Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), often also referred to as ‘civil society organisations’ and women’s organisations, are non-profit, voluntary citizens’ groups, principally independent from government, which are organised on a local, national or international level to address issues in support of the public good. NGOs are recognised as key third-sector actors within the landscapes of development, human rights, humanitarian action, gender equality, the environment, and many other areas of public action.
Women’s NGOs are best known for two different, but often interrelated, types of activity: the delivery of services to women in need, and the organisation of policy advocacy and public campaigns in pursuit of the social transformation required to achieve gender equality.
NGOs are also active in a wide range of other specialised roles such as parity democracy building, conflict resolution, policy analysis, research, and information provision. NGOs are essential partners of governments in the pursuit of gender equality. By presenting the views of their members on matters relevant to gender equality, making proposals or suggestions, cooperating in specific projects, pursuing research into substantive issues, or, in the context of the media, giving visibility and legitimacy to gender equality matters, NGOs have a role to play in the achievement of gender equality, one which must be valued and encouraged by states.
(1) Council of Europe (2007). Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)17 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on gender equality standards and mechanisms; (2) EIGE experts.