Improvement in the status of women in the United Nations system: Report of the Secretary-General (2017)

Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 70/133, the present report (A/72/220) covers the status of women in the United Nations system for the period from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2015. Since the previous reporting period (1 January 2012 to 31 December 2013), the representation of women in the Professional and higher categories in the United Nations system has increased from 41.6 to 42.8 per cent.

The inverse relationship between seniority and the representation of women, however, continues to persist, culminating in a low of 26.8 per cent at the highest level (ungraded). The representation of women stands highest at the entry levels, namely P-1 and P-2, and these levels also registered the largest increases of 5 and 1 percentage points, respectively, since the previous reporting period. Representation of women at the P-3 level remained at 45 per cent; at the P-4 and P-5 levels, it increased by 2 percentage points each; and at the D-1 and D-2 levels, it increased by 1 percentage point each, although the absolute number of women decreased. At the ungraded level, it remained at 27 per cent, despite a marginal increase in the number of women. Owing to frequent plateauing and regressions over the course of 2005–2015, the average annual increment for the aggregate Professional and higher categories was only 0.6 percentage points.

In order to address the slow and uneven progress made to date, the recommendations set out in the present report include the need for heads of entities to prioritize action in this regard; more rigorous implementation of existing policies by senior managers; special measures; enhanced monitoring and accountability; career and capacity development; and harmonization of gender-related policies. An enabling environment is vital to attracting, advancing and retaining qualified women in the United Nations and requires gender-sensitive policies and practices on staff selection, work-life balance and career development.

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  • Report (ar, en, es, fr, ru, zh)
  • Annexes — download all in a ZIP archive or individually below:
    • Annex I: Sex distribution of United Nations system staff at the P-1 to UG levels, on fixed/permanent/continuous appointments, by entity, level and location, as of 31 December 2015
    • Annex II: Sex distribution of United Nations Secretariat staff at the P-1 to UG levels, on fixed/permanent/continuous appointments, at all locations, by department, as of 31 December 2015
    • Annex III: Sex distribution of United Nations system staff at the P-1 to UG levels, on fixed/permanent/continuous appointments, at all locations, by nationality, as of 31 December 2015
    • Annex IV: Average age of United Nations system staff at the P-1 to UG levels, on fixed/permanent/continuous appointments, at all locations, as of 31 December 2015
    • Annex V: Sex distribution of United Nations system staff at the P-1 to UG levels, on temporary appointments, by entity, level and location, as of 31 December 2015
    • Annex VI: Projections for the attainment of gender parity at the P-1 to UG levels based on the average annual increment between 31 December 2005 and 31 December 2015, for staff on fixed/permanent/continuous appointments, at all locations, for the United Nations system and United Nations Secretariat,
    • Annex VII: 2016 POLNET (Political, Peace and Humanitarian Network) Staff Selections under the United Nations Secretariat’s new policy (ST/AI/2016/1), at the P-2 to D-2 levels, by sex
    • Annex VIII: Sex distribution of appointments of United Nations system staff at the P-1 to UG levels, on fixed/permanent/continuous appointments, by entity, location and level, for the period 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2015
    • Annex IX: Sex distribution of career advancements of United Nations system staff to the P-1 to D-2 levels, on fixed/permanent/continuous appointments, by entity, location and level, for the period 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2015
    • Annex X: Sex distribution of separations of United Nations system staff at the P-1 to UG levels, on fixed/permanent/continuous appointments, by entity, location and level, for the period 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2015
    • Annex XI: Sex distribution of reasons for separations by United Nations system staff at the P-1 to UG levels, on fixed/permanent/continuous appointments, for the period 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2015
    • Annex XII: Gender Focal Points and Focal Points for Women
    • Annex XIII: Leadership and Mentoring Programme
    • Annex XIV: Status of women in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support (DPKO/DFS)
    • Annex XV: Field Mission Leadership in Peacekeeping and DFS Missions as of 31 December 2014 and 31 December 2016

Bibliographic information

Subject area(s): UN system coordination; Women in the UN system; Accountability in the UN system; Monitoring, evaluation and reporting; Gender equality and women’s empowerment; Gender mainstreaming

Resource type: Institutional reports

UN Women office involved in publication: UN Women Headquarters

Publication year: 2017

Number of pages: 28 + annexes

Publishing entities: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)

Governing bodies: UN General Assembly