Written by NHK World

On April 4th, as the debate in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) began, many states came forward to share their ideas on the proper approach to eliminate gender inequalities.

From the start, there were clear general ideas about how to go about implementing change. These ideas were quotas to get women into power, access to education and health care and putting successful women in the spotlight. While there was some overlap in these areas, most member states focused more heavily on promoting one of these ideas into their speeches in several moderated debates.

There was a small representation of states who advocated for the use of quotas. During a moderated debate, the delegation from Colombia spoke on their success with the implementation of quotas, and how they now have many women in positions of leadership and power.

However, even within this topic there was still opposition on where to draw the line with quotas.

Countries such as Ireland believe “quotas work for candacies only”, and “women do not have to [step] in to run.” Similarly the delegations from Guatemala and Iran echoed similar statements that quotas can work in certain situations, but the delegation from Iran declared “reserved seats” as “undemocratic.”

The majority of states, such as Turkmenistan, went in a different direction and shared their  belief that access to healthcare and education is the most important issue to address. Other states such as Brazil, Guatemala, Korea, Mongolia, Namibia and Qatar echoed these sentiments in moderated debate.

The delegation of Qatar stated in a speech that “quotas are a band-aid to the much greater problem” and “education is the greatest barrier to women’s representation.” In addition, the delegation from Guatemala voiced their concern that for countries with “limited resources” that a huge issue is the “access to health care and sexual safety”. This statement was also echoed by other, smaller developing nations.

Another idea brought forth in moderated debate was the implementation of campaigns, blogs and similar platforms to bring the successes of women to a larger audience in order to inspire and empower other girls. This was a proposition heavily supported by Mongolia, who suggested a blog or a talk show on this topic might be helpful.

Brazil and Colombia also stood behind the implementation of greater awareness of women in power. Brazil stated, “The best way to empower women is to allow them to see other women who have broken through into powerful roles in government”, a statement echoed by Colombia who hopes to see indigenous women and women in rural areas inspired by fellow women in power, as well as use some of the other devices above to gain access to these positions of power.