What is the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW?)

Each year in the month of March, the NGO and nonprofit communities busy themselves preparing for a trip to New York City.  They travel from as far as Africa, Australia, Asia, Central and South America, Europe and various parts of North America.  All roads lead to New York City for two weeks in March; this year the assembly started last week and will continue through this week.  They travel to New York to attend one of the largest women’s conferences in the world; the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).  This year marks the 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

The Commission on the Status of Women convened for the first time in February 1947 in Lake Success, New York.  This was not long after the founding of the United Nations.  The fifteen government representatives attending that first conference were all women.  Here are the 15 original members of the CSW:

Jessie Mary Grey Street from Australia

Evdokia Uralova of the Soviet Socialist Republic

Way Sung New of the People’s Republic of China

Graciela Morales F. de Echeverria of Costa Rica

Bodil Begtrup of Denmark

Marie Helene Lefaucheux of France

Sara Basterrechea Ramirez of Guatemala

Shareefah Hamid Ali of India

Amalia C de Castillo Ledon of Mexico

Alice Kandalft Cosma of Syria

Mihri Pektas of Turkey

Elizavieta Alekseevna Popova of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Mary Sutherland of United Kingdom

Dorothy Kenyon of the United States

Isabel de Urdaneta of Venezuela

The Commission was supported by a unit of the United Nations from the inception of it.  It later became the Division of the Advancement of Women (DAW) in the United Nations Secretariat.  Later, the CSW established close relationships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  Those NGOs that were in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) were invited to participate in the conference as observers.  Consultative Status, depending on the level, gives the organizations a number of rights to participate in the work of the United Nations, to present their views and deliver testimony.

The following description is how Wikipedia explains the various types of consultative status with the CSW.

General Consultative Status (formerly Consultative Status 1), the highest level, which may be granted to organizations that are concerned with most of the activities of the Council, that are making substantive and sustained contributions in many fields, with a considerable membership, and that are broadly representative of major segments of society in a large number of countries. These organizations are entitled to deliver oral presentations during the Council’s meetings.

Special Consultative Status (formerly Consultative Status 2), which may be granted to organizations concerned with only a few of the fields of activity covered by the Council

Roster, which are “other organizations that do not have general or special consultative status but that the Council, or the Secretary-General of the United Nations in consultation with the Council or its Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, considers can make occasional and useful contributions to the work of the Council.”

According to a report from UN Women, since the codification of the legal rights of women needed to be supported by data and analysis, the Commission began a global assessment to determine the status of women.  After extensive research, a detailed country by country report of women’s political and legal standing became a basis for drafting human rights instruments.  Between 1947 and 1962, the CSW focused on setting standards and formulating international conventions to change discriminatory legislation and foster global awareness of women’s issues.  The Commission celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1972 by recommending that 1975 be named International Women’s Year.  The recommendation was endorsed by the General Assembly to help bring focus to the equality of women.

The Third World Conference on Women was held in Nairobi in 1987, and the Commission took the lead, bringing violence against women to the forefront.  On December 20th in 1993, the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Now in 2018, approximately more than 500 organizations are represented at the CSW at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.  This year’s theme is the empowerment of rural women and girls, a compelling one.  For 62 plus years organized women have been advocating against injustices and violence against them.  It is now 2018, and women still have to prove when they are sexually assaulted; they still have to prove when they are the victims of domestic violence; and they find themselves still trying to have state laws passed against female genital mutilation (FGM) in the United States.  How long will women be the gender that has to prove violation against them?  Will it take another 62 years?  Will a woman’s work ever be done?

Comments and questions to info@globalwomanpeacefoundation.org or call (703) 818-3787