The power of engagement: gender, volunteerism and governance in the post-2015 development agenda

New York, USA: On 18 March 2014, a UNV side event to the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58) discussed findings and experiences on ways to ensure that women's participation in public life through volunteerism breaks barriers of gender stereotypes and ensures more sustainable and more equitable development outcomes as the post-2015 agenda takes shape.

The event was attended by more than 100 participants, including UN agencies, civil society organizations and numerous member states. The panel included Rosemary Kalapurakal, Deputy Executive Coordinator, UNV; H.E. Ms. Sophie Kalinde, Ambassador, Chair of the Malawi Human Rights Commission; Dan Seymour, Deputy Director of Programmes, UN Women; Sapreet Saluja, Deputy Chair of the World Board of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS); Catherine Nixon, Community Health Worker and Mobilizer in Nepal, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO). Mtisunge Kachingwe, Volunteer for women's health projects in Malawi, World YWCA, and Karen Scheuerer, Youth and Volunteerism Specialist, Peace Corps, gave statements from the floor.

UNV Deputy Executive Coordinator chairs UNV side event at CSW58 on gender, volunteerism and governance in post-2015Ms Kalapurakal, UNV Deputy Executive Coordinator, introduced the event starting from the theme of CSW58: challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls.

The debate focused around two key questions: what is needed to ensure that volunteerism as a form of civic engagement is recognized as a legitimate pathway to address development challenges in the post-2015 agenda, and how can countries ensure that more women - especially young women and girls – are able to take leadership responsibilities and have an impact on development outcomes.

A lively discussion involved several participants, including Hon. Dr Notarine Sangare, the Minister of Gender of Burkina Faso. The event concluded with agreement on the fact that governance is based on accountability and accountability only grows through commitment to the common cause. Volunteerism engages people in addressing development challenges from the bottom up. The new post-2015 sustainable development framework will only honour its name if it includes mechanisms providing pathways for women and men to proactively engage in planning and implementation in a shared and complementary effort with all other stakeholders. The degree to which people are able to engage in voluntary action is therefore an indicator of effective local governance. Member States shaping the new development framework should ensure that all resources and partnerships are leveraged and recognized and the added value of volunteering is acknowledged.

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