For the second day in a row, NGOs have been excluded from observing government negotiations on the Agreed Conclusions of the Commission on the Status of Women. Over 2,000 NGOs have come to New York from around the world to participate in the meeting.

This is a terrible precedent for the Commission, which would not exist in its current form, if not for years of women’s movement and advocacy at the UN. Countless UN agreements provide guiding principles for NGOs and governments to work together, such as the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, the Beijing Platform for action and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination on Women.

In 2000 governments came together and created the Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015 — but they made a major mistake doing it behind closed doors. It took until 2003 for civil society to join the campaign, and valuable time was lost.

Governments cannot achieve gender equality alone. As the ones implementing gender equality on the ground, NGOs should be considered experts and allies. The CSW is not the Security Council, this is a team effort, and if governments send a message of exclusion to civil society, their most valuable resource, the entire world will suffer.

NGOs have presented a letter to the bureau of the commission requesting that they be able to observe the meeting, and restating that they will follow observer protocols. But NGOs must keep the pressure on and get the word out about what is happening. Click here to download NGO letter to bureau chair