The GEO coordinates, negotiates and presents the UK positions on gender, LGB&T and equality issues within the European Union, United Nations, Commonwealth and Council of Europe. It also works to fulfill the UK’s international commitments and promotes best practice and statutory compliance on gender and equality issues, including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGB&T), across a range of international and regional institutions.

United Nations

The UK participates in international inter-governmental mechanisms for the advancement of women and gender equality, and has signed up to relevant international commitments, including the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and its Optional Protocol, and the non-binding Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action for Women. The GEO liaises across UK Government departments on these commitments, follows up on their implementation, and coordinates cross-Ministerial reporting to the UN.

European Union

The GEO engages with various EU institutions, including the European Commission and the Council of the European Union, contributing to the development of common standards and regulations to protect UK interests and promotes best practices related to gender equality.

Council of Europe

The UK is a member of the Council of Europe and participates in its Steering Committee for Equality between Women and Men (CDEG). The GEO works to co-ordinate, negotiate and present UK positions within the CDEG in areas such as violence against women, political representation and tackling the pay gap. These negotiations in turn inform the Council of Europe’s Council of Ministers.


As a member of the Commonwealth, the UK supports the strategy of gender mainstreaming and the related Commonwealth Gender Plan of Action (2005-2015). The GEO works across the UK Government to implement its commitments on the Gender Plan of Action. It also liaises across government to co-ordinate, negotiate and present the UK positions on gender equality, including the Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting (WAMM) and the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting (CHOGM).