What is the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)?
The Commission on the Status of Women is the largest annual gathering on women’s rights worldwide. This year, nearly 10,000 advocates will join UN Member States in New York from March 11 to 22 to chart a path forward for gender equality.
At the conclusion of CSW, Member States commit to increase progress on women’s rights. The “agreed conclusions” that they negotiate then influence negotiations in other UN spaces and contribute to developing global standards on women’s rights.
CSW is an important platform for civil society and brings together a powerful network of policymakers and advocates from the LGBTQI, sexual and reproductive health and rights, disability rights, indigenous rights, environmental, and youth-led movements. Together, they address challenges and identify opportunities to advance women’s rights and strengthen an intersectional feminist movement that fights for the rights of all.
Why is the CSW important?
The current political climate, which has seen a rise in authoritarianism and shrinking space for civil society, makes CSW more important than ever. CSW sets norms and standards for women’s rights and serves as a critical space to take the temperature of political support for gender equality. As the largest annual gathering on women’s rights, CSW is the venue for advocates to push their governments to defend and promote women’s human rights.
This year’s theme—“social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls”—is key for achieving gender equality and for advancing the Sustainable Development Goals. The way these systems—public health, transportation, energy, and more—are designed can either alleviate or exacerbate gender inequalities. At CSW, global advocates have the opportunity to directly lobby their governments and make the case for centering women’s rights in the design of these services.
What role does the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) play at CSW?
Under this year’s theme, IWHC is focused specifically on ensuring that universal health coverage includes the comprehensive spectrum of sexual and reproductive health services, that women and girls have access to quality and affordable water and sanitation, and the closure of coverage gaps for women and girls in social assistance programs.
For 35 years, IWHC has been a bold advocate for the rights of women and girls at the United Nations. Our decades of experience in the global feminist movement and connections to grassroots advocates worldwide make IWHC a well-respected leader at CSW.
IWHC is a co-convener of the Women’s Rights Caucus—a self-organized feminist advocacy group dedicated to influencing CSW—and works diligently to coordinate the feminist agenda and amplify the voices of women and girls around the world. In the lead-up to CSW, we host a multi-day training program—Advocacy in Practice—for young advocates to build the knowledge and skills to influence diplomatic negotiations at the UN and beyond.
At CSW, IWHC tirelessly advocates for the fulfillment of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, particularly for those who have been historically marginalized.
Read IWHC’s CSW 63 Background Paper to learn more about our priorities at this year’s CSW.
Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown