CSW 61

Monday, March 13, 2017

The sixty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 13 to 24 March 2017.


  • Priority theme: 
    Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work
  • Review theme:
    Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls (agreed conclusions of the fifty-eighth session)
  • Emerging issue/Focus area:
    The empowerment of indigenous women

WILPF has submitted a statement focusing on building a political economy of feminist peace.

WILPF DID NOT sponsor any events during the CSW61. 


Due to the exclusionary impact of the recent US Administration's Travel Ban Executive Order on the voices and lives of women from conflict-affected settings, WILPF International DID NOT participate in the 61st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. 

WILPF condemns any attempts to prevent women from specific countries or of a specific religion from attending international forums and seeking to influence the norm-building processes as it violates fundamental human rights principles and further restricts space for the leaders of civil society, including human rights defenders and peacebuilders.

In solidarity with our partners in the MENA region, WILPF took the lead on protesting women’s exclusion at the CSW61. We refused to engage formally, moved our events with our partners in Syria, Libya and Yemen to Geneva, shared an open letter to ambassadors in New York and Geneva and worked with our grassroots network and partners to raise awareness of #MissingVoices at the CSW61 in diverse spaces and with a broad range of stakeholders. We also provided alternative spaces for excluded women to share their expertise and raise their voices.

Our action was successful! The issue was raised at the highest levels: the 17 March 2017 UN Secretary General Town Hall meeting with society included an empty chair recognising #MissingVoices. Beyond this, civil society brought attention through a #NoBordersOnGenderJustice initiative, empty chairs campaign, a rally, and outreach; governments also raised the issue of women’s exclusion during negotiations. The final Agreed Conclusions outcome document addressed meaningful participation of women in decision-making as a key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence.

A lot of work is ahead: Ongoing obstacles continue in the shape of visa rejections, sidelining on panels, lack of action on the Women, Peace and Security commitments and otherwise. To ensure that this conversation moves forward, WILPF will be holding a convening on overcoming obstacles to women’s meaningful participation at the UN in Geneva at the end of April 2017. 

For more information on CSW 61, see the UN Women website  here >>

For more information on CSW 61, see the NGO CSW website here >>