No more business as usual: UN seeks to raise women’s participation in intergovernmental forums

Date: Monday, May 1, 2017

UN Women will launch a publication titled “Shaping the international agenda: Raising women’s voices in intergovernmental forums” at a high-level event in New York on 2 May, 2017.

Women’s participation and leadership make for better policies. Yet, as of April 2017, in only 16 countries did a woman hold the position of Head of State and/or Government and, as of January 2017, women held only 18.3 per cent of ministerial posts. Underrepresentation of women in government trickles down to the intergovernmental forums—only three women have served as President of the United Nations General Assembly in the past 71 years [1]; and in 2016, women made up only 20 per cent of Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in New York, and 27 per cent in Geneva [2].

Business as usual is no longer an option, was the consensus emerging from 8th annual meeting of the United Nations Governing Bodies Secretariat (UNGBS) held in June 2016. UN Women, the United Nations Office at Geneva and the International Gender Champions have jointly produced the publication, “Shaping the international agenda: Raising women’s voices in intergovernmental forums”, which gives concrete recommendations to increase women’s participation and leadership in international organizations’ governing bodies.

The publication, first of its kind, is based on responses from a survey of 23 UN entities in 2016, and presents an overview of intergovernmental and UN inter-agency frameworks, trends in women’s participation in national governments and intergovernmental forums, and good practices in promoting women’s participation at the national, regional and multilateral levels.

The research also demonstrates effective measures taken by international organizations and highlights the importance of explicit policies and mandated targets related to gender balance; tracking and reporting on the number of women participating in their governing bodies, including as chairs; training and capacity-building; targeted financial support; and advocacy and communication strategies towards expanding women’s participation.

The launch event on May 2 will be moderated by UN Women Executive Board President Ms. Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the UN. She will be joined by gender equality advocates, including: Mr. Peter Thomson, President of the General Assembly; Mr. Jürg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN and Chair of the International Gender Champions; Ms. Laura Elena Flores, Permanent Representative of Panama to the UN and Member of the Group of Friends for Gender Parity; and Ms. Lakshmi Puri, UN Women Deputy Executive Director.

Two years into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the publication is particularly timely. Concrete actions to improve women’s participation and representation at all levels of decision-making is crucial for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, human rights and justice. 

Access the publication on UN Women's website.

Highlights

The high-level panel discussion and launch was chaired by the President of UN-Women’s Executive Board H.E. Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations, and was addressed with a keynote by the President of the General Assembly H.E. Peter Thomson. UN Women Deputy Executive Director . Lakshmi Puri outlined key findings and recommendations of the publication and was followed by statements by H.E. Jürg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations representing the International Gender Champions – New York as well as H.E. Ms. Laura Elena Flores Herrera, Permanent Representative of Panama to the United Nations representing the Group of Friends for Gender Parity.

Peter Thomson, President of the General Assembly delivers the keynote at the launch of the publication titled “Shaping the international agenda: Raising women’s voices in intergovernmental forums.” Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
Peter Thomson, President of the General Assembly delivers the keynote at the launch of the publication titled “Shaping the international agenda: Raising women’s voices in intergovernmental forums.” Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri highlighted the importance of acceleration of existing initiatives and scaling up efforts on gender parity throughout the development system. It is simply not acceptable to continue progress at the current pace, she said. The implementation of the 2030 agenda, and the relevance of the UN will depend on how – and how soon – the development system at large, including Member States and the United Nations system will succeed to implement full gender parity and participation of women at all levels. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri highlighted the importance of acceleration of existing initiatives and scaling up efforts on gender parity throughout the development system. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
Laura Elena Flores Herrera, Permanent Representative of Panama to the UN representing the Group of Friends for Gender Parity, and member of the International Gender Champions network, speaks during the panel discussion.
Laura Elena Flores Herrera, Permanent Representative of Panama to the UN representing the Group of Friends for Gender Parity, and member of the International Gender Champions network, speaks during the panel discussion.

Notes

[1] UN Women and International Gender Champions (2017), “Shaping the international agenda: Raising women’s voices in intergovernmental forums”. Geneva: United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG). See also http://www.un.org/pga/71/president/presidents-of-the-general-assembly/.

[2] UN Women and International Gender Champions (2017), “Shaping the international agenda: Raising women’s voices in intergovernmental forums”. Geneva: United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG).