, such as the sinking of low-lying island states like the Maldives and the Marshall Islands, which could lead to statelessness of entire populations. Discriminatory laws, such as gender discrimination in nationality laws, increase the risk of becoming stateless. The climate crisis may also increase factors such as poverty which are likely to increase negative copying strategies, such as child marriage.

“Women environmental human rights defenders, especially indigenous and refugee women, are leading the movement for climate justice, but face challenges reprisals for their work and remain largely excluded from both climate decision-making and financial resources.

“It is essential that world leaders do not lose sight of and genuinely address the human rights situation of displaced women and girls everywhere, including in AfghanistanEthiopia, BurmaSouth Sudan, and Yemen. At a time when the world watches in horror, once again, how one man’s cruel ambitions for power are causing suffering and displacement to millions of people, this time in Ukraine, efforts to champion gender equality must go beyond the CSW and ministerial declarations. The worldwide support for women and children fleeing Ukraine is deeply encouraging and we hope this will continue once the media coverage fades. We must, however, remember that everyone has the right to seek safety and be free from violence, regardless of race, sex, religion, origin or other factors. Discrimination, including racism, can be deadly in refugee responses, and we need solidarity and the universal implementation of human rights for all.