UNCSW_picOne of the largest and most representative delegations of women trades unionists is currently attending the 54th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations. But they have been blocked from raising key issues. Read their Open Letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Visit the delegation blog. View the draft resolution of the UNCSW. Sign the letter for ACTION.


Your Excellency,

We are writing this open letter to express our outrage with the process and substance of the 54th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).  At this CSW meeting, we are representing more than 200 million members of the International Trade Union Confederation, Public Services International, Education International and UNI Global Union.

This gathering of the CSW marking Beijing +15 is a critical forum for us to reflect upon the 12 areas of the Platform, assess gains made, and determine what still needs to be done by Governments in partnership with unions and civil society to achieve equality between women and men. Engaging civil society in this assessment process is critical to the success of this UNCSW, but also to our collective success in achieving gender equality.

Unfortunately, to date, our effective participation in this UNCSW has been impossible.  At every juncture in the process, civil society members have faced significant roadblocks – from the outcome documents having been agreed upon ahead of time and adopted by the second day of the CSW54 meetings, to the line-ups at registration, to the lack of sufficient space, the difficult and unhealthy conditions in the meeting rooms, the lack of interpretation in conference rooms, and so many other obstacles in between.

Women from around the world have come to the CSW in hopes of being heard, and have invested considerable time and resources to get here.  They have experienced discouragement and a profound sense of disrespect.  Most of these difficulties go well beyond the logistics associated with the ongoing renovations at the UN Headquarters.

Your Excellency, you have been consistent in affirming the important contribution of civil society in the work of the United Nations, and you have so eloquently stated that our times demand a new definition of leadership – global leadership, which includes civil society in our work towards the collective global good. Yet, at this year’s CSW, civil society has been silenced.

The effective engagement of civil society at this 54th session of the CSW is all the more important as we look ahead to the September summit on the Millennium Development Goals.  Moreover, in this time of global economic crisis, it is all the more essential that all voices are heard and that Member States consider the very legitimate issues brought forward by representatives of civil society.

We stand here as members of civil society, and we believe the United Nations should be OUR United Nations too.

We call on the United Nations and on governments to make social dialogue a reality, to ensure that civil society, trade unions and NGO’s assume their rightful place in the process, and we submit that what has transpired at this year’s CSW must never occur again. Your Excellency, your recognition of the critical role of civil society in advancing women’s rights has been appreciated, and we look to you to address and remedy the grave concerns we are bringing forward to you today.

UNCSW Delegates from the International Trade Union Confederation, Public Services International, Education International, Union Network International