UN joins forces for women

01 Aug 2010

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“Where women are educated and empowered, economies are more productive and strong. Where women are fully represented, societies are more peaceful and stable” said Secretary-General in his statement on July 2nd welcoming UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

New Horizons - This new entity will be the lead driver and lead voice advocating for gender equality and women’s empowerment globally, supporting Member States to advance gender equality in line with national priorities and international norms and policies.

Gender inequalities remain deeply entrenched in every society. Women lack access to decent work and face occupational segregation and gender wage gaps. They are too often denied access to basic education and health care. Women in all parts of the world suffer violence and discrimination. They are under-represented in political and economic decision-making processes.

As part of the UN reform agenda, UN member states took a historic step in accelerating the Organization’s goals on gender equality and the empowerment of women at the 64th General Assembly where it was agreed to merge and build on the important work of four previously distinct parts of the UN system. The Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI) and United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), which focus exclusively on gender equality and women’s empowerment will work towards the elimination of discrimination against women and girls, empowerment of women achievement of equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, and humanitarian action.

Building effective partnerships with civil society and mobilizing political and financial support, UN Women will support the achievement of international goals for women. It will provide substantive support to UN bodies on all aspects of gender equality issues and work with UN partners at the regional and country levels to ensure that demand for technical expertise from national partners and regional organizations are met.

At the country level UN Women will provide technical and financial support to national partners, helping them develop the ability to address their priority challenges. UN Women will also support UN Country Teams to strengthen and coordinate action on gender equality. The creation of UN Women will contribute to an enhanced and coordinated UN response to country-defined needs and priorities, to enable the UN system to work in a more effective, collaborative and coherent way.

The year 2010 represents an important moment to reflect on progress, as it marks the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action at the Fourth World Conference on Women (1995), and the 10th anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. Ten years have also passed since the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were launched. While MDG 3 focuses on promoting gender equality and empowering women, there is now broad recognition that gender equality is both a goal in itself, as well as a means towards the achievement of all the MDGs.

The work of UN Women will be framed by the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which marked its 30th anniversary in 2009. The Convention provides the basis for realizing equality between women and men, and an agenda for action by States parties to guarantee the enjoyment of those rights. As of June 2010, 186 countries are party to the Convention.

UN Women will be funded largely by both voluntary contributions and the regular UN budget. At least US$500 million — double the current combined budget of DAW, INSTRAW, OSAGI, and UNIFEM — has been recognized by Member States as the minimum investment needed for UN Women. The new entity will be operational by January 2011.