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The UN Commission on the Status of Women

Women UNlimited - commission on the status of women

The UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is dedicated exclusively to gender equality and the advancement of women. It is the principal global policy-making body, and meets in New York every year. We are publishing articles framing some of themes for debate this year, and reports from those attending the CSW.

Further coverage: AWID, Twitter, #CSW57, UN live webcasts.

View the full list of coverage, or browse the coverage by year (2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007).


Reclaiming feminist visions of empowerment

Glib and glossy visions of women’s empowerment, designed to avoid actual power structures, are being avidly promoted by corporations and the development industry alike. A new book by Srilatha Batliwala reminds us of what lies at the heart of feminist empowerment work.

CSW: Arguments for reducing the intense time burden of women's unpaid care work

Unpaid care work is one of the major barriers to women's rights, economic empowerment and poverty reduction. Will the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, and the frantic efforts of women's rights advocates at the CSW in New York this week, get unpaid care work on to the post-2015 agenda ?

CSW weather vane: fault lines and prospects for women's human rights

As battles over women’s human rights rage on around the world, governments have gathered in New York this week to set some definitive agreements at the UN’s annual Commission on the Status of Women

A war against women: The CSW declaration and the Muslim Brotherhood riposte

The statement issued by the Muslim Brotherhood in response to the UN Commission on the Status of Women draft Agreed Conclusions on violence against women, is nothing short of an assault on their most basic rights as citizens and human beings, says Hoda Elsadda ,

CSW: resisting the backlash against women's human rights

Women's rights activists spent two hard weeks at the Commission on the Status of Women pushing back against fundamentalist opposition and the attempt to roll back women's human rights. Susan Tolmay reports on the battles which resulted in the advancement of women's rights in this year's Agreed Conclusions.

CSW on balance: did we win?

There is much to celebrate from this year’s CSW, but the failure to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls to be included as a priority in the post 2015 framework, is a clear sign that our work is far from over, says Zohra Moosa

Women and the post-2015 agenda: are you on board the ark?

With the roller-coaster of the CSW just finished and the resignation of UNWomen Director Michelle Bachelet, the next year promises stormy seas ahead for setting the future agenda for women’s rights. Alice Welbourn sets out some priorities for civil society in relation to HIV, gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive rights.

CSW : will the global women's rights movement prevail?

“Violence against women and girls is not in anyone's culture, tradition or religion. This is about power, inequality, a lack of political will and courage to work towards a better world," says Shareen Gokal. Will those with the political will to end violence against women and girls prevail in the final hours of the CSW? 

CSW: it's time to question the Vatican's power at the UN

In the final days of the UN Commission on the Status of Women summit on eliminating violence against women and girls, the Vatican, in alliance with Iran, Syria and Russia, is working to roll-back agreement on women’s rights. No other religious institution or special interest group has this level of influence in UN negotiations. 

CSW: The UN is nothing without being global

Agendas driven by political alignments, issues of sovereignty, the secular versus the non-secular, and donor versus recipient countries, continue to inform the debate at the CSW. Ten years ago, no agreement was reached on how to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls. What are the prospects for agreement this time ? 

Sex work, violence and HIV: experience from rural Karnataka

In the final days of the CSW meeting in New York, arguments over the language to be used in the Outcome Document are continuing, with some States refusing to acknowledge the existence of intimate partner violence in spite of widespread scientific evidence and testimony from victims of violence.  

CSW: will there be an Agreed Conclusion to the CSW this year?

As the CSW enters its final week, the political agendas of different countries are reflected in the deep divisions over how to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls. Furious arguments are going on over the use of language: 'harmful practices' or 'traditional harmful practises', 'girl' or 'child'? 

CSW: from the global to the local - an extraordinary opportunity

Walking the bustling corridors of the UN headquarters with my Ugandan colleagues, I realise that I am situated – physically, intellectually, emotionally, politically – in the most direct connection between global policy making and grass root programming. Charlotte Watts reflects on her first week at the UN CSW

Who should care about stoning?

Today sees the launch of a new Global Campaign to Stop Stoning. Rochelle Terman examines the history of this gendered practice of violence against women. With stoning, as with all forms of culturally-justified violence against women, it is very difficult to see where culture ends and politics begin.

CSW: the battle over women's sexual and reproductive rights

The battle over women's sexual and reproductive rights is at the centre of much debate at the CSW and the anti-abortionists are out in force. At one event participants were confronted with a pile of small pink plastic foetuses on a table at the entrance of the room. Valeria Costa-Kostrisky reports

CSW: the gulf between the UN and civil society

We are worlds apart. Separated not just by First Avenue, but by a vast gap in beliefs, philosophy, ideas and hopes. Margaret Owen, director of an NGO, reports on the battle over the text of the Agreed Conclusions at the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women

CSW: gender and unsustainable development

Women activists from Guatemala, Colombia, Kazakhstan and Fiji came to the CSW to share their experiences of agrofuels and mining in their countries, Valeria Costa-Kostritsky reports from the CSW

CSW: Voices from Afghanistan

The engagement of women as suicide bombers in the Taliban insurgency manifests fresh directions in the approaches and ideologies of those who are behind it. Counterinsurgency measures need to pay attention to the factors that drive women and girls to join the Taliban as suicide bombers, says Massouda Jalal

Criminal law: HIV and violence against women

Recent court decisions in Canada on HIV non-disclosure are bad science, bad public health policy, and bad medicine for women, says Louise Binder

Afghanistan: the blind pursuit of peace and reconciliation

Our peace process is a vessel for enabling more human rights violations to ensue in the near future. We need the international community to join us in strengthening the human rights of Afghan women. Let no country stand alone in protecting its people, says Massouda Jalal

CSW: women of old age - a lifetime of violence

Women's organisations working to address violence against older women are calling a for special convention of older people, and for amendments to the Agreed Conclusions now being argued over at the CSW.

The post 2015 development agenda: what's at stake for the world's women?

"We want to be included. We are still invisible in the process of consultation. We are the key stakeholders. Inequality is part of discrimination. We want inequality to be included in the goals"- Jhocas Castillo, community organiser in Manila. Valeria Costa-Kostritsky reports from the UN CSW

Beyond a war of words: will the UN agree to act to end violence against women?

The 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women opens today with member States - and thousands of women's rights advocates and organisations - set to debate how to end violence against women. Valeria Costa-Kostritsky reports from New York

'Traditional values' vs human rights at the UN

A dangerous process is taking place in the UN system that threatens the universality of human rights by seeking to make them contingent on subjective ‘traditional values’ such as ‘responsible behaviour’.

Fear and fury: women and post-revolutionary violence

Putting episodes of post-Arab spring violence against women down to a routine manifestation of patriarchy and its allied misogyny in the societies concerned may unwittingly shield power-holders from more searching scrutiny. What is at stake is no longer just women and their bodies but the body politic itself, argues Deniz Kandiyoti.

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