What is “CSW”?

The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, also referred to as “CSW” or “the Commission,” is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The principal purpose of this global policy-making body is to further the work towards gender equality and advancement of women.

Each year, the Commission prepares and presents recommendations and reports for ECOSOC in order to promote women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields. In addition, the Commission sometimes makes recommendations to ECOSOC on urgent problems requiring immediate attention in the field of women’s rights.

In addition, the Commission has been responsible for organizing and following up on the many world conferences about women including: Mexico (1975), Copenhagen (1980), Nairobi (1985) and Beijing (1995). Over the past ten years, the Commission has systematically reviewed progress in the implementation of the twelve critical areas of concern identified in the Beijing Platform for Action and, through its annually adopted Agreed Conclusions, has put forward action-oriented recommendations to facilitate increased implementation at all levels.

Click here for a further short history of the Commission on the Status of Women, prepared by the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women.

Who participates?

Government representatives attend each year from the “Member States” of the United Nations. They meet at UN headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide.

However, governments are not the only ones who attend! Women and men from around the world attend this meeting to hold their governments accountable and to work to influence decisions. In fact, faith-based communities have attended the CSW since its inception in 1946. Today, we work to present a strong faith based presence that advocates for specific recommendations to be included in the outcome of the Agreed Conclusions.

What happens or how does it work?

The principal outcome of the Commission is the so-called Agreed Conclusions, a document whose topic is the priority theme for that year. Agreed Conclusions contain an analysis of the priority theme and put forward a set of specific recommendations – for Governments, intergovernmental bodies and other institutions, civil society actors, and other relevant stakeholders – to be implemented at the international, national, regional and local level. The final report – usually an agreed upon text of the Agreed Conclusions – is submitted to the ECOSOC for adoption.

Civil society attends the commission in order to influence the outcome of these conclusions. In 2008, we successfully input language regarding “structural adjustment programs” as well as making recommendations for strengthened gender mechanisms for the United Nations system-wide coherence process.

What has Ecumenical Women done?

As noted above, Ecumenical Women most frequently makes recommendations and advocates for certain language to be included in the Agreed Conclusions.  Since its formation in 2000, Ecumenical Women has been an active coalition working for change at CSW. You can read about some of our past work by clicking here.