Mainstreaming a Gender Perspective into UN Policies and Programmes

Date : 13 July 2011

Speech delivered by UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet at the ECOSOC Substantive Session, Geneva, 13 July 2011.

[Check against delivery.]

Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour to address the Economic and Social Council on the agenda item, “Mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system.

When the General Assembly created UN Women in July 2010, it decided to transfer to the new entity, the mandates and functions of the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI), the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) — with the additional role of leading, coordinating and promoting accountability of the United Nations system in its work on gender equality and the empowerment of women. The General Assembly also decided that support of gender mainstreaming across the United Nations system would be an integral part of the work of the new entity.

The establishment of UN Women and its work is expected to lead to more effective coordination, coherence and gender mainstreaming across the United Nations system. Therefore, in its founding resolution 64/289, the General Assembly also decided that UN Women should provide — through its normative support functions and operational activities — guidance and technical support to all Member States at their request, on gender mainstreaming, gender equality and the empowerment and rights of women and girls. UN Women should operate as part of the Resident Coordinator system, working within United Nations country teams, leading and coordinating the work on gender equality and the empowerment of women, under the overall leadership of the Resident Coordinator. UN Women is also expected to establish concrete results-based reporting mechanisms, and ensure consistency and coordination between the normative and operational aspects of its work. We aim to achieve universal coverage through strategic cost-effective presence and recognize that voluntary un-earmarked funding to UN Women is reserved for developing countries only.

UN Women's overarching vision is that of a world in which societies are free of gender-based discrimination, where women and men have equal opportunities; a world where the economic and social potential of women and girls is ensured so that they can lead the changes that they want to see. This vision is that of a world where gender equality and the empowerment of women are achieved and where women's rights are upheld in all efforts to achieving development, human rights, peace and security.

UN Women stands ready to support the UN system in honouring its responsibility to deliver on gender equality and the empowerment of women. A UN system responding to national priorities in a more coordinated and coherent manner is more likely to help the achievement of tangible and sustainable results in gender equality. By drawing more effectively on our combined strengths, our joint priority is to support our national partners to achieve results on the ground which impact positively the lives of women and girls and the societies in which they live.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Member States for their support to the establishment of UN Women. This support has reaffirmed the Council's commitment to the goal of gender equality and reinforced its message that gender equality, the empowerment of women, women's full enjoyment of human rights and the eradication of poverty are essential to the achievement of all internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my privilege to introduce the report of the Secretary-General to ECOSOC contained in document E/2011/114, on “Mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system. The report responds to the Council's resolution 2010/29.

Fourteen years after the adoption of the ESOCOC agreed conclusions 1997/2 on gender mainstreaming, there has been substantial progress. Indeed, the Report of the Secretary-General shows that most United Nations entities incorporate the gender dimensions in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes. The development and adoption of gender-responsive indicators and the use of sex-disaggregated data for assessing progress is on the rise. Also, some entities have included accountability for gender mainstreaming in their overall institutional accountability frameworks and oversight mechanisms. Others use results-based management frameworks with targets, outcomes and outputs as a means to improving implementation and monitoring.

At the country level, the context of system-wide coherence and the “delivering as one approach have generated opportunities for a greater number of joint programmes for gender equality. Also, the United Nations country teams have demonstrated enhanced efforts to mainstream gender into the common country assessments and the United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks. Reviews of Resident Coordinator annual reports indicate progress in mainstreaming gender equality in national development processes. The UNCT Performance Indicators for Gender Equality are increasingly being used as part of the United Nations' accountability framework at the country level.

The report emphasizes that UN entities recognize that gender equality and the empowerment of women contribute strongly to development and that gender mainstreaming remains a most viable means of advancing the goal of gender equality and the empowerment of women. However, much more remains to be done to mainstream a gender perspective systematically and effectively into all the programmes across the United Nations system. Despite availability of some capacity to carry out the work on gender equality, the focus of this work is mostly on process rather than on impact and results. Also, the different practices, tools and methodologies to implement the UN's strategy on gender mainstreaming constrains system-wide comparability, assessment and planning.

The Report of the Secretary-General also notes weak linkages between the intergovernmental normative work on gender equality and the development and implementation of programmes at the country level. While there is a commitment to strengthen accountability, the system lacks common tools for assessing progress and gaps at programme and managerial levels. Inadequate human and financial resources are obstacles to the system's work on gender mainstreaming.

UN Women's coordination role is critical to address the remaining gaps and challenges to effectively mainstream gender perspectives across the system. With this in mind, UN Women is developing a coordination strategy in which it seeks to work through existing coordination mechanisms to ensure that the gender equality work is undertaken in a coherent manner.

At the global level and to facilitate coordination and coherence in the UN system's work on gender, UN Women participates in the Secretary-General's Policy Committee and is a full member of the CEB and its three pillars: the High Level Committee on Programme, the High Level Committee on Management and the United Nations Development Group. Through its participation in these bodies, UN Women is able to propose both specific agenda items relevant to gender, and provide input to policy discussions and decisions in other areas to ensure a gender perspective across the work of the UN system.

UN Women will also continue to be active in the UN Development Group, to work together with UNDG members to find more effective ways of advancing the goal of gender equality at country level. UN Women will provide leadership to the Inter-Agency Network of Women and Gender Equality (IANGWE) — a critical component of the gender coordination architecture at global level, providing a forum to bring senior decision makers of the UN system together to achieve policy coherence on gender equality.

At the regional level, UN Women will work through the regional coordination mechanisms to promote attention to the priorities of women and girls. The RCMs will also be encouraged to feed their respective policy decisions, especially those on gender equality, to the Regional Directors Teams (RDTs) for follow-up at the country-level.

At the country level, UN Women will work through the Resident Coordinator system and UNCTs to promote and coordinate the work on gender equality, providing support to the Gender Working Groups using guidance from the UNDG Gender Task Team (GTT).

UN Women's support to countries to empower women and advance towards gender equality should not replace or reduce any existing work or investments of any other UN entity. Rather, we encourage and support other entities in expanding their investments, programmes and staffing for gender equality, given that no United Nations endeavour to promote peace, development or human rights can be effectively pursued without applying a gender perspective.

Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Through enhancing partnerships across the United Nations system, UN Women seeks to create more opportunities for each UN organization to support gender equality from its area of comparative advantage. UN Women will also work to promote consistent and sustained coordination support and greater accountability across the UN system on gender equality.

I look forward to the adoption of the resolution “Mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes of the United Nations system tomorrow. The resolution reinforces UN Women's mandate to promote enhanced coordination, coherence and accountability of the system in its work on gender equality. UN Women will draw on lessons learned over the past years to guide its work and ensure measurable difference in women's lives.

Thank you.