What are the NGO CSW Committees?

The NGO CSW committees are substantive committees of the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the UN (CoNGO), an independent, international membership organization founded in 1948. The purpose of CoNGO and its committees is to facilitate the inclusion of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in UN proceedings, including gaining access to and participating in consultative processes.  

The seven NGO CSWs facilitate the participation of NGO representatives in the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).  The NGO CSWs provide a framework for women to organize and advocate for gender equality as laid out in UN documents such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Beijing Platform for Action, Security Council Resolution 1325, and the Sustainable Development Goals. 

What is the basis for NGO participation in the UN? 

The Charter of the United Nations specifies in Article 71 that NGOs may be consulted: “The Economic and Social Council may make suitable arrangements for consultation with non-governmental organizations which are concerned with matters within its competence.  Such arrangements may be made with international organizations, and where appropriate, with national organizations after consultation with the Member of the United Nations concerned.” 

When were the NGO CSWs established?

The first NGO CSW was established in New York in 1972 in preparation for the International Women’s Year in 1975, the first UN world conference on women in 1975 in Mexico City, and the UN Decade on Women (1975-1985).  Its mandate was to provide a forum for exchange of information among NGOs interested in participating and influencing those UN observances.  

The NGO CSW committee in Geneva began in 1973 with a similar rationale and mandate. The other European NGO CSW began in Vienna in 1982.  Those three NGO CSWs were the primary vehicles for inclusion of women’s voices in UN proceedings for several decades.  

Under the leadership of Soon-Young Yoon, head of NGO CSW New York (2011-2015), four NGO CSW committees developed in the UN regions, including Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and the Arab States.   

What is the special role of NGO CSW New York?

NGO CSW NY organizes Consultation Day, a preparatory event for NGOs attending the Commission on the Status of Women.  It is held on the Sunday before the start of the CSW session. NGO CSW NY also organizes the NGO Forum, a series of parallel events that take place over the 14 days of the CSW.   Forum events are presented by NGOs from around the world and are open to the public.  In addition, NGO CSW NY arranges for briefings by UN officials during the CSW.  Those briefings offer an opportunity for NGO representatives to ask questions and give feedback to UN officials about the status of women globally.  

How can NGOs participate in the NGO CSW committees?

Organizations that have consultative status with ECOSOC may join the NGO CSWs by paying dues and may vote in NGO CSW deliberations.  Non-accredited organizations and individuals may become non-voting members by paying dues.


NGO CSW New York

NGO CSW Geneva  

NGO CSW Vienna   

NGO CSW Latin America Caribbean  

NGO CSW Africa   

NGO CSW Asia Pacific   

NGO CSW Arab States  

Conference of NGOs (CoNGO)  

History of the CSW and NGO Participation by Marlene Parenzan (pdf)


Submitted by Susan Lee