Speech: “Only together can great results be achieved”—Asa Régner

Remarks by UN Assistant-Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, Asa Régner at the launch of the UN-SWAP 2.0 and UNCT-SWAP

Date: Thursday, June 21, 2018

[Check against delivery]

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour and a privilege to welcome you to the launch of the UN system’s updated accountability frameworks for gender mainstreaming: the United Nations System-wide Action Plan for Gender Equality (known as the UN-SWAP 2.0) and the United Nations Country Team System-wide Action Plan for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women Scorecard (known as the UNCT-SWAP gender equality scorecard).

Together with some of our sister agencies and long-time partners, UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA with us in the panel, and with the many others in the audience and elsewhere in the UN system, today is a day to celebrate. 

The UN-SWAP and the UNCT-SWAP Scorecard are essentially common frameworks that serve as instruments to embed and elevate the standards of the work of the UN system for gender equality and the empowerment of women. They embody a harmonized vision for mainstreaming gender into institutional functions and reporting on results in conformity with the Agenda 2030. They also respond to exhortations of the Member States, manifest in the latest reform of the UN Development System, to work together as one employing common understandings and means and with accountability. Now that is a quite a lot and all in one package, would you not agree?

Further, in the development of both frameworks, UN Women, together with UNDP in the case of the UNCT-SWAP, consulted widely for a period of 18 months across the universe of over 50 UN entities seeking agreement on common standards and visions and conducting pilots. This too is quite a lot—and so we can celebrate some more.

However, after the celebration of this event, next comes the time to implement and to seek compliance and continuous improvement, but not only by demanding it; rather by supporting it and coordinating for it and with the support of the Member States. Also, UN Women does so in execution of its mandate to lead, promote and coordinate accountability for the work of the UN system in the area of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

As you may know, 2017 marked the final year of reporting under the first phase of the System-wide Action Plan. Since its introduction in 2012, the System-wide Action Plan has brought about significant and sustained improvement in the performance and accountability of the UN system with respect to mainstreaming gender equality. 

Eighty-two per cent of the UN system (or 54 entities) now have gender policies and plans in place, up from 21 entities in 2012. This is a great achievement given that gender equality policies are a key lever for driving positive change. 

Entities also demonstrated significant progress on the capacity development indicator, with 49 entities meeting or exceeding requirements in 2017. The uptake and continued implementation of the UN Women “I Know Gender” electronic training course, developed and rolled out under the UN-SWAP is now mandatory in 31 entities, and as of February 2018, 32,454 staff of reporting entities had completed the course.

And, since 2012, the Gender-responsive auditing indicator has witnessed the highest gains. 7 entities complied with the requirements in 2012; 58 entities do today. Leadership by the Representatives of Internal Audit Services of the United Nations Organizations with whom the SWAP network liaised, and the increasing recognition of the key role auditing plays in promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women, drove performance.

Similarly, and projecting forward, it is our hope that the UNCT-SWAP will do the same. In 2016 of the 58 UNDAFs that commenced implementation, only approximately 70 per cent specified gender results at the outcome levels. With the implementation of the UNCT-SWAP, which sets as its first requirement the need to have gender results at the outcome level in the UNDAF, we hope this statistic will rise significantly. 

Hence, the UN-SWAP has achieved much and moved the needle, as the video that we are going to watch next will further show. Substance and dedication, also to dedicated coordination, paid off. As did the foundational ethos of partnership and solidarity and sharing within and across the 66 participant entities. No success was or could have been had alone. Only together. The UN-SWAP launched in 2012 has made that amply clear.

On that note, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the many partners and allies here today who have supported and lauded and guided us—the Member States, the entities, the UN system gender units and very importantly, the strong network of over 300 UN-SWAP focal points spread across the UN System who have fueled the implementation of the UN-SWAP. Without the determination and power of this network, the gains that the system has achieved between 2012 and 2017 would not have been realized.

The next generation of accountability for gender mainstreaming, namely the UN-SWAP 2.0 and the UNCT-SWAP, build on the successes and lessons learned, anchoring it also within the 2030 Agenda.

They expand the accountability to encompass system-wide reporting on collective results linked to gender-related targets of the SDGs, including SDG 5. They prepare the ground for comparability across the system and for systematic tracking of collective progress. And together they encompass both the HQ and the Country level, more in alignment than apart.

And, while the first year of reporting on results may be an experiment, nobody really knows exactly what this will look like quite yet—we are proud that gender equality is on this path, breaking new ground and intent on leading the way as best as possible. It is noteworthy that this launch is only a few days removed from the passage of the landmark Resolution on repositioning of the United Nations Development system and its reform. Could it be that the UN-SWAP and the UNCT-SWAP enjoy the distinction of being the first substantive manifestation of it?

In this context, UN Women looks forward to advancing and servicing our shared commitment and collective responsibility on gender equality and the empowerment of women at the Corporate HQ level through the UN-SWAP and at the country team level through the UNCT-SWAP Scorecard.

Similarly, however, we encourage you to support these initiatives to strengthen coordination and performance by all means within your reach and to actively promote its implementation. The system will rely on your advocacy and support. As I mentioned earlier, success cannot be had alone—we must all be in it together, each from their own corner. Only together can great results be achieved.

Thank you.