What is UN Women?

UN Women is the UN entity devoted to gender equality and empowerment for women and girls. It was created in 2010 and brought together several UN agencies into one, namely, the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), the Office of the Special Advisor on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI) and the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). 

By marshalling the resources of those separate agencies into one, it was hoped to accelerate the push to meet more fully the needs of women worldwide. UN Women leads and coordinates the UN systems’ work on gender equality and is responsible for promoting accountability on the progress towards equality. 

What does it do? 

UN Women supports member states by setting standards to achieve gender equity and works with governments to design and develop laws, policies, programs, and services for women and girls. It provides the technical and financial support to states needing and requesting such assistance. 

UN Women coordinates and participates in all deliberations about the 2030 Agenda and promotes the UN’s main gender tools, the Convention to End all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA). UN Women also works globally to promote the Sustainable Development Goals’ priorities related to girls including: 

  • Women to lead, participate, and benefit equally from governance  systems
  • Women to have income security, decent work, and economic equity
  • All women and girls should live free from all forms of violence 
  • Women and girls can contribute to sustainable peace and benefit equally on prevention of disaster, conflicts and humanitarian actions.

How does UN Women relate to the CSW?

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was established shortly after the founding of the UN in 1946. It is the principal intergovernmental body that promotes gender equality and the empowerment of women. UN Women supports its work and facilitates the participation of members of civil society through NGOs in its annual session.  In 1996, the role of the CSW was expanded to include monitoring and reviewing of the progress towards the goals of the BPfA.

UN Women and the Generation Equality Forum

In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform of Action (BPfA), UN Women joined with governments, civil society organizations, and youth representatives to organize the Generation Equality Forum (GEF).  The Forum met in two sessions.  In March, the government of Mexico, working with UN Women, sponsored the first session discussing progress made by women as well as setbacks since Beijing. In June, the government of France together with UN Women sponsored the second session where new specific commitments were made by states, the private sector, and civil society stakeholders. The result of those two virtual sessions was an outcome document, the Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality, the action blueprint for the global women’s movement going forward. 


UN Women

CEDAW (Web Format)

Beijing Plan of Action (BPfA)

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Women

Committee on the Status of Women (CSW)

Generation Equality Forum (GEF) (pdf)

Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equity


Submitted by Pam Perraud