CSW 56

Monday, February 27, 2012

The fifty-sixth session of the Commission on the Status of Women took place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from Monday, 27 February to Friday, 9 March 2012. The closing meeting was held on 15 March 2012.

  • Priority theme: Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls
  • Priority theme: The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges
  • Review theme: Financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women
  • Emerging issue: Engaging young women and men, girls and boys to advance gender equality

Read more here.


WILPF members from several sections participated in CSW 56 (2012), including Pakistan, Japan, Nigeria, U.S., Sweden and Lebanon.  During this year’s CSW, WILPF was active at numerous events and actively voiced its ongoing recommendations for a holistic approach to conflict prevention, by way of statements and through advocacy efforts. WILPF’s official CSW 56 statement is available online at Peacewomen.org (ref: E/CN.6/2012/NGO/27).

WILPF Nigeria held event on “Human Security for Rural Women in Nigeria - using SCR 1325.  Joy Onyesoh, the WILPF Nigeria president, highlighted the urgent need to advance the process of formulating and drafting a comprehensive Nigerian National Action Plan for implementation of SCR 1325. Sameena Nazir of WILPF Pakistan spoke at our second panel, which was co-hosted by various CSO organisations and entitled “Food, Sovereignty, Conflict and Peace”. On Friday March 2, US WILPF and PeaceWomen co-hosted an event recognizing the release of WILPF's report on the Civil Society Consultations on the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (SCR 1325)

The PeaceWomen team also monitored events and resources specifically related to the Women, Peace and Security agenda throughout 56th Session. In this summary report, PeaceWomen reviews the events related to the WPS agenda. Overall PeaceWomen reports on 27 events related to the WPS agenda, of these events close to half focused on women’s participation in both politics and society and just under a third dealt with gender based violence and/or sexual violence in conflict.  Other consistent themes included women’s access, or lack thereof to justice, human rights property and adequate health services.  The need to involve women in prevention and protection mechanisms was another notable theme as was discussion on how member states and UN organs can work to better operationalize the WPS agenda particularly in rural areas.

The official theme of CSW56 (The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges) did not explicitly focus on the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, however the link between the priority theme and SCR1325 is clear and there were a large number of events focused directly on issues related to women in conflict and post-conflict situations. Although the majority of WPS events were held by NGO’s, several Member States, most notably Austria, the United States, Canada, Norway, South Africa and Sri Lanka also organized/hosted events.

Given the high prevalence of conflict in rural areas, this year’s priority theme provided the catalyst for many events focusing on the peace and security challenges faced by women in conflict and post-conflict societies.

Read PeaceWomen’s full report here.


The 56th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) took place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from Monday, 27 February to Friday, 9 March 2012. This session focused on the theme of "the empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges." Sadly, no outcome document (on agreed conclusions) was adopted by Member States. This was only the second time that the CSW had failed to agree on an outcome document. WILPF and other women’s groups expressed strong disappointment at the inability of parties to adopt an agreed conclusion able to promote and solidify the role of Rural Women in Development as agents for change and progress in their society.

Despite the CSW’s disappointing failure to adopt an outcome document they were successful in negotiating seven draft resolutions with content and language relevant to the WPS agenda.  These draft resolutions to be recommended by ECOSOC included: Ending female genital mutilation, E/CN.6/2012/8., Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women, E/CN.6/2012/,Release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflicts, Gender equality and the empowerment of women in natural disasters, Eliminating maternal mortality and morbidity through the empowerment of women, Indigenous women: key actors in poverty and hunger eradication, Women, the girl child and HIV and AIDS. PeaceWomen urges all actors to implement these texts in order to see impact women’s lives.

Consistent with the past two years the resolution on the situation of Palestinian women made clear reference to SCR 1325 and stressed the need to involve women in the peacebuilding process: “Emphasizing the importance of increasing the role of women in peacebuilding and decision-making with regard to conflict prevention and the peaceful resolution of conflicts as part of efforts to ensure the safety and well being of all women in the region, and stressing the importance of their equal participation and involvement in all efforts for the achievement, maintenance and promotion of peace and security…”.

Other noteworthy highlights from a WPS perspective included the launch by UN Women of the Evidence and Data for Gender Equality (EDGE) Initiative.  This project seeks to support countries in the collection and usage of sex-disaggregated statistics, and to help strengthen national capacity and national systems on data collection as a means to advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality.  In addition UN Women announced its commitment to partnering with the UN Rome based agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Food Programme to provide support for successful local initiatives promoting rural women’s and girl’s empowerment.