RightsTech Women Progresses towards United Nations ECOSOC Status

A Milestone in RTW’s Institutional Development

Geneva, 10 February 2023

Two seated women shake hands.
Credit: George Milton (Pexels)

The United Nations has a body called the Economic and Social Council, or ECOSOC for short. ECOSOC is one of the six main organs of the United Nations and brings countries together to advance the goals of the UN and its member States. The meetings of ECOSOC and its sub-bodies and their mechanisms take place at some different meeting places of the UN, such as the New York headquarters (where the UN General Assembly and Security Council meet) and at the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG, the UN’s European headquarters).

ECOSOC has several sub-bodies and some of those even have sub-bodies or sub-mechanisms all established under the bigger umbrella of ECOSOC. One of the sub-bodies of ECOSOC is the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (sometimes called the NGO Committee for short), which approves NGOs that can participate in meetings requiring NGOs who attend to have what’s called consultative status. The members of the ECOSOC NGO Committee are UN member States who get onto that Committee. There are some different kinds of this consultative status, for example, general consultative status, or special consultative status.

When an NGO has ECOSOC consultative status, this helps it to be able to participate in some of these meetings and processes between governments and other stakeholders, that are not open to the public but are restricted to NGOs having this consultative status. And when an NGO has this status, it is helpful for conducting advocacy to maximize the good outcomes from relevant processes, and good levels of civil society participation (the people affected).

RightsTech Women applied for ECOSOC special consultative status in order to participate in UN meetings and mechanisms requiring NGOs to have ECOSOC status. In this way, RTW can reach governments and other stakeholders directly in relevant meetings and processes concerning or affecting the equal representation of girls and women in STEM education and employment.

There was a delay in consideration by the NGO Committee of NGOs’ ECOSOC status applications linked to COVID-19. Sessions meant to be held in 2021 were pushed to be held later in 2021 and this delay had a knock-on effect.

On 24 January 2023, the NGO Committee approved RTW (and other NGOs) for special consultative status. This decision of the NGO Committee should be adopted at a meeting of the ECOSOC management committee on 7-8 June 2023. RTW will have further updates when available.

Meanwhile, RTW notes that it is in progress of achieving a significant milestone in its institutional development. The RTW team is working now to develop RTW’s advocacy program in order to advance equal representation of girls and women in STEM education and employment by 2030.

For more information, see ‘Continuing Its 2023 Resumed Session, Non-Governmental Organizations Committee Recommends 69 Groups for Consultative Status, Defers Action on 87 Others’ (24 January 2023), available at https://press.un.org/en/2023/ngo948.doc.htm.

For more information about applying for NGO consultative status, see information from the UN NGO Branch, available at https://csonet.org/.

Article edited on 2 March 2023 to reflect new information on adoption of the decision.