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), dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. It is the principal global policy-making body. 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 advancement of women 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.
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, to include, inter alia, identifying emerging issues, trends and new approaches to issues affecting equality between women and men.
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.
The Commission meets annually for a period of 10 working days (late February-early March). The fifty-fourth session of the Commission took place on 1-12 March 2010.
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).
The current Bureau for the 55th session comprises the following members:
- H.E. Mr. Garen Nazarian (Armenia) of the Eastern European Group of States, Chair
- Ms. Leysa Sow (Senegal) of the African Group, Vice Chair
- Mr. Filippo Cinti (Italy) of the Western European and other States Group, Vice Chair
- Mr. Tetsuya Kimura (Japan), of the Asian States Group, Vice Chair
- Ms. María Luz Melon (Argentina) of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, Vice Chair
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 analysis of the priority theme of concern and a set of concrete 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.
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/AIDS.
The final report of the Commission is submitted to the Economic and Social Council for adoption.
Role of the Secretariat
UN Women is responsible for substantive servicing of the Commission, including through supporting the work of the CSW 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 Commission’s sessions.