UN Women - United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

Reports and Monitoring

UN Women regularly conducts research and collects data to measure progress in the status of women in the UN system. This enables us to identify challenges and monitor the effectiveness of actions being taken. Findings are used to update inter-agency bodies and UN entities, and help shape the support that we provide to them in achieving gender parity. Key activities to gather information include the following.

Secretary-General’s Report

Every two years, UN Women assists in preparing the UN Secretary-General’s Report on the Improvement of the Status of Women. This provides up-to-date information on the proportion of female appointments, promotions and separations for every UN entity and the system as a whole. The data are used to identify trends by staff level, location (headquarters and non-headquarters) and contract type (permanent, fixed term and temporary). The report also examines policies and practices among entities, and analyses key impediments to progress.

The report and its recommendations are presented to the General Assembly’s Third Committee and the Commission on the Status of Women. They inform debates and resolutions that continue shaping the ways the United Nations works to advance the status of women.

See past reports and web annexes.

UN System-wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

The UN System-wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-SWAP) provides measures for the UN system to assess progress on gender-related work, including gender parity in-house. Three indicators in particular help to shape a common understanding of the route to gender parity and the minimum requirements each entity is expected to meet. They facilitate analysis of strengths and weaknesses, and identification of necessary resources and capacities.

The indicators comprise:

  • Entities have attained equal representation of women at the P-4 level and above, including at the most senior levels of representation, in field offices, committees and funds linked to the entity, and at the general service level;
  • Gender balance focal points or the equivalent at the headquarters, regional and country levels are appointed from staff at the P-4 level and above; have written terms of reference and at least 20 per cent of their time allocated to focal point functions; and specific funds are allocated to support focal point networking; and
  • Organizational culture fully supports the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women through the promulgation and implementation of appropriate gender-relevant policies and practices; and senior managers demonstrate leadership and public championing of the equal representation of women.


Regular exit interviews and surveys of staff help provide important insights into organizational culture, reasons for separation and remedial measures. The qualitative experience of both female staff and those responsible for improving the status of women are key to understanding how to improve opportunities for career advancement and prevent discrimination.

The UN Focal Point for Women conducts staff surveys on issues related to gender balance. For example, a 2010 survey on work-life balance revealed a lack of awareness about flexible work arrangements but a high level of interest in their use. This led to an expert group meeting on the policies, practices and potential of work-life integration. It issued a proposed work-life strategy and action plan for the UN system, after which a number of entities piloted new flexible work arrangements.

Expert group meetings

UN Women convenes expert group meetings to explore the latest cutting-edge research and policy developments on the equal representation of women. The meetings provide important opportunities to discuss the many challenges that exist and to learn from the good practice of stakeholders and partners. The latest ones focused on work-life integration and gender-based violence in the workplace.