After months, years in fact, of lobbying, raising awareness and trying to describe Gender Entity to anyone outside the UN system, UN Women is born. Last Friday, the UN General Assembly, passed a resolution that finally gave birth to the bigger, brighter, long awaited for organisation. The UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, known as UN Women, brings together UNIFEM, DAW, OSAGI & INSTRAW* under one organisation.
It is hoped that the combination of the different functions will achieve greater impact, an increased attraction of resources, a strong and dynamic champion of women and girls providing them with a powerful voice at the global, regional and local levels.
Creating UN Women has not been without its problems. It is a part of a whole raft of reforms currently taking place in the UN to make it more efficient, effective and cost less. Delivering as One is a key aspect that has created much concern in developing nations of reduced UN country budgets. Some countries were holding out on agreeing the new gender entity until promises were made on budgets.
UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has been prominent in pushing forward gender issues in the UN. On the creation of UN Women he states, “I have made gender equality and the empowerment of women one of my top priorities — from working to end the scourge of violence against women, to appointing more women to senior positions, to efforts to reduce maternal mortality rates.’
So what will UN Women be doing? It has two key roles; it will support inter-governmental bodies such as the Commission on the Status of Women in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms, and it will help Member States to implement these standards, standing ready to provide suitable technical and financial support to those countries that request it, as well as forging effective partnerships with civil society. It will also help the UN system to be accountable for its own commitments on gender equality, including regular monitoring of system-wide progress.
The process for appointing an Under-Secretary General for UN Women is underway. Member states & civil society partners, can make suggestions of who they would like to head up this new organisation. It is hoped that the appointment will be made by September's General Assembly meeting.
UN Women, which will be operational by January 2011, has a huge task ahead of it. It needs our prayers. It needs our actions. In some cases, it needs our changed attitudes.
Check out the new website for further info www.unwomen.org
*DAW – Division on the Advancement of Women
OSAGI – Office of the Special Advisor on Gender Issues & Advancement of Women
INSTRAW – International research & Training Institute for the Advancement of Women
UNIFEM – United Nations Development Fund for Women