The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. United Methodist Women is an active participant in this annual global gathering, especially through its Church Center for the United Nations.
A functional commission of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), it was established by Council resolution 11(II) of 21 June 1946. The CSW is instrumental in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.
In 1996, ECOSOC in resolution 1996/6 expanded the Commission’s mandate and decided that it should take a leading role in monitoring and reviewing progress and problems in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and in mainstreaming a gender perspective in U.N. activities.
Two Weeks of Activities
During the Commission’s annual two-week session under various themes, representatives of U.N. Member States, civil society organizations and U.N. entities gather at U.N. headquarters in New York. They discuss progress and gaps in the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the key global policy document on gender equality, and the 23rd special session of the General Assembly held in 2000 (Beijing+5), as well as emerging issues that affect gender equality and the empowerment of women. Member States agree on further actions to accelerate progress and promote women’s enjoyment of their rights in political, economic and social fields. The outcomes and recommendations of each session are forwarded to ECOSOC for follow-up.
Globally, United Methodist Women works to empower women and girls in the most marginalized communities through integrated social and economic development, advocacy, education and leadership development. Women are central to development, and women’s experiences must be at the core of decision-making and policy-making at all levels. The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide for advancing women’s human rights. United Methodist Women commits to enabling and creating space for women who are directly affected to claim their human rights and to hold governments accountable on the implementation of SDGs.
As in years past, United Methodist Women will be active participants, hosting side events at our Church Center for the United Nations, across the street from the U.N. and bringing in delegates from around the world. The 2016 Priority theme is: “Women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development.” The Review theme is: “The elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.”
This year for CSW-60, United Methodist Women will focus on economic empowerment. United Methodist Women will bring in 20 delegates from the following countries: Ukraine, Santo Domingo, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Israel, Honduras, Japan, Bangladesh, China, Russia and the United States of America.
We believe in genuine “empowerment” that recognizes women’s local knowledge, skills and leadership and engages them in decision-making. Therefore, while addressing women’s critical development concerns, we listen to their voice and look to their leadership. The annual commission is a special opportunity to hear from and talk to women in various advocacy roles around the world. In addition to official U.N. sessions, various nongovernmental and civil society organizations organize gatherings and side events to make the most use of this time together. For two weeks during the gathering, our Church Center for the United Nations is packed with women and men working together to advance women's rights.
The legally binding Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) adopted in 1979 by the U.N. General Assembly is often described as an international bill of rights for women. The Convention provides the basis for realizing equality between women and men through ensuring women's equal access to, and equal opportunities in, political and public life — including the right to vote and to stand for election — as well as education, health and employment. States parties agree to take all appropriate measures, including legislation and temporary special measures, so that women can enjoy all their human rights and fundamental freedoms.