Interview Sanne van de Voort – The New Dutch NGO Representative to the CSW!

First of all, congratulations with this new position!

Yes thanks a lot! Really excited to have this opportunity to be the new Dutch NGO Representative to the CSW!  

Could you please introduce yourself to those that don’t know you? 

My name is Sanne van de Voort. I work for Women Engage for a Common Future. We are an international ecofeminist network, working on promoting gender equality in sustainable development and climate action. And my role in our organization, is doing a lot of our advocacy work, internationally and nationally as well.  

To start from the beginning, what is the Commission on the Status of Women? 

The Commission is the main body working on promoting gender equality, women’s rights and the empowerment of women internationally and it falls under the United Nations. So the Commission meets annually at the UN headquarters in New York to discuss progress on achieving gender equality, women’s rights and the empowerment of women. It’s an intergovernmental body, which means that governments meet at the UN and discuss the progress, but also civil society and NGO’s play a big role in this, so they are also part of these annual meetings at the UN. Every year the CSW focusses on a priority theme and it reviews another theme that has been worked on over the last years.  

What will your specific role be as the Dutch NGO Representative?  

I will be part of the Dutch governmental delegation that attends the CSW. Meaning that I will be joining the preparatory meetings of the Dutch government in finalising priorities for the Dutch government towards the CSW and I do that not on behalf of myself or WECf, but on behalf of all of civil society working on this process in the Netherlands. So there is also a really close collaboration between civil society as a whole in the Netherlands working on this process.  

So the focus of this year’s CSW is “Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes,” why is this so important? 

The climate crisis, –  and related crises as well when it comes to environment and biodiversity, – is one of the biggest crises that we face as humanity as a whole, in this moment. What we see is that, climate change, biodiversity loss – all related factors – exacerbate existing inequalities. So inequalities that already exist, for example gender inequality, are made worse by the effects of climate change.  

If we truly want to fight climate change and environmental degradation, we need to make sure that everyone’s solutions, everyone’s perspectives, everyone’s recommendations are part of the solutions. And that is something that at the moment is not the case. When it comes to the decisions that are being taken in terms of climate, women for example are underrepresented, other marginalized groups are underrepresented and that is what we need to change. It is a great opportunity that this year the CSW also focusses on this theme, because then the connections between gender inequalities and the need for integrating gender in our climate solutions is high on the agenda. We need to use this momentum to also make progress as the international community.  

What are your hopes for CSW66?  

That is very closely connected to what I just mentioned. I think there is right now a great momentum for increasing our ambitions for climate action. What we saw at the last climate summit; new ambitions have been agreed on, but also, not enough is being done. Agreements have been made to increase the ambitions in the next year for governments from around the world, so every government in the world needs to strengthen their commitments and strengthen their policies. So that is what is at stake now in the next year. This CSW gives us the chance to push among our governments to make sure that gender equality becomes a part of the solutions we come up with. 

Photo: Annabelle Avril / WECF