UN Women Executive Director presents UN commitments to embed gender equality in humanitarian response

Closing remarks from UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the World Humanitarian Summit Roundtable, Women and Girls: Catalyzing Action to Achieve Gender Equality, 24 May 2016 in Istanbul.


[As delivered]

Ms. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, President of the Republic of Croatia;
Mr. Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland; 
Ms. Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, Deputy Prime Minister, Independent State of Samoa;
Ms. Margot Wallström, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Sweden;
Dr. Babtunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA;
Representatives from civil society,
UN colleagues, Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you very much to my co-Moderator, Dr. Babtunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, and thanks to all of you for your participation and your attendance at this roundtable, which means so much to both UN Women and UNFPA. We thank you so much for your commitments.

My summary will focus on what the UN is committing to, highlighting what we have not emphasized in the other sessions in which we have participated. I must underline our appreciation for the fact that the theme of inclusiveness and the participation of women and girls has been so strong in the deliberations today. Pivotal to that is the announcement that was made by the Deputy Secretary-General about the UN itself aiming to work towards gender parity, achieving 40 per cent by 2020 and ensuring that by 2030 we have achieved 50 per cent gender parity. We must not underestimate the impact and the magnitude of that decision for the work that we do.

UN commitments at the World Humanitarian Summit

The UN will lead efforts to embed gender equality in the developing structures of humanitarian response, some of which will be generated from here. This of course will benefit women and girls. Our pledges today build upon past achievements, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the Women, Peace and Security Agenda with which many of you are very familiar.

The UN commitments cover a range of key priority areas for women and girls, but we are now just highlighting a few selected ones. The full UN commitments will be reflected in the Summit outcomes.

Starting with engaging women and girls as leaders, UNHCR pledges to ensure the equal and meaningful participation of women and girls in all decision-making processes in forced displacement contexts. Again, this will entrench the idea of “nothing about us without us”.

Secondly, ensuring humanitarian action is gender-responsive. In this case, UNDP will ensure that women and girls receive 40 to 60 per cent of the benefits of its employment generation and early recovery programmes in at least 15 countries. This is significant given the size of UNDP within the UN family.

Thirdly, preventing gender-based violence in crises, an issue that has been highlighted by many of you. In this case we highlight the commitment of UNICEF which commits to using software platforms to support real-time gender-based violence risk-mapping and analysis. This will benefit all of us who are working in that space, because this has been a gap.

Fourthly, prioritizing universal access to sexual and reproductive health—no prize for guessing who will lead us there! UNFPA commits to reach 40 million people by 2017, focusing on women and girls, with sexual and reproductive health information and services and gender-based violence prevention and response services in crises.

Fifth, on increasing resources, a subject that is very high on the priority list of UN Women, UN Women will lead efforts to ensure that, by 2020, we at least reach the 15 per cent of funding for humanitarian action that will be devoted to interventions targeting gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment, in line with commitments under the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. This may seem little, but at this point we are in the one digit percentage in terms of humanitarian resources that are achieving results for women and girls. So this is again a significant goal for us to try and achieve. UN Women will also work with partners to operationalize the Global Acceleration Instrument on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action, which is a fund that will provide flexible and rapid funding to advance the meaningful engagement of local women’s groups in crisis settings.