Formally established in 1973, on the eve of the first United Nations World Conference of Women in Mexico (1975), the NGO Committee on the Status of Women Geneva (NGO CSW Geneva), started in 1947, initially as a subcommittee of the Special Committee on Human Rights within the Conference of NGOs (CoNGO).
The NGO CSW Geneva was a significant contributor to the First World Conference on Women and to all four of the succeeding UN World Conferences on Women. In particular it was a contributor to the 1995 Beijing Conference and its landmark outcome document, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action 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.
In 2001, the NGO CSW Geneva became a substantive Committee of CoNGO which allowed it to pursue its own activities to advance women’s human rights while retaining its association with the CoNGO Special Committee on Human Rights. In 2003, NGO CSW Geneva drafted its own rules to reflect its own activities and external factors.
Today, it is a solely independent, not-for profit association governed by its statutes and by Articles 60 et seq. of the Swiss civil code. All its members are accredited non-governmental organizations with consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. It acts as an independent, strategic body for international advocacy promoting the rights and empowerment of women and girls, focusing on sustainable development and gender equality and peace.
The principle aim of the Committee has always been to strive for gender equality in all spheres of life by working in partnership with the UN and its specialized agencies. In its goal of attaining a global momentum for mainstreaming gender equality, the NGO CSW Geneva strives to ensure that governments respect the commitments they have made at World Conferences and with international conventions, and that the principles on non-discrimination are respected.
Through national affiliates of its member organizations, it has 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.
NGO CSW Geneva members have consistently been actively involved in the work of the United Nations and its specialized agencies in Geneva, including the UN Treaty Bodies System (in particular, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Commission on Human Rights and its successor the Human Rights Council, as well as the International Labour Organization. It has also established a working relationship with the UNECE by collaborating with regional reviews on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action which have been held every five years.
The NGO CSW Geneva members are a vibrant group of organizations that collaborate with its sister NGO Committees in New York and Vienna, and also UN Women, in supporting the work of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), and more generally the UN development, environment and peace agenda.
Acting as a forum for the exchange of information and views on matters of common interest, it coordinates advocacy work such as the drafting of joint statements and the organization of events on the fringe of UN conferences and commissions; in particular the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Commission on the Status of Women; as it continues to support implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, UN Security Resolution 1325, the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) in particular SDG #5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment.