Speech: “The collective strength of the UN system is essential to achieving gender equality”—Lakshmi Puri

Date: Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mr. Vice President,
Distinguished delegates,
Good afternoon,

Thank you for the opportunity to update you on the development of our new strategic plan, with a particular focus on its alignment with General Assembly resolution 71/243 on the United Nations Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR).

I would like to thank all of you for joining our informal workshop yesterday. It was great to see such a high level of attendance and interest in the development of our new strategic plan for 2018-2021. The guidance, comments and informal feedback that we have received from you yesterday as well as this morning are invaluable for this important exercise.

As we have emphasized since the beginning of this process, UN Women is committed to an inclusive and participatory process.

The informal workshop was a critical opportunity for us to exchange on:

  • The key principles that will guide the new Strategic Plan, including:
    • The alignment with global normative frameworks, including the historic “gender equality compact” of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development; the Political Declaration at CSW 59; the Addis Ababa Action Agenda; Security Council resolution 2242 and a number of sectoral agreements, including the Paris Agreement, the New York Declaration on Migrants and Refugees, the New Urban Agenda and others.
    • The implications of the QCPR on the new Strategic Plan;
  • A substantive discussion on our priority areas, how UN Women articulates its added value and how we structure our results framework;
  • A discussion on resources and our approach to preparing the Integrated Budget;
  • The reality of our work in the field and key implementation strategies that will help us reach our vision for women and girls by 2021.

Yesterday, the Evaluation Office also presented a synthesis of lessons learned and recommendations from evaluations to date. We are fully committed to integrating these recommendations, the lessons from the 2016 midterm review and other assessments by Member States in the new strategic plan.

We have heard the importance you place on close coordination and harmonization with other agencies and ensuring coherence in the development of all strategic plans. This is something that UN Women has emphasized from the start. We are actively co-steering interagency work, including:

  • Harmonization of formats, processes, and results frameworks, including identifying shared or common indicators. We are working with other agencies to further harmonize milestones as requested this morning;
  • We are also developing a common chapter on how the UN development system contributes to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda;
  • common methodologies for strengthening the results to resources linkage;
  • and a coherent approach to gender equality work across agencies.

We are encouraged by your support to continue to coordinate with other agencies and will share the outcome of this effort with you. And we count on your support in your interaction with other Executive Boards of other UN entities for them to also prioritize gender equality and the empowerment of women within their own areas of specialization and comparative advantages.

This will be important groundwork for the request to the Secretary-General to develop a system-wide outline of present functions and provide recommendations to address gaps and overlaps. This exercise may require adjustments to respective plans in the course of 2017 and we will work closely with you to ensure that both processes are complementary and coherent.

UN Women firmly believes that the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development must deliver for women and girls. This means achieving SDG 5 but also making sure that the entire agenda is implemented in a gender-responsive manner as clearly defined by Member States in the agreed conclusions of the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in March 2016. The QCPR emphasizes the centrality of gender equality and women’s empowerment as intrinsic and instrumental to sustainable development in its three dimensions and to the eradication of poverty—a point that was mentioned by some delegations and with which we concur.

The full, effective and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action remains at the center of our work, firmly anchored in the 2030 Agenda, as our collective roadmap to gender equality and women’s empowerment. This remains the guiding framework for the strategic plan.

The collective strength of the UN system is essential to achieving gender equality. As called for in the QCPR, UN Women will continue to promote the coordination, coherence and accountability of the UN System, including through the UN-SWAP. Work is underway to develop a new generation of the UN-SWAP (UN-SWAP 2.0) and a country level scorecard. These tools will make explicit references to the 2030 Agenda, promoting a strong alignment between the gender equality work of all relevant entities.

The QCPR reaffirms the universal and inclusive nature of the 2030 Agenda as fundamental principles to ensure that no one is left behind and no country is left behind. Many delegations have highlighted the importance of these principles this morning. Ensuring that we can support all countries at their request, particularly Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing States and others countries in vulnerable situations is paramount. Working in different contexts also sometimes requires coordination of development efforts with humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding efforts. Reaching the women furthest behind and addressing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination is a priority. Our universal and triple mandate allows us to modulate the type of assistance we provide in accordance with each country’s needs – an element that is also at the center of our regional architecture and our response to the evaluation we discussed this morning.

In this context, UN Women is committed to the principle of national ownership, as emphasized in the QCPR. Independent evaluations and assessments have noted that UN Women’s programmes have a strong alignment with national priorities. Building on the new UNDAF guidance, which we helped shape, it will continue to be the case moving forward.

We are also committed to a continued emphasis on national capacity-building, as called for in the QCPR. The midterm review of our current strategic plan showed that this is our top priority, with 45 per cent of programme funds in 2015 dedicated to this category of work.

In addition, we will continue to provide policy advice, normative support, leverage partnerships and foster south-south and triangular cooperation in a complementary manner.

Notably, UN Women will scale up its work on capacity-building for gender statistics, a key requirement to enable the implementation and monitoring of progress on the 2030 Agenda. This will also contribute to meeting the QCPR’s emphasis on comprehensive and effective monitoring and reporting. Our new results framework will integrate SDG indicators that are relevant to our work and to measuring progress in gender equality. This will be done in coordination with other UN agencies.

One of the challenges that is existential for UN Women is funding. The QCPR calls for a sustainable funding approach, including through more predictable and flexible and voluntary funding. However, current funding trends and the overemphasis on earmarked resources are not aligned with this call. Our financing strategy, including financing our strengthened mandate in the context of the late normative achievements related to gender equality and the empowerment of women, aims to address this discrepancy. We count on the support of the Executive Board to be champions for a sustainable funding approach, prioritize core or soft-earmarked resources and call on others to do so. We look forward to a continued discussion in the structured dialogue on financing.

Until now we have seen widespread support from you on how the Entity is approaching the implementation of the QCPR, and on how it is planning to integrate its key provisions in the new Strategic Plan. This is very important for us, and very encouraging moving forward.

I would be happy to address—jointly with my colleagues—any additional questions or comments that you may have. Thank you.