Commission on the Status of Women

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Overview

About the Commission

The Commission on the Status of Women (hereafter referred to as “CSW” or “the Commission”) is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It is the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. Every year, representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and women's empowerment worldwide.

The Commission was established by ECOSOC resolution 11(II) of 21 June 1946 with the aim to prepare recommendations and reports to the Council on promoting women's rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields. The Commission also makes recommendations to the Council on urgent problems requiring immediate attention in the field of women's rights. 

Click here to learn more about the Commission’s history.

Next CSW session

Fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women
(tentative date:
10-21 March 2014)



Recent CSW session

Fifty-seventh session of the Commission on the Status of Women
(4-15 March 2013)

 

Mandate

The Commission's mandate was expanded in 1987 by ECOSOC resolution 1987/22 to include the functions of promoting the objectives of equality, development and peace, monitoring the implementation of measures for the advancement of women, and reviewing and appraising progress made at the national, subregional, regional  and global levels. Following the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, the General Assembly mandated the Commission to integrate into its programme a follow-up process to the Conference, regularly reviewing the critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action and to develop its catalytic role in mainstreaming a gender perspective in United Nations activities.

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) again modified the Commission's terms of reference in 1996, in its resolution 1996/6, deciding that the Commission should:
(a) Assist the Council in monitoring, reviewing and appraising progress achieved and problems encountered in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action at all levels, and should advise the Council thereon;
(b) Continue to ensure support for mainstreaming a gender perspective in United Nations activities and develop further its catalytic role in that regard in other areas;
(c) Identify issues where United Nations system-wide coordination needed to be improved in order to assist the Council in its coordination function;
(d) Identify emerging issues, trends and new approaches to issues affecting the situation of women or equality between women and men that required consideration and make substantive recommendations thereon;
(e) Maintain and enhance public awareness and support for the implementation of the Platform for Action.

Membership and composition

Forty-five Member States of the United Nations serve as members of the Commission at any one time. The Commission consists of one representative from each of the 45 Member States elected by the Council on the basis of equitable geographical distribution: thirteen members from Africa; eleven from Asia; nine from Latin America and Caribbean; eight from Western Europe and other States and four from Eastern Europe. Members are elected for a period of four years.

Click here to download the list of current members of the Commission.

Annual sessions

The Commission meets annually for a period of 10 working days (late February-early March) at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The Bureau

The Bureau of the Commission plays a crucial role in facilitating the preparation for, and in ensuring the successful outcome of the annual sessions of the Commission. Bureau members serve for two years. In 2002, in order to improve its work and ensure continuity, the Commission decided to hold the first meeting of its subsequent session, immediately following the closure of the regular session, for the sole purpose of electing the new Chairperson and other members of the Bureau (Council resolution 46/101).

Click here to view the composition of the current Bureau.

Click here to view the composition of previous Bureaux.

Output of the Commission

The principal output of the Commission on the Status of Women is the agreed conclusions on priority themes set for each year. Agreed conclusions contain an assessment of progress, as well as of gaps and challenges. In particular, they contain a set of concrete recommendations for action by Governments, intergovernmental bodies and other institutions, civil society actors and other relevant stakeholders, to be implemented at the international, national, regional and local level.

In addition to the agreed conclusions, the Commission also adopts a number of resolutions on a range of issues, including the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women; and women, the girl child and HIV and AIDS.

The annual report of the Commission is submitted to the Economic and Social Council for adoption.

Role of the Secretariat

UN Women is responsible for providing substantive support to the Commission in all aspects of its work, including to its Bureau.  UN Women is also responsible for facilitating the participation of civil society representatives in the Commission’s annual session, as well as for the coordination of parallel events held at the United Nations during the sessions.