IWTC WOMEN’S GLOBALNET #341
ACTIVITIES & INITIATIVES OF WOMEN WORLDWIDE
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY SET TO ADVANCE PROCESS ON NEW UN GENDER ENTITY
September 11, 2008
1. MEMBER STATES EXPECTED TO DECIDE ON NEW GENDER ENTITY PROPOSED AS PART OF UN SYSTEM-WIDE COHERENCE
At an informal consultation about the UN’s work on gender equality and women’s empowerment, Member States were asked to decide next steps, before the end of the 62nd General Assembly session on September 15, 2008, including the institutional option or combination of options they wished to pursue with regards to the gender entity. Countries that spoke at the September 8 consultation indicated an emerging consensus on moving forward with the last of the four options under consideration Option 4/ D, which proposes the creation of a composite entity of the four existing women-specific agencies, i.e the United Nations Development Fund for Women, Office of the Special Advisor on Gender Issues, the Division for the Advancement of Women, and the International Research and Training Institute for Women.
Even as this option emerged as the most popular, countries requested the Secretary General to develop the option further and present a concrete proposal to the 63rd General Assembly session which opens on September 16, 2008. The framework resolution moving the System Wide Coherence process forward in the 63rd GA session and requesting the Secretary General to further develop Option 4/D is expected to be adopted during this week.
The other three options being considered as possibilities to strengthen the UN’s work on gender equality and the empowerment of women are (A) maintaining the status quo –women-specific agencies operating as they are now; (B) creating an autonomous fund/programme; and (C) creating a department within the Secretariat. All options were explored and analyzed in paper that was circulated in the General Assembly by the UN Deputy Secretary General (DSG) in July 2008 (see section 4 for a fuller explanation).
2. COUNTRY POSITIONS
France, on behalf of the European Union, endorsed the co-chairs recommendations and supports the creation of a new structure, headed by an Under Secretary General. The EU believes that Options D best addresses gaps and challenges, but further discussions are needed.
Iceland, on behalf of the Nordic countries, stressed the need for Member States to take concrete steps and that Option D is the best option.
On behalf of the CANZ group (Canada, Australia and New Zealand), Canada stated that the Composite entity option was more promising and a decision should be made in the next GA session.
Korea expressed its full support for strengthening the gender equality architecture in the UN, and voiced that the Fund/programme and the Composite entity were the two options that could be effective.
A number of African and Latin American countries including Kenya, Mozambique and Rwanda; Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay also spoke in support of strengthening the gender equality architecture, and some specifically supported Option D.
3. NGO POSITIONS
Prior to the September 8 consultation, a number of NGOs have stated their preference for option D highlighting its combination of the normative with the operational role and its potential to have a strong presence at the country level. They however stressed that it should be led by an Under Secretary General to guarantee representation at the highest decision-making level of the UN. Some NGOs and women’s groups, including European Women’s Lobby, OXFAM/novib, WIDE, WOMANKIND and GAD network UK, demanded that in order to set in place a fully operational, programmatic and efficient women’s agency the new agency must be funded to the minimum of $1 billion USD and lobby for this budget to double to $2 billion in 5 years.
4. INSTITUTIONAL OPTIONS TO STRENGTHEN UN WORK ON GENDER EQUALITY & EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN
The four options under consideration were based on the paper Institutional Options to Strengthen United Nations Work on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, prepared by the office of the Deputy Secretary General. This paper was sent to the President of the General Assembly on July 23 and circulated to Member States on July 28 in response to the request of the General Assembly to address the gaps and challenges in the work of the United Nations system on gender equality. The paper presents four options:
1/A. Maintaining the status quo – This option would not entail any structural change in the UN’s gender equality architecture.
2/B. Creating an autonomous fund/programme – involves the establishment of an autonomous programme that would consolidate the Office of the Special Advisor to the Secretary General on Gender Issues, Division for the Advancement of Women, UNIFEM, and INSTRAW
3/C. Creating a department within the Secretariat – In this option, a Department will be created within the UN Secreatriat to perform the functions including leadership in country-driven programming, gender mainstreaming and capacity building and provision of support to UN bodies such as the commission on the Status of Women and the Economic and Social Council
4/D. Creating a composite entity – requires the creation of a new governing body (or bodies) reporting to the General Assembly. It would be headed by a USG who is a full member of the Secretary General’s policy committee.
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