New York, 2 February 2010 – A report by the Secretary-General proposing details for a new gender entity was issued on 6 January. The Secretary-General will present the paper to Member States this Thursday, 4 February, in the first meeting of informal consultations in the plenary on System-wide Coherence.

The report, “Comprehensive proposal for the composite gender equality entity,” was requested by the General Assembly in Resolution 63/311 of September 2009, when the GA agreed to establish the entity.

The four other issues of System-wide Coherence currently under consideration in the GA (Delivering as One, Business Practices, development funding, and development governance) are addressed in an additional paper, issued by the Secretary-General on 22 December 2009. That paper also is expected to be presented on 4 February.

Below is a summary of the Secretary-General’s comprehensive proposal on the gender entity.

Overview

In September 2009, the General Assembly agreed to establish a composite body consolidating the mandates of the four existing UN women’s agencies – the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI), the Division for the Advancement Women (DAW), the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

In its agreement, the GA requested the Secretary-General to produce “a comprehensive proposal specifying, inter alia, the mission statement of the composite entity, the organizational arrangements, including an organizational chart, funding and the executive board to oversee its operational activities in order to commence intergovernmental negotiations.”

Responding to this request, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has submitted to Member States a 22-page proposal. It outlines a mission statement, organizational arrangements, provisions for funding, and options for an Executive Board to oversee operational activities. The report also includes an organizational chart showing a proposed structure of three main divisions.

As a mission statement for the new entity, the report says that it will work for:

  • The elimination of discrimination against women and girls;
  • The empowerment of women; and
  • The achievement of equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, humanitarian action, and peace and security.

Regarding its governance arrangements, the report proposes that the entity be a subsidiary organ of the GA, reporting through the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). In addition, “an Executive Board will oversee its operational activities,” while the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) “will play a crucial role in guiding its work.”

The entity will be led by an Under-Secretary-General “to ensure the necessary authority and leadership.”

Functions and Structure

The composite entity will have the functions previously outlined in reports of the Deputy Secretary-General in August 2007 and July 2008. These functions can be applied at the three levels of the entity.

Country-level functions

The report “gives priority to strengthening United Nations capacity at the country level.” The entity’s work will vary from country to country, depending on the needs, circumstances and availability of resources. Some of the possible functions include:

  • Support national efforts in policy and program development for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
  • Lead advocacy on issues critical to gender equality, including at high-level meetings with UN country teams, members of the international community, and national actors.
  • Support Member States in the follow-up to, and reporting on, relevant Resolutions, processes and outcomes.
  • Act as a center for knowledge and experience on gender equality. Support research and evaluation. Support capacity development of national statistical institutions, national mechanisms for gender equality, and women’s networks to strengthen collection and analysis of sex-disaggregated data and its use.
  • Lead and coordinate the UN system’s actions on gender equality. Work as a full member of the UN country team under the overall leadership of the resident coordinator and as a leader of the UN country team on gender issues.
  • Strengthen accountability and transparency “by producing regular reports and facilitating tracking to monitor progress in gender equality against agreed roles, responsibilities, resources and results.”
  • Provide training for all relevant national and UN actors on the ground drawing from practices and experience in the country.

In order to adequately strengthen UN capacities at the country level, significant increases in national-level professional and support staff will be needed. With this in mind:

  • Staff presence will range from one national professional with support staff to larger teams of international and national and professional staff with national support staff.
  • Country-level support could also be provided by staff at the headquarters or regional levels.
  • Criteria for country support will be established by the entity’s Executive Board.
  • The expansion of field capacity will be approved by Member States through the Executive Board and will depend on the voluntary funding available.

Regional-level functions

The composite entity will have a staff presence in the UN regional operational support and oversight hubs. At the regional level, the composite entity will:

  • Draw on its own and other UN entities’ resources to provide both technical support to countries where the entity has no field presence, as well as extra capacity to meet short term additional needs.
  • Provide oversight and guidance to its country-level staff.
  • Partner with regional commissions “to enhance the linkages between the normative and the operational aspects of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the region.”
  • Develop and provide responses to region-specific challenges, including training opportunities and advocacy campaigns

Headquarters-level functions

At the headquarters level, the entity will provide substantive support to intergovernmental processes, as well as maintain regional and country-level activities. The entity will:

  • Support intergovernmental processes on gender equality and the empowerment of women, including the CSW and ECOSOC, including with research and policy analysis.
  • Lead global advocacy on relevant issues.
  • Lead and coordinate the UN system’s actions on gender equality and women’s empowerment. Advise the Secretary-General and the UN Chief Executive Board (CEB). Lead inter-agency working group on gender equality and develop strategic partnerships with other non-UN actors.
  • Strengthen accountability of the UN system on gender equality/gender mainstreaming.
  • Provide development capacities and training opportunities, and act as a center for knowledge and experience on gender equality and women’s empowerment;
  • Foster strong linkages with civil society and women’s organizations. “Given the importance of these partnerships, the Executive Director will find ways to ensure s/he can benefit from the advice of civil society and women’s organizations on a regular basis, including through the establishment of an advisory board.”
  • Mobilize resources from governments, civil society and private sector efforts to meet the needs of women and girls.
  • Ensure effective use of available resources by means of program planning and budgeting.

It is proposed that the headquarters of the composite entity be organized into three main divisions:

1)       Intergovernmental support and strategic partnership (led by an Assistant Secretary-General).

2)       Program and policy, providing guidance to regional and country-level staff (led by an Assistant Secretary-General).

3)       Operations, providing support and oversight in the operational areas (led by D2-level Director).

Organizational Arrangements

The report suggests two options for the creation of the Executive Board – establish an autonomous segment of the existing UNDP/UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Board, or establish a new Executive Board.

While the latter option would require creation of a Board Secretariat and additional expenses, a new segment of the UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board could be established immediately.

The new Executive Board would report to the GA through ECOSOC, as the CSW also does.

To ensure cooperation between the two governing organs (new entity and CSW), various options are suggested:

  • Convene joint sessions. The timing of a session should coincide with annual CSW sessions to consider the annual reports of both bodies and any other matters.
  • The CSW chairperson could be invited to address the Executive Board and vice-versa
  • The Executive Director could be mandated to submit an annual report on the work of the entity to both the Commission and the Executive Board, providing an overview of activities, including on thematic areas in accordance with the CSW’s multi-year program of work, and other activities.

Funding Targets and Financial Architecture

To successfully implement the above functions, the entity needs adequate human and financial resources.

The composite entity will be funded by both voluntary contributions and the regular budget of the UN.

Normative functions, including servicing the CSW, will be financed from regular budget on terms and conditions approved by the GA.

Operational and programming activities will be financed by voluntