|Formation||2 July 2010|
|Headquarters||New York City, United States|
The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, also known as UN Women, is a United Nations entity working for the empowerment of women.
UN Women became operational in January 2011.President of Chile Michelle Bachelet was the inaugural Executive Director, and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is the current Executive Director. As with UNIFEM previously, UN Women is a member of the United Nations Development Group.
In response to the UN General Assembly resolution 63/311, in January 2010 the Secretary-General presented the report A/64/588, entitled Comprehensive Proposal for the Composite Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. In his report, the Secretary-General resolved that, rather than relieving other parts of the United Nations system of their responsibility for contributing to the promotion of gender equality and women's empowerment, the new entity should seek to sharpen the focus and impact of the gender equality activities of the entire United Nations system. Additionally, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon estimated that approximately $125 million per annum were needed for operating costs and "start-up" capacity at the country, regional, and headquarters levels. Moreover, an additional $375 million per annum were needed in the initial phase to respond to country level requests for programmatic support.
After years of negotiations between UN member states, women's groups, and civil society, on 2 July 2010 the General Assembly unanimously adopted the resolution 64/289, thus creating UN Women by merging the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW); the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW, established in 1976); the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI, established in 1997), and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM, established in 1976). Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced at the founding of the movement that he is "grateful to Member States for having taken this major step forward for the world's women and girls. UN Women will significantly boost UN efforts to promote gender equality, expand opportunity, and tackle discrimination around the globe."
On 14 September 2010, it was announced that former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet was appointed as head of UN Women.Various countries supported the creation of the body and welcomed Bachelet as chief. During General Debate at the opening of the 65th General Assembly of the United Nations, world leaders commended the creation of the body and its intention to "empower women", as well as welcoming Bachelet's position as the inaugural head. On 11 March 2011, John Hendra of Canada and Lakshmi Puri of India were appointed as first Deputy Executive Directors at the level of UN Assistant Secretary-General.
The provisions set forth by resolution 63/311 on system-wide coherence, adopted by the General Assembly on 2 October 2010, constituted the blueprint for UN Women. Seeking to strengthen the United Nation's institutional arrangements for gender equality and women empowerment, resolution 63/311 supported the consolidation of four distinct parts of the UN system that focused exclusively on gender equality and women's empowerment into a composite entity to be led by an Under-Secretary-General. Moreover, the resolution requested that the Secretary-General produce a proposal specifying the mission statement of the composite entity and its organizational arrangements, including an organizational chart, funding, and the executive board to oversee its operational activities.
The actress Melania Dalla Costa is testimonial for the 2019 United Nations (UNICRI) campaign ‘I am no longer myself’ against violence towards women, to be held on the November 25th International Day for the elimination of violence against women. The campaign was handled by photographer Dimitri Dimitracacos.
Resolution 64/289 determined that the entity should be headed by an Under-Secretary-General, to be appointed by the Secretary-General in consultation with member states, for a term of four years, with the possibility of renewal for one term.
The organization is governed by a multi-tiered intergovernmental governance structure in charge of providing normative and operational policy guidance. The General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, and the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) constitute the governance structure that sets forth the normative policy guiding principles of the Entity. The intergovernmental governance structure in charge of providing operational policy guidance to UN Women includes the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the organization's Executive Board. The latter consist of forty-one members, elected by the Economic and Social Council for a term of three years and distributed as follows:
The resources required to fund all normative processes are obtained from the Entity's regular budget and approved by the General Assembly, whereas the budget for service operational processes and activities at all levels are funded from voluntary contributions and approved by the Executive Board of UN Women.
The 2020 Executive Board consists of:
The mandate and functions of UN Women consist of the consolidated mandates and functions of the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, the Division for the Advancement of Women, the United Nations Development Fund for Women, and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women. In addition, the entity must lead, coordinate, and promote the accountability of the United Nations system in its work on gender equality and women's empowerment. The goal of UN Women is to "enhance, not replace, efforts by other parts of the UN system (such as UNICEF, UNDP, and UNFPA), which will continue to have a responsibility to work for gender equality and women's empowerment in their areas of expertise."
