After three years of extensive consultations, the UN General Assembly, on 14 September, adopted a resolution that takes the next step in the process that seeks to establish a new United Nations entity focused on the rights of women.
Four United Nations agencies and offices will be amalgamated to create a new single entity within the Organization to promote the rights and well-being of women worldwide and to work towards gender equality.
The General Assembly adopted a resolution late yesterday on improving system-wide coherence within the UN, and the text spells out the support of Member States for a new consolidated body – to be headed by an under-secretary-general – to deal with issues concerning women.
The resolution means the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the UN Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues (OSAGI) and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) will be merged.
In a statement issued today by his spokesperson, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was “particularly gratified” that the Assembly had accepted his proposal for “a more robust promotion” of women’s rights under the new entity.
“An important step has been made in strengthening the United Nations’ work in the area of gender equality and empowerment of women, as well as in ensuring the effective delivery of its operational activities for development, which constitutes the other key components of the resolution,” the statement noted.
Mr. Ban said in the statement that he had appointed more women to senior posts than at any other time in the history of the UN, including nine women to the rank of under-secretary-general. The number of women in senior posts has increased by 40 per cent under his tenure.
The Assembly’s resolution tasks Mr. Ban with providing Member States with a comprehensive proposal outlining the mission statement, structure, funding and oversight of the new entity so that it can be created as soon as possible.
The Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR) Coalition, led by the Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO) and the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL), consists of over 300 women’s organizations across the world, has been campaigning for greater recognition of gender within the United Nations system since 2006. It was officially launched as the GEAR campaign in February 2008 during the 52nd session of the CSW.
In a statement released Monday, GEAR said: “We urge Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to immediately begin the recruitment process for appointing a strong leader grounded in women’s rights and gender equality as the USG who will lead this process of consolidating the four existing entities.”
“We expect a broad, open search process to start promptly so that the USG is in place and the entity can be operational by the time of the Beijing + 15 Review at the Commission on the Status of Women in March of 2010.”
The coalition also said that Member States must address in a timely fashion all the outstanding issues required for the entity to begin operations, including the mechanisms for governance and oversight. Furthermore, donor countries need to pledge the substantial funding (about one billion dollars) to support the proposed strong field operation that the entity must have to be successful in fulfilling the promises made by governments and the UN to the world’s women.
“As civil society has always played a vital role in the UN’s work on women’s rights, we urge Member States and the Secretary-General to commit to systematic and on-going participation of civil society, particularly women’s organizations, in every state of the process at global, regional, national, and local levels including in the governing board,” the coalition said.
“This is an important and crucial step forward now it must be made operational without further delay,” the coalition declared.