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The Commission on the Status of Women

NIWEP is a body in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN (ECOSOC). NIWEP can therefore make submissions to UN processes, of which CSW is the most important for gender equality. A key role for NIWEP is representing women in Northern Ireland within the CSW process. This includes making written statements and participating in the annual event either remotely or directly. NIWEP is also developing capacity building on CSW to strengthen capacity in Northern Ireland to participate in the process. 

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is an intergovernmental body of the UN, set up in 1946 to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women. Following the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, the role of CSW was expanded to include monitoring progress on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. Since 2015, CSW also contributes to promoting the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

UN Women provides the secretariat to CSW.

Role of governments

CSW operates through an annual two week session, when governments of UN member states meet at UN Headquarters in New York to review progress on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the SDGs. Each session has one priority theme and one review theme, drawn from the ‘critical concerns’ in the Beijing Platform for Action. Every five years, CSW focuses on reviewing the Beijing Platform for Action in its entirety. CSW64 in March 2020 was to be such a review, but the session was cancelled in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The main role of governments is to negotiate Agreed Conclusions for each session, which act as recommendations to set the UN agenda on gender equality. Agreed Conclusions are also intended to guide member states in national policy making. In addition, governments share good practice and evidence to a global audience including other governments,  UN bodies and entities, global leaders on gender equality and civil society, including international as well as national level organisations.

Role of civil society

Civil society from across the globe also participate in large numbers in CSW; the conference typically involves over 2,000 delegates and a very extensive programme of side events. The role of civil society is to share evidence and examples of good practice, and also to engage with governments to highlight key asks. A number of countries, including the UK, also engage with civil society during the negotiation of Agreed Conclusions.

 

Recent priority themes

Recent priority themes of CSW has included social protection, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure (CSW63, 2019); rural women (CSW 62, 2018), economic empowerment (CSW 61, 2017) and women’s empowerment and sustainable development (CSW 60, 2016). IN 2013, the theme was violence against women and girls, and NIWEP was sponsored by the Department of Justice to participate in CSW. A report was written following the event, which contributed evidence to the Domestic Violence Strategy.