CSW: Commission on the Status of Women

Topic A: Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War

The victims of modern armed conflict are far more likely to be civilians than soldiers. According to the United Nations Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, the vast majority of casualties in today’s wars are among civilians. Of those, most are women and children. Women in particular are the victims of systematic sexual violence through which political or military objectives are advanced. In conflict, sexual violence often aims to terrorize the population, break up families, destroy communities, and, in some instances, change the ethnic makeup of the next generation. It is also sometimes used to deliberately infect women with HIV or render women from the targeted community incapable of bearing children. The impacts of sexual violence persist even after a conflict ends — unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and social stigmatization. Widespread sexual violence itself may continue or even increase in the aftermath of conflict as a consequence of regional insecurity and legal impunity. Meeting the needs of survivors in the form of medical care, psychological support, economic assistance and legal redress requires innovative solutions to bridge the resource gap in post-conflict areas.

Topic B: The Role of Women in Industrial Workplaces in Developing Countries

Women make up about 27% of the global industrial workforce and 47% of the entire global workforce. The growth of the industrial sector since the 1980s has increased its workforce demand. This growth has led to the employment of more women in the sector, but trade liberalization has allowed the sector to become one of disposable, cheap labor. The garment and electronics industries, with a large proportion of production occurring in Asia, and Central and South America, exemplify this shift. Women working in industry in developing countries face disproportionately higher barriers to equal and respectable treatment in the workplace. They struggle to attain equal rights and pay, must fight for access to equitable standards of health and safety, and face limits in moving up the industrial business career ladder. Research shows that more women in the workplace often translates into economic growth, yet this trend has yet to pick up in practice in a number of regions. To sustain growth in an increasingly globalized economy, the industrial sector must adapt to off safe and viable employment for the women that provide the labor it demands. From women’s empowerment in the workplace to labor rights, trade and globalization, and broader issues of poverty and economic disenfranchisement, a dynamic range of problem-solving approaches will be required to equitably and fully bring women into this vital sector.

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