Each year, between 9,000 and 11,000 NGO and Civil Society representatives attend the Commission on the Status of Women. They come from all over the world to network, exchange best practices, and collaborate to raise the voices of women from every country and group. It is the largest, and most important, gathering of women-focused organisations in the world.

In early March 2020, UN Secretary General António Guterres requested that States Parties cancel or postone the 64th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women due to the risks associated with the spread of Covid-19 (Coronavirus). ACWW will therefore be producing a series of resources and making them available here and on our social media channels.

Letter to UN Negotiators regarding the CSW Political Declaration

This year the governments present are finding that some countries are pushing hard to remove the words ‘human rights’ and references to ‘all women and girls’ from the document, which obviously weakens important legal documents that people all over the world rely on to guarantee their rights. The UK government negotiators in New York have asked ACWW to put forward a letter stating our position (see below), and to gather signatories from as many national and international organisations as possible, including our members here in the UK. Our position is this:

  • Women’s rights are human rights, universal and inalienable. It is important that the references to ‘human rights’ are not removed from legal documents which are supposed to be securing human rights for women.
  • When words are included in a UN treaty or Declaration, they become what is called “Agreed Language”. This means it can be referenced in international law, and when governments make decisions that harm their own people, those people can use agreed language to challenge such laws or decisions in court. This has even happened in the UK recently in some cases relating to Universal Credit. It is important that agreed language is not weakened but removing it from documents, so that living conditions and rights do not go backwards.
  • All our governments sit at the United Nations and tell each other they seek improvements in quality of life. Whether this is the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement, or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is important that governments make these commitments in accountable ways, and which can be tracked so that when they say they are doing something, there is evidence to support this.
  • In the Political Declaration currently being negotiated, some countries have said that “women and girls who experience multiple forms of discrimination have made the least progress”. The problem with this statement is that it blames the women and girls, rather than those who discriminate against them, or the governments who should be making laws to protect them. We want to see the wording changed to “women and girls who experience multiple forms of discrimination have seen the least progress”.

Read the letter to UN Negotiators