New UN Awards Recognize Public Sector Efforts to Provide Gender-Responsive Service Delivery


The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) through its Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM, part of UN Women) last week signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a new category of the United Nations Public Service Awards, which will recognize public sector institutional efforts in providing gender-responsive service delivery.

The United Nations Public Service Awards is the most prestigious international recognition of excellence in public service. It rewards the creative achievements and contributions of public service institutions to development in countries around the world. Through an annual competition, the awards promote the role, professionalism and visibility of public service. Winners are announced every year on 23 June, United Nations Public Service Day.

An efficient public administration that delivers services for all citizens is central to the achievement of the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Yet, the lack of gender equality remains a challenge in many parts of the world and negatively impacts progress towards all of the MDGs. While there has been notable progress in ratifying conventions and improving legislation, adequate design and delivery of gender-responsive services have lagged behind. Women, and in particular women in hardship, represent the overwhelming majority of those who access and use public services. Public authorities have a crucial role to play in ensuring that the service delivery needs of women are met. For this reason, the new award category will serve as a token of recognition for public servants who are working tirelessly to improve the delivery of services to women, and will also serve to encourage others to learn from and replicate their good examples.

The UN Public Service Awards are managed by Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) of UNDESA. DPADM helps countries build and develop public institutions, as well as strengthen government capacity to promote sustainable development, advance public sector reform and improve the quality of public service delivery. By offering capacity-building activities, sharing knowledge, and providing training and online tools, the Division promotes efficient, effective and citizen-oriented public services, based on the principles of transparency, accountability and civic participation. The Division stresses innovative approaches to public management, in particular through e-government development.

UNIFEM (part of UN Women) is committed to building good governance and is mandated to promote gender equality through the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Beijing Platform for Action. Over the last year UNIFEM (part of UN Women) has been drawing attention to the issue of gender-responsive service delivery through its programme ?Gender and Democratic Governance in Development: Delivering Services for Women.? The programme, which is generously funded by the Government of Norway, supports reforms that advance gender equality in the governance of service delivery in various countries, and builds knowledge and develops tools for improving the delivery of public goods and services to men and women.

The new Memorandum of Understanding also covers other areas of collaboration towards the betterment of public administration and women?s empowerment and gender equality, focusing in particular on knowledge building around ?gender responsive public service delivery.?

Online nominations for the award are now being accepted at:, and the deadline is 31 December 2010. For more information about the UNPSA Application Process, please visit:

Reprinted from the UNIFEM (part of UN Women) website.