Commission on the Status of Women

The 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. 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 UN activities. Following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, the Commission now also contributes to the follow-up to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development so as to accelerate the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of women (ECOSOC resolution 2015/6).

During the Commission’s annual two-week session, representatives of UN Member States, civil society organizations and UN entities gather at UN 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.

UN Women supports all aspects of the Commission’s work. The Entity also facilitates the participation of civil society representatives.


Methods of Work

The Commission adopts multi-year work programmes to appraise progress and make further recommendations to accelerate the implementation of the Platform for Action. These recommendations take the form of negotiated agreed conclusions on a priority theme.

Under its current methods of work, established by ECOSOC resolution 2015/6, at each session the Commission:

  • Holds a ministerial segment to reaffirm and strengthen political commitment to the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as well as their human rights and to ensure high-level engagement and the visibility of the deliberations of the Commission;
  • Engages in general discussion on the status of gender equality, identifying goals attained, achievements made and efforts under way to close gaps and meet challenges in relation to the priority theme and the review theme;
  • Considers one priority theme, based on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcomes of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly and possible linkages to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
  • Evaluates progress in implementing agreed conclusions from previous sessions as a review theme;
  • Addresses emerging issues, trends, focus areas and new approaches to questions affecting the situation of women, that require timely consideration;
  • Plays a catalytic role for gender mainstreaming in the United Nations system and contributes gender perspectives to the work of other intergovernmental processes and functional commissions;
  • Considers in closed meeting the report of its Working Group on Communications;
  • Agrees on further actions for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women by adopting agreed conclusions and resolutions; and

Sets aside time for the observation of International Women’s Day on 8 March, when it falls within its session.


Multi-Year Programme of Work

The Commission elaborated a multi-year programme of work for the first time in 1987, containing priority themes for discussion and action at its annual sessions, per ECOSOC resolution 1987/24. Subsequently, multi-year programmes of work were adopted in 1996 in ECOSOC resolution 1996/6, in 2001 in ECOSOC resolution 2001/4, in 2006 in ECOSOC resolution 2006/9, in 2009 in ECOSOC resolution 2009/15, in 2013 in ECOSOC resolution 2013/18 and in 2016 in ECOSOC resolution 2016/3. Since 2006, the Commission has added an annual review theme, to evaluate the implementation of agreed conclusions from a previous session.

Themes for 2010–2019 are:

  • 2010: Review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly and its contribution to shaping a gender perspective towards the full realization of the Millennium Development Goals.
  • 2011: Priority theme: Access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work. Review theme: The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child, from the 51st session of the CSW.
  • 2012: Priority theme: The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges. Review theme: Financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women, from the 52nd session of the CSW.
  • 2013: Priority theme: Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. Review theme: The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS, from the 53rd session of the CSW.
  • 2014: Priority theme: Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls. Review theme: Access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work, from the 54th session of the CSW.
  • 2015: Review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, including current challenges that affect the implementation of the Platform for Action and the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women, as well as opportunities for strengthening gender equality and the empowerment of women in the post‑2015 development agenda through the integration of a gender perspective.
  • 2016: Priority theme: Women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development. Review theme: The elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls, from the 57th session of the CSW.
  • 2017: Priority theme: Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work. Review theme: Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls, from the 58th session of the CSW.
  • 2018: Priority theme: Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls. Review theme: Participation in and access of women to the media, and information and communications technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women, from the 47th session of the CSW.
  • 2019: Priority theme: Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Review theme: Women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development, from the 60th session of the CSW.