Women’s Meaningful Participation in the UN System

Our initiative “Ensuring Women’s Meaningful Participation in the UN System” is about illuminating the importance of women participating in political processes and peace agreements around the world. Half the population of this world is women, and to secure development that takes their experiences, knowledge and insight into account, it is important that women have the same influence on societal issues as men have.

It was initiated shortly after 21 January 2017, when the US Administration – a UN host state – issued an executive order banning people from first seven, then six countries (Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen). This happened just in advance of the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which was scheduled to take place in New York in March 2017. WILPF had at that point already delivered a statement to the CSW and established a delegation of women peace advocates from mainly the MENA countries.

We quickly realised that our delegation would not be able to enter the US – and we also realised that the US travel ban just illuminated a already well-known and serious strcututal problem for the UN: The shrinking space of women’s voices at the UN.

As a response to the travel ban WILPF decided to not formally engage in the CSW61, and we also started the initiative “Ensuring Women’s Meaningful Participation in the UN System” in order to guide the UN away from the slippery slope and back to its charter.

13-24 March 2017

In solidarity with the women denied access to the UN, WILPF International decided not to participate in the formal Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) process. Other organisations decided to do the same with in order to expose the ways in which state policies serve to undermine the human rights of women and girls. WILPF shared an open letter to ambassadors in New York and Geneva, worked with our grassroots network and partners to raise awareness of #MissingVoices at the CSW61 in diverse spaces. In the wake of the issues at the CSW61 we also decided to move our activities to Geneva and to have a Convening highlighting the problems that arise when women are denied meaningful participation.

20 April 2017

On 20 April 2017, WILPF had a Tweetathon in collaboration with The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID). Here we engaged a number of civil society and women’s organisations to discuss the issues they face in the UN systems and how to make the UN more inclusive. Using the hashtags #MissingVoices and #MeaningfulParticipation we sprawled great conversations in the twittersphere and gained insight into the many different UN-issues faced by women’s rights and peace activists around the world.

26-28 April 2017

In April 2017, WILPF held a convening on how to #ReclaimUN and make sure women’s voices are heard within the UN. We gathered 150 women’s rights and peace activists, incl. a large delegation from the MENA region, to discuss how we can make the UN more inclusive and make sure it lives up to its charter.

Out of the panel discussions, plenary sessions and debates came a number of highly relevant recommendations on how to make the UN more inclusive.

3 October 2017

On 3 October 2017, WILPF held an informal, Chatham house rules meeting, in Geneva with representatives from UN Member States, UN agencies and programmes and a number of representatives from civil society organisations. The recommendations from the Convening in April was presented, and an enriching discussion on how to ensure women’s meaningful participation in the UN system took place.


Video: Ensuring Women’s Meaningful Participation in the UN System (Full English subtitles)



Download the booklet “How UN agencies and Programmes can ensure women’s meaningful participation in their work” and the factsheet for UN agencies and programmes



Download the booklet “What member state can do to ensure women’s meaningful participation to the UN system” and the factsheet for UN Member States





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