Committee Overview

Women’s rights have been a concern of the United Nations since 1945, when the United Nations Charter promised in its preamble “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.” At the very first UN General Assembly meeting in February 1946, Eleanor Roosevelt, a delegate from the United States, made a statement calling upon all governments to encourage women to take a more active role in political affairs at both national and international levels. That same month, following through on its promise to promote equal rights for women, a sub-commission dedicated to the status of women was founded under the auspices of the Commission on Human Rights. After the international community recognized the increasing importance of global women’s rights, the sub-commission gained full commission status under the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on 21 June 1946 through ECOSOC resolution 11(II), thus becoming the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The Commission’s original mandate was to “prepare recommendations and reports to the Economic and Social Council on promoting women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social, and educational fields” and to “make recommendations to the Council on urgent problems requiring immediate attention in the field of women’s rights.”

Topic A: Violence against Indigenous Women in the Amazon

Indigenous women and girls continue to face many challenges, such as discrimination and violence. While most women face these issues, they are far more common among Indigenous women. Communities in the Amazon, such as the Yanomami, are fighting epidemics of sexual violence, murder, and other gendered crimes. Sometimes, these issues come from within their communities. Child marriages are common in some communities, depriving women of a choice in their future. However, there are also foreign threats. Mining and forestry workers are often accused of kidnapping and violence against Indigenous women. Sadly, local governments and courts often fail to provide the justice these victims deserve. Such violence has long-term effects not just on the victims but also on entire communities that feel unsafe. In this committee, delegates will explore ways to encourage and protect the voices of these oppressed women.

Topic B: Legal Clothing Restrictions on Women

Dress codes are often based on gender roles and stereotypes about women. Sometimes, these dress codes are simply social expectations from others. However, dress codes can also be codified in the law. These laws dictate what women can wear to school, work, and sometimes in all public places. In different countries, these laws might force women to wear more or less clothing than they are comfortable wearing. For example, strict clothing laws in Afghanistan require modest attire, and many women wear burqas. However, in 16 countries, the burqa is banned in all public spaces. In both cases, women are not allowed to make some decisions about their clothing. Even when there are no laws against certain outfits, social pressure might still limit women’s clothing choices. In this session, the CSW will consider how these dress codes affect women and how they exercise their basic human rights.