Initially a CoNGO working group on the status of women, the NGO CSW Geneva was formally created in 1973 to prepare for the First World Conference on Women. Since then, it has become a strategic body for international advocacy towards the promotion of women’s rights to sustainable development, gender equality and their empowerment.
The Committee has been a significant contributor to the First World Conference of Women and to the succeeding Women’s world conferences. It helped draft the Programmes and Platforms for Actions and the Vienna Declaration on Violence Against Women in 1994. It has also been an important partner of the Office of the High commissioner in integrating gender equality and women’s rights in the UN system. Through national affiliates of its member organizations, it has also been working very closely with local and national governments to advance the status of women and the girlchild in economic, social and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights.
A short summary of the establishment of a CoNGO substantive Committee devoted to the Status of Women.
In 1947, at the occasion of the creation of the ECOSOC Commission on Human Rights, it was first decided to integrate the question of gender in a working group, as it was the case for the Indigenous and tribal peoples. The proposition was ill received by Women’s organisations of all tendencies. Under the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt and Adrienne Avril de Sainte Croix, French president of oldest Women NGO (ICW-CIF) a new Commission on Status of women was finally created, which nowadays still allow women’s affairs to benefit of a special instance!
At the same moment, International NGOs decided to unite their strength to form the Conference of International NGOs, CoNGO, with substantive committees.
Groups working on the Status of Women were then created in each UN Center in New York, Geneva and Vienna the years 1948-1949. It is the occasion to remind that, already during the time of the League of Nations, Women NGOs were often associated with the work of the Mains Committees.
During the following years, the three groups were often subject to attacks from tenants of different systems concerning the Status of Women. Those attacks have mostly aimed at keeping the so-called impure gender in its low status.
We are still unhappily living at a time when customary laws and also legislation aimed at keeping women at their place, i.e. under the control of men. Early marriages, land ownership, inheritance, healthcare and others are still under the supervision of male domination.
Therefore, the NGO CSW Geneva is still pursuing its main objective: equality of right between Women and Man.
Jeannine de Boccard, ICW-CIF