United Nations

SIGBI Special Consultative Status at the UN ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council)

Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI) can proudly say that it is an Organisation in Category 2 Status with the Economic and Social Council since 2013.

Soroptimist International (SI), the umbrella organisation has held General UN Consultative status since 1984. The Federation of Soroptimist International Europe (SIE) has held Special UN Consultative status since 2011.

Consultative status provides non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with access to not only ECOSOC, but also to its many subsidiary bodies, as well as special events organised by the President of the General Assembly (for example CSW the Commission on the Status of Women).

Soroptimist International (SI), the global women’s organisation, is recognised by the UN for the work that is carried out by its members from around the world. SI, SIE and SIGBI are all required to submit a quadrennial report to ECOSOC every four years showing the organisations’ contribution to the work of the UN e.g. towards the Millennium Development Goals.

Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) takes place in New York each March for two weeks.  SIGBI have 20 places allocated as a result of our Status 2, and each year the delegation attends and runs workshops and works towards the Agreed Conclusions.

Members of the delegation provide daily blogs during this period, so do look out for the news item each March and see what Soroptimists are doing in New York.

Head of UN Women – Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

On 10 July 2013 – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka from South Africa as the new Executive Director of UN Women, the organization leading UN’s work on advancing gender equality and women’s rights.  For full details of the appointment and Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka’s first speech in the post click here.

UN Backgound

The UN was founded after World War 2 to prevent war, maintain international peace and security and promote social progress and better standards of life through friendly international co-operation.

Women at the UN

There have been some very exciting developments to the ways in which women’s issues are represented at the UN.  In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. In doing so, UN Member States took an historic step in accelerating the Organization’s goals on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The creation of UN Women merges and builds on the important work of four previously distinct parts of the UN system, which focused exclusively on gender equality and women’s empowerment:

  • Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW)
  • International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW)
  • Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI)
  • United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

The main roles of UN Women are:

  • To support inter-governmental bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms.
  • To help Member States to implement these standards, standing ready to provide suitable technical and financial support to those countries that request it, and to forge effective partnerships with civil society.
  • To hold the UN system accountable for its own commitments on gender equality, including regular monitoring of system-wide progress.

SI at the UN

United NationsSoroptimist International (SI) is active at the major UN centres in New York, Vienna, Geneva, Paris, Rome and Nairobi.  We hold General Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) who have their HQ in New York and official relations with UNESCO (Paris).

In seeking to advance SI programme, SI can be given accreditation with ECOSOC’s agencies and commissions and has the option to join Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) committees set up to work on specific topics or areas of concern. Soroptimist International has accreditation with:-

  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, since 1960
  • United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in New York, since 1966
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi

Because SI has General Consultative Status with ECOSOC, SI can apply for official relations with United Nations Specialised Agencies. Soroptimist International has been accepted by:-

  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Paris, Operational Relations
  • International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva, Special List
  • United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in Vienna, Consultative Status
  • Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in Rome, Formal Relations

Consultative Status allows us to attend meetings, commissions and conferences, submit written and verbal statements under agenda items of relevance and join in partnership with other NGOs to develop and submit collective statements. Through this, SI is able to advocate for policy change at a global level.

Soroptimist International recognises the following UN days:

  • 10th December – UN Day of Human Rights – marking the anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
  • 8th March – International Women’s Day
  • 21st September International Day of Peace

For full information about SI at the UN, please visit the members section of the SI website www.soroptimistinternational.org where you will find the new SI UN Manual. This contains information about the UN, what SI does at the UN, full listings of the agencies SI works with and information on the important UN events relating to women’s rights. The Manual can be found in the ‘General UN Information’ section.

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