Improvement of the status of women in the United Nations system: Report of the Secretary-General (2010)

Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 64/141, the present report provides information on the status of women in the United Nations system, including up-to-date statistics, information on progress made and obstacles encountered in achieving gender balance, and recommendations for accelerating progress.

Over the two-year reporting period, 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2009, the representation of women in the Professional and higher categories in the United Nations system increased marginally from 38.4 to 39.9 per cent, translating into an average increase of 0.75 per cent per annum. The highest and lowest representations of women were found at the P-2 and D-2 levels, at 57.4 and 26.0 per cent, respectively.

In response to a system-wide survey of United Nations entities on achieving gender balance the following challenges were noted: inadequate accountability, monitoring and enforcement mechanisms; lack of special measures for gender equality; weak integration of focal point systems; weak implementation of flexible working arrangements; insufficient outreach; and low numbers of qualified women applicants. As recommendations to address the stated challenges, the entities emphasized the need for senior leadership sponsorship, enhanced monitoring and accountability, and more rigorous implementation of existing policies, including special measures for women and flexible working arrangements.

Although there is heightened awareness of the imperative for gender balance, reversal of the negative trends at some levels and the slow pace for others requires urgent and intensified action and demonstrated leadership, mirroring that currently exercised for the ungraded level, where increases of 3.5 per cent in the United Nations system and 5.6 per cent (Under-Secretary-General) and 6.6 per cent (Assistant Secretary-General), respectively, in the United Nations Secretariat have set positive historical records.

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  • Annexes — download all in a ZIP archive or individually below:
    • Annex 1: Representation of women in the Professional and higher categories in the entities of the United Nations system at Headquarters (HQ) and Non- Headquarters (non-HQ), contracts of one year or more, 31 December 2007 and 31 December 2009
    • Annex 2: Representation of Women on Temporary Contract at Headquarters (HQ) and Non- Headquarters (non-HQ) by entity in the Professional and Higher Categories, as at 31 December 2009
    • Annex 3: Comparison of gender distribution of staff on contracts of one year or more in General Service and Field Service Categories in the United Nations system, at Headquarters and non-Headquarters locations, as at 31December 2009
    • Annex 4: Change in the representation of women in the United Nations entities for the period 2000–2009
    • Annex 5: Appointments of women in the Professional and higher categories in the entities of the United Nations system, at Headquarters (HQ) and Non-Headquarters (non-HQ) from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2009: contracts of one year or more (percentage and number of women)
    • Annex 6: Appointments of women in the Professional and higher categories in the entities of the United Nations system, at Headquarters (HQ) and Non-Headquarters (non-HQ) from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2009: Temporary Contracts (number and percentage of women)
    • Annex 7: Promotions of women in the Professional and higher categories in the entities of the United Nations System, at Headquarters (HQ) and Non-Headquarters (non-HQ), combined contracts of one year or more, 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2009
    • Annex 8: Separations of women in the Professional and higher categories in the entities of the United Nations system, 1 January 2008 – 31 December 2009 (number and percentage of women)
    • Annex 9: Percentage of Women separating compared to Percentage of total staff in the entities of the United Nations system listed in descending order, 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2009
    • Annex 10: Major Impediments to achieving gender parity at the P-4 to D-2 levels – OSAGI 2009 survey responses by United Nations entities
    • Annex 11: Policies and measures reported by entities toward improvement in the status of women in the entities of the United Nations system – OSAGI 2010 survey responses by United Nations entities

Bibliographic information

Subject area(s): Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment

Publication type: Institutional Reports

UN Women office involved in publication: UN Women Headquarters

Publication year: 2010

Number of pages: 53