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UN Women launches South African Civil Society Advisory Group

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PRETORIA, South-Africa, February 12, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- This week UN Women's South Africa Multi-Country Office officially launched its Civil Society Advisory Group (Advisory Group), which will use its expertise to advise UN Women on its work in South Africa. The formation of the group is testament to the important role civil society plays in the campaign to achieve gender equality.

The 11-member committee — a group of 9 women and 2 men – is comprised of members from non-governmental organizations, academia, research institutions and the private sector. Members will share their experiences and support UN Women in developing strategies to improve advocacy for gender equality and women's empowerment in South Africa.

“This Advisory Group will be an important consultative body in regard to our programmes and work in South Africa,” said Dr Auxilia Ponga, UN Women Representative, South Africa Multi-Country Office.

“The launch is particularly timely with awareness of the gender equality movement currently gaining momentum ahead of the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women next month,” highlighted Dr Ponga.

The 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 9 to 20 March 2015. Representatives of the Government of South Africa and accredited South African non-governmental organizations will be attending the session.

The main focus of the session will be the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 20 years after its adoption. Despite the commitments made, the Platform's envisioned gender equality in all dimensions of life is still an unfinished agenda. Member States, including South Africa, have submitted National Reviews ahead of the session that highlight achievements to date as well as remaining gaps and challenges and how they plan to accelerate implementation.

Following the launch of UN Women's South African Civil Society Advisory Group this week, the Advisory Group and UN Women held a consultation with a broader group of representatives from gender-focused South African civil society organisations. This session was designed to ensure a range of voices are being heard and multiple organisations were given the opportunity to provide input. The National Review submitted by South Africa ahead of the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women was one of the topics discussed at the meeting, including how the issue of violence against women remains a critical area of concern.