In accordance with the provisions of resolution 64/289, UN Women will work within the framework of the UN Charter and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, including its twelve critical areas of concern and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, as well as other applicable UN instruments, standards and resolutions that address gender equality and the empowerment and advancement of women.
UN Women's main thematic areas of work include:
In late 2013, a series of ads, developed as a creative idea for UN Women by Ogilvy & Mather, used genuine Google searches to reveal the widespread prevalence of sexism and discrimination against womenThe ads featured the faces of four women and where their mouths should be were Google auto-complete suggestions. The suggestions were all sexist or misogynist. A similar campaign was also run to raise awareness for gay rights.
Also in late 2013, UN Women launched a constitutional database that examines constitutions through a gender lens. The first of its kind, this database maps the principles and rules that guarantee, deny, or protect the rights of wome n and girls around the world. This tool for gender equality and human rights activists is annually updated and searchable, and provides a comprehensive overview of the current status of provisions relevant to women's rights and gender equality across various countries throughout the world. Users can search though the database by keyword, and legal provisions are grouped into 16 categories that were carefully defined by reviewing the constitutions from a human rights perspective.
UN Women is one of the lead agencies in coordinating International Women's Day eventsas well as the Commission on the Status of Women.
The year 2015 has marked a number of significant milestones, such as the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action,which was the focus of the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59) from 9–20 March 2015, where global leaders took stock of progress and remaining challenges for implementing this landmark agreement for gender equality and women's rights. UN Women played an active role in major intergovernmental negotiations and processes including the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa in July 2015, the outcome of which was strong on the need to adequately fund gender equality and incorporate it in development planning, as well as the negotiations and successful adoption of the new post-2015 development agenda on 25 September 2015. The new global development roadmap includes a stand-alone goal on gender equality and women's empowerment (Sustainable Development Goal 5), and mainstreams these priorities throughout all 17 goals.
UN Women is empowered to:
The United Nations Secretariat is one of the six major organs of the United Nations, with the others being (a) the General Assembly; (b) the Security Council; (c) the Economic and Social Council; (d) the defunct Trusteeship Council; and (e) the International Court of Justice. The Secretariat is the United Nations' executive arm. The Secretariat has an important role in setting the agenda for the deliberative and decision-making bodies of the UN, and the implementation of the decision of these bodies. The Secretary-General, who is appointed by the General Assembly, is the head of the secretariat.
Gender equality, also known as sexual equality or equality of the sexes, is the state of equal ease of access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender, including economic participation and decision-making; and the state of valuing different behaviors, aspirations and needs equally, regardless of gender.
The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is an international treaty adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly. Described as an international bill of rights for women, it was instituted on 3 September 1981 and has been ratified by 189 states. Over fifty countries that have ratified the Convention have done so subject to certain declarations, reservations, and objections, including 38 countries who rejected the enforcement article 29, which addresses means of settlement for disputes concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention. Australia's declaration noted the limitations on central government power resulting from its federal constitutional system. The United States and Palau have signed, but not ratified the treaty. The Holy See, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, and Tonga are not signatories to CEDAW.
The United Nations Development Fund for Women was established in December 1976 originally as the Voluntary Fund for the United Nations Decade for Women in the International Women's Year. Its first director was Margaret C. Snyder. UNIFEM provided financial and technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategies that promoted women's human rights, political participation and economic security. Since 1976 it supported women's empowerment and gender equality through its programme offices and links with women's organizations in the major regions of the world. Its work on gender responsive budgets began in 1996 in Southern Africa and expanded to include East Africa, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central America and the Andean region. It worked to increase awareness throughout the UN system of gender responsive budgets as a tool to strengthen economic governance in all countries. In 2011, UNIFEM merged into UN Women.
The Commission on the Status of Women is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), one of the main UN organs within the United Nations. CSW has been described as the UN organ promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. Every year, representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide. In April 2017, ECOSOC elected 13 new members to CSW for a four-year term 2018–2022. One of the new members is Saudi Arabia, which has been criticised for its treatment of women.
