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Houry Geudelekian


NGO CSW, Chair | USA

Houry Geudelekian was the previous Gender Program Coordinator at NGO Committee on the Status of Women, NY and the UN Coordinator of Unchained at Last working to end child marriage in US. She recently ended her term as Co-Chair of the Working Group on Girls and Co-Chair of NYC4 CEDAW. In her capacity as UN Coordinator for Armenian Relief Society (2011-2016), Geudelekian served as the Executive Committee member of NGO CSW NY, CoChaired NGO CSW Forum Planning Committee, MC’d two Consultation Days and chaired the Women of Distinction Award for CSW57/58. Houry Geudelekian acknowledged the advancements that have taken place since the Beijing 1995. Geudelekain talked about the programs of the NGO CSW. She underlined the importance of the collaboration that is needed to establish gender equality globally.

I am the girl who needed so much to have a voice because I was married off at an early age, which deprived me from my education. I am not sharing my expertise here as an advocate of women`s empowerment, but the embodiment of who we should be fighting for.

I would like to discuss the NGO CSW and what we have been doing with generation equality in 20202. We all live the reality that COVID-19 changed our lives. The work of NGO CSW was also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We were organizing our largest gathering in New York, last March 2020, as part of our mandate for the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Under normal circumstances, NGO CSW would bring voices of women and girls globally to the headquarters at the United Nations.

For the March 2020 event, over twenty thousand women had signed up to be present in New York. The organizers dimmed it as the Second Coming of Beijing Platform for Action, to mark the Beijing +25. The NGO CSW had planned five hundred and fifty panel discussions during the CSW. The organizers had come up with an elaborate good plan to have a grand silver jubilee celebration, were it not for that silent enemy called COVID-19. Was this COVID-19 pandemic a surprise to humanity? There were signs in the world to show that the human person was acting irresponsibly and it would not take long before a tragedy took place. The irresponsible actions are interconnected with the current pandemic taking place. If humanity does not respond to climate change, well, there might be similar tragedies in the upcoming years.

People are now blindly buying into the patriarchy, new type of colonialism, and global capitalism. The world needs everyone`s dedication, the experts to advise and the rest to forge a unified collaboration. Women, girls and our allies, our men and boys, who are on board in this fight for better gender relations. All must keep going by doing what all know to be the best, by giving voices to women and girls. CSW was planning to organize what they call the Generation Equality Forum, spearheaded by UN women in partnerships with France and Mexico.

We are open, striving for ideas and collaborations on how we can move the needle. We have been fighting for centuries, and at least for the last twentyfive years to specifically implement Beijing Platform for Action. I think that document is the strongest document that we have had for gender equality. The problem is that we never knew how to hold our governments accountable for the implementation. There are so many landmark documents at the UN right now. And if we really adhere to their agreements, we would not be in this situation. Imagine if we had global health coverage.

Imagine if we had truly the direct connection to what climate change is and how it has really affected us all. We would all be in a better position. We truly have to see how we can make a difference. We need to work on modeling a shared leadership for humanity. This is what we want to do as women and girls and how we are leading our platform going forward. Our next CSW65 is upcoming in March 2021.

CSW65 has its online engagement at its official website During the pandemic, it is not practical to bring twenty thousand people to New York. However, if all the twenty thousand can join the discussions online, the better it will be for CSW, despite the well-known challenges of everyone not having an access to an advance technology. We are working with grass root organizations where they can bring local women and girls around a table under a tent if they have to and share their laptops so that they would have an access to the same information of what it is that we are doing globally to speak up.

As a girl of 14 years old, married off at that tender age, one can only say that coming to New York helped nurture myself. However, this situation should be combatted as child marriages do not transform societies. When a girl cannot access good quality education, her voice is taken away, as well as the community’s force and strength. Do not give up on humanity by giving up on women and girls. The inspirational late Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”12 All present and those across the globe who fight for women’s rights must model the leadership and achieve gender equality together.