It is important to remember with The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) that the focus is on global change and global policy. How countries interpret the Agreed Conclusions and CSW Resolutions occurs at the national level, taking into consideration all other national laws, policies and procedures.
There are three main ways to attend CSW. These are:
- as an NGO representative accredited by an ECOSOC accredited organisation
- as an NGO delegate with the Australian Government delegation, or
- as a guest speaker or Expert Group member for one or more of the UN Panels or Side Events.
Representatives attending CSW should have a clear understanding about why they are there and who they represent. Whether you are an NGO representative accredited by your organisation, or host organisation, an NGO representative with a government delegation, or as a guest speaker or Expert Group member, it is imperative you are aware of your responsibilities as a representative, including who you can speak to and what you can speak on.
Prior to departure to CSW, the Australian Government Office for Women briefs the NGO delegates on the Australian Government Delegation on the framework and their responsibilities at CSW.
For NGOs attending CSW for the first time, this may be confusing, as you may be representing one organisation from your country that represents a specific theme or issue. It is important if this is the case that you are clear you are representing one organisation that works on that issue/theme, as operating in an international arena, unless you carry the mandate of all national organisations working on this issue/theme you cannot speak for those organisations. It is therefore key for NGO representatives to be able to clearly state who they speak for in presentations, workshops and advocacy. In some cases the processes leading up to CSW may be fraught, with consultations, roundtables, teleconferences etc. in order to get a joint position moving forward into CSW.
Many NGOs with global membership such as Business and Professional Women (BPW), Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), have national, regional and international processes in place for representation at international forums.
Apart from the representation of your NGO, you are also an Australian in an international arena. Australia is a diverse and multi-cultural country. We are a country of Indigenous, migrant, refugee and settled peoples. It is important to recognise this and to present a fair view of the peoples of Australia. It is okay to not know the answer to a question, and if applicable, to refer to another representative from an Australian NGO or on the Australian Government delegation.