The United Nations General Assembly has designated November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The premise of the day is to raise awareness of the fact that women around the world are subject to rape, domestic violence and other forms of violence; furthermore, one of the aims of the day is to highlight that the scale and true nature of the issue is often hidden. For 2014, the official Theme framed by the UN Secretary-General’s campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women, is Orange your Neighbourhood. For 2018, the official theme is "Orange the World:#HearMeToo", for 2019 it is "Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape" and for 2020 it is "Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!".
The Fourth World Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace was the name given for a conference convened by the United Nations during 4–15 September 1995 in Beijing, China.
Angela Evelyn Vernon King was a Jamaican diplomat. She worked for the United Nations for 38 years, from 1966 to 2004, working mainly for equal rights for women. She was appointed Assistant Secretary-General for gender issues in 1997, remaining in that post until she retired in 2004.
International Women's Year (IWY) was the name given to 1975 by the United Nations. Since that year March 8 has been celebrated as International Women's Day, and the United Nations Decade for Women, from 1976 to 1985, was also established.
The United Nations Decade for Women was a period from 1975 to 1985 focused on the policies and issues that impact women, such as pay equity, gendered violence, land holding, and other human rights. It was adopted December 15, 1975, by the United Nations General Assembly by Resolution 31/136.
The Center for Women's Global Leadership, based at Rutgers University, was founded in 1989 by Charlotte Bunch, the former executive director and an internationally renowned activist for women's human rights. Executive Director Krishanti Dharmaraj is also the founder of the Dignity Index and co-founder of WILD for Human Rights and the Sri Lanka Children's Fund. The former executive director, Radhika Balakrishnan, is now the faculty director, and a professor in the Department of Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers, chair of the Board of the US Human Rights Network, and a board member of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Located on Douglass Residential College at Rutgers University, CWGL is a unit of International Programs within the School of Arts and Sciences and is a member of the Institute for Women's Leadership, a consortium of women's programs at Rutgers.
United Nations Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict a cross-UN initiative that unites the work of 14 United Nations entities with the goal of ending sexual violence in conflict. The inter-agency network is composed of 14 UN entities from a spectrum sectors including peacekeeping, political affairs, justice, human rights, humanitarian, health, gender equality and women's empowerment. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General Pramila Patten chairs the network which represents a concerted effort by the United Nations to improve coordination and accountability, amplify programming and advocacy, and support national efforts to prevent sexual violence and respond effectively to the needs of survivors. The UN Action Secretariat is based in the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Dr. Noeleen Heyzer is a Singaporean social scientist who was Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). She was the first woman to hold the latter position since ESCAP's founding in 1947. She is currently Lee Kong Chian Distinguished Fellow at the SMU School of Social Sciences. She was also the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Timor-Leste, working to support peace-building, state-building, and sustainable development. In 2005, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her struggle to improve the lives of women, while always promoting peace and justice.
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The Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR) Campaign was a network of over 300 women's, human rights and social justice groups around the world. The GEAR campaign urged UN Member States and the UN Secretariat to move swiftly forward to create a new UN gender equality entity. GEAR also urgeds the UN to set up a transparent process now for recruiting the best qualified Under Secretary-General to head this agency. The United Nations must move without further delay to implement changes that it has repeatedly recognized as critical to fulfilling its mandate of working for gender equality as a crucial component of development, human rights, peace, and security.
John Hendra recently established his own consulting practice after retiring from a dynamic 32 year United Nations career as a development leader in both Headquarters and the field. Hendra recently served as a member of the High-Level Group to review the governance of The Commonwealth and is currently serving on: the Advisory Council to Canada's Development Finance Institution ; on the board of Women Deliver Canada; and as an Associate Researcher with the German Development Institute (GDI). JD Hendra Strategic Consulting provides strategic advice in, and brings demonstrated experience to: strategic positioning around sustainable development and the SDGs; leadership for transformative change; complex multi-stakeholder facilitation; gender equality and women's empowerment; reform of multilateral organizations and multilateral financing.
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