Panel with Linda and Liz

NAWO’s international work includes:

  • Engaging with the annual policy-making gathering the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
  • Upholding the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women
  • Upholding the Beijing Platform for Action engaging with European processes and stakeholders, including the European Women’s Lobby.

Significant Impact

a)  Led European (ECE) Regional Caucus in partnership with other Regional Caucuses at CSW in important and successful lobbying of governments against any weakening of language in the Agreed Conclusions, so as to diminish women’s rights as set out in the Beijing Platform for Action. This was in reference, especially, to their rights to reproductive health and services.

b)  Worked with GEAR campaign to ensure establishment of UN Women.

c)  Worked with other leading NGOs on the needs and concerns of older women enabling the introduction of the General Recommendation no 27 in CEDAW on the rights of Older Women.

d) Began latterly to accredit under our auspices young women (16-18 year olds) and some young men to CSW, thus enabling them to gain experience of the global NGO community concerned about gender inequality and the lack of access to their human rights of girls and women globally.  This Youth Caucus  presented a whole range of side-events using drama as well as more traditional  panel methods and is directly relevant to the theme of women and men boys and girls working in partnership and with equal responsibility for women’s equality and advancement including in caring roles.

Participation in the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies and/or conferences and other United Nations meetings

Since 1999, NAWO has attended and played an active role in NGO participation at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). As well as submitting written statements which become part of the official documentation of the Session, NAWO has lobbied particular delegates and has also taken the opportunity to meet with the European Union delegation and European NGOs whilst attending CSW.  In addition, NAWO works together with other NGOs in a larger geographical grouping through its membership of the European Women’s Lobby [EWL]. During this period, NAWO’s Chair represented theUnited Kingdomon the Board of the European Women’s Lobby and, as elected Vice-President. also led the EWL delegation to the UN for two sessions.  In this capacity, she convened the European (ECE) Regional Caucus at CSW.


Geneva Preparation committees

NAWO Board members attended the preparatory NGO forum in Geneva in December 2009 as part of the European and ECE Regional Prepcom for CSW54; NAWO worked with other participating NGOs to ensure language on trafficking for sexual purposes and on mechanisms for reform of the UN was as progressive as possible.

In November 2014 NAWO again attended a Geneva Prepcom to influence the European and ECE Regional partners positions approaching CSW59.  NAWO worked with other NGOs to ensure that the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was not rolled back, in the political declaration that was prepared prior to and finalised on the first day of CSW59.

Co-operation with United Nations bodies

Visit of UN Special Rapporteur, Dr Yakin Ertürk to meet with European and UK NGOs

In the Autumn of 2006 NAWO began negotiations with the office of the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against women with the objective of hosting a European Regional Consultation, this was accepted and confirmed for January 11-13, 2007.  NGOs from Europe and from within the UK gathered to hear Dr. Yakin Ertürk speak and to develop understanding on how the Special Rapporteur’s Office worked and could be accessed by NGOs and individuals with complaints.  This was a  major three-day event inLondon.  All funding, including the costs of the UN Special Rapporteur and her assistant, were raised and funded by NAWO.  This was the first time such an event had been held inEurope.  Alas, it remains unique – the costs are very high.

Working on CEDAW – Shadow Reporting

During the same period NAWO consulted widely throughout the membership in preparation for its contribution to the Government response to CEDAW and especially to the Shadow Reports.  Building on expertise gained, in 2014, Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women visited the UK as part of the CEDAW Committee.  The UK NGO CSW Alliance produced this report in 2014 to reflect on UK Government progress, and the Rapporteur’s comments, ‘UK Women: Rights and Progress’.  Rashida Manjoo will present her findings in June 2015, for her initial comments on the UK gender equality situation see here.

A Human Right to Peace

NAWO has also supported the campaign for a new UN Human Right to Peace led by David Fernandez Puyana, Director of the World Campaign on the Human Right to Peace.  The Declaration was brought to the attention of the Human Rights Council and its Advisory Committee as a final contribution from international civil society to the international codification process of the right to peace. The United Nations and its member States and experts have before them a solid text, which should be the basis of the official codification of the right to peace.

This campaign also seeks to debate the necessity for and eventually establish an International Observatory of the Human Right to Peace integrated in the SSIHRL.  This institution would, inter alia, promote and implement the Declaration on the Human Right to Peace world-wide. It would also ensure that the current process comes to a successful conclusion in the UN General Assembly.[1]

NAWO’s particular contribution has been to keep the issue of a gendered lens and a gender focus to the fore in all the work on the Human Right to Peace.

Activities in line with the Millennium Goals

NAWO will be working with both NAWO Membership and Organisations from the UK NGO CSW Alliance (of which NAWO administers Secretariat duties) to influence the Sustainable Development Goals, which will replace the Millenium Development Goals this year (2015).

NAWO considers that all the activities it undertakes towards the empowerment of women are in line with the Millennium Goals, especially since much of its work is educational in the broadest sense.  If the UN body including accredited NGOs are active and actively involved in the arguments against women’s continuing poverty, experience of violence, lack of basic freedoms, prevention of the girl child from attending school, lack of the right to freedom of movement and so forth, then globally its status and its actions are strengthened.

Locally, at UK Government level, NAWO argued extensively against the abolition of the Women’s National Commission in January 2010 which had been established 41 years previously in response to the United Nation’s request that governments should set up national mechanisms to listen to women.  The Government Equalities Office has taken over the functions of what had been an advisory independent, albeit government-funded, body.

NAWO has worked to have a new gender architecture established which could go some way to enabling women whose national infrastructure was thus removed, to provide a collective voice to government and to communicate effectively amongst themselves.  This led to the formation of the UK NGO CSW Alliance, for which NAWO administers Secretariat duties though the alliance stands independently. This is a dynamic, powerful alliance with a range of expertise, fully inclusive and striving to create meaningful change together.

However, it is ironic that at the same time as we were campaigning for UN Women and Gender Architecture Reform at the UN, which the UK Government then and now supports, we lost our own.


[1] Text from Programme of the INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON THE HUMAN RIGHT TO PEACE, Santiago de Compostela –Spain; 9-10 December 2010


 NAWO Letter to President Obama

NAWO sent a letter to President Barack Obama of the United States of America in November 2011, read the text of the letter here.