Faith in Action

The 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. It is a functional commission of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), established in 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.


This year, the CSW will draw about 15,000 people when it meets from March 11–22 at the United Nations (UN) in New York City. The Salvation Army is an active member of the group and will send at least 15 delegates to the Commission. During the past 12 years, the Army has sent delegates from all parts of the world to participate in this event.

During the CSW, The Salvation Army takes on a logistical role. When delegates from Non–Governmental Organizations (NGOs) attend from other countries, the Army provides a place in the city for them to set up their displays and to host parallel events and receptions.

The Salvation Army has also hosted such events, which have focused on the Army’s work and offered discussions on the themes of the year.

For example, during one International Day of the Girl Child, teenage girls represented the Army on a panel. They participated with other girls from around the world as they expressed their thoughts and shared heartfelt testimonies on global issues.

Each year, the Commission chooses a “Priority Theme.” It also reviews a prior theme from three years ago, which it calls the “Review Theme.” Delegates then discuss and agree upon a plan of action, which they take back to their respective countries. They then advocate for legislation that hopefully will be put into law.

This year, the Priority Theme is “Social protection systems, access to public services, and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.” The Review Theme is “Women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development.”

UN Women will begin the CSW with a worship service that a group of ecumenical women will hold on Saturday, March 9, before the Commission officially starts on Monday, March 11.

— Major Victoria Edmonds is a retired
Salvation Army officer and The Salvation Army’s representative to the UN.

1947

The United Nations (UN) is established. Soon after, the CSW meets at Lake Success, N.Y. The CSW becomes a unit  of the United Nations and later becomes the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) in the UN Secretariat. That same year, The Salvation Army receives consultative status at the UN.

1947–1962

The Commission sets standards and formulates international conventions to change discriminatory legislation. It fosters global awareness of women’s issues by contributing to the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Commission argues against references to men as the synonym for humanity, and succeeds in introducing new, more inclusive language.

1963

Efforts to consolidate standards for women’s rights lead to the UN General Assembly’s request that the Commission draft a Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which the Assembly ultimately adopts in 1967.

1960s

As evidence accumulates that women are disproportionately affected by poverty, the Commission focuses on women’s needs in community and rural development, agricultural work, family planning, and scientific and technological advances.

1972

To mark its 25th anniversary, the Commission recommends that the year 1975 be designated as International Women’s Year, which draws attention to women’s equality with men and to their contribution to development and peace.

1975

1st World Conference on Women is held in Mexico City, Mexico.

1980

2nd World Conference on Women is held in Copenhagen, Denmark.

1985

3rd World Conference on Women is held in Nairobi, Kenya.

1994

The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences is appointed by the Commission on Human Rights, with a mandate to investigate and report on all aspects of violence against women.

1995

The Commission serves as the preparatory body for the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. It adopts the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.  The Salvation Army sends 10 women to this conference.

2011

The UN combines all the offices that deal with the Women’s issues Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), Office of the Special Adviser  on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI), and the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).  They merge to become UN Women, which is now the Secretariat of the Commission on the Status of Women.
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