The Commission on the Status of Women was created in 1946 as a subsidiary body of ECOSOC with the aim of supporting the equality goals of the UN Charter. The commission first met in 1947 with 15 members and has been expanded to include 45 members; each is elected to fouryear terms. It monitors the situation of women worldwide; promotes women's rights in all societies; makes recommendations on issues affecting women; and suggests policy goals for UN member states. The commission, which is empowered to receive complaints on violations of the rights of individual women or groups of women, formulates guidelines on actions to improve women's status in the economic, political and social fields. It is currently the central monitoring body of implementation of the platform for action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing (China) in 1995.
The platform reaffirms that the human rights of women and the girl child are inalienable, integral and an indivisible part of universal human rights. It reviews progress since the 1985 World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the UN Decade for Women, which adopted the Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women to the Year 2000. The platform also establishes the priority actions to be carried out over the next five years, and it identifies 12 critical areas of concern in depth: poverty, education, health, violence against women, armed conflict, economic structures, power sharing and.decision making, mechanisms to promote the advancement of women, human rights, the media, the environment, and the girl child.