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What is the Commission on the Status of Women?

Established in 1947, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental organisation dedicated to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. The CSW is a functional commission of the United Nationals Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and provides a platform for monitoring the progress in implementing the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA). The annual CSW is a two-week-long process. Every year, representatives of member states, civil society organisations (CSOs) and United Nations (UN) entities gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York, to assess progress and gaps, identify emerging issues that affect gender equality and the empowerment of women, and formulate recommendations to promote gender equality and the advancement of women. Those recommendations take the form of negotiated agreed conclusions and are submitted to the ECOSOC to inform the global development agenda.

The discussion and negotiations on the agreed conclusions focus on a priority theme. In preparation for CSW, the report of the UN Secretary-General examines issues and makes recommendations related to the priority theme. Some meetings also revolve around the review theme, which monitors progress in implementing the agreed conclusion of previous years. Other meetings discuss the emerging issues and focus area. In 2017, the priority theme is ‘Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work’; the review theme is ‘Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls’ (agreed conclusions of the CSW58); the emerging issues/focus area is ‘The empowerment of indigenous women’.

Throughout the two weeks of CSW, member states, CSOs, development partners and academia in attendance run a series of side events highlighting success stories and achievements on gender equality. It is always a busy and exciting time at the UN Headquarters in New York, with a large number of events taking place as part of the CSW.

The first week of CSW involves the presentation of the Secretary-General’s report, ministerial roundtables, high-level dialogues and expert panels, and several parallel events. Civil society organisations are also heavily involved in the CSW. The CSO side events deal with a multitude of topics regarding gender equality and women’s human rights. Those events continue during the second week, but the negotiations of the agreed conclusions also intensify during the second week, with the objective of reaching agreement and endorsing the agreed conclusions on the last day of CSW.

Why do Pacific states engage in CSW?

UN member states from the Pacific region may wish to participate in this annual meeting, to ensure that the global development agenda reflects the priorities of Pacific women. The Commission on the Status of Women is a platform for Pacific delegates to provide input into the global policy agenda. It also is space for learning lessons from across the globe that Pacific states may want to replicate and adapt, to advance their efforts in progressing gender equality. Engagement by Pacific member states at CSW is another mechanism for strengthening regional cooperation on gender equality, and it is also another avenue for providing visibility on how Pacific Island countries and territories are progressing gender equality in the region.

How do Pacific states engage in CSW?

There are several activities in which delegates can engage, which are described below.

The preparation phase:

  • Become familiar with the report of the Secretary-General
  • Review the global, regional, and national commitments to gender equality and women’s human rights
  • Engage in a dialogue in-country to discuss your country’s position in relation to the draft agreed conclusions, which is usually made available to the countries one month before CSW
  • Provide inputs to the draft agreed conclusions through your mission in New York, in order to reflect your country’s position
  • Prepare the country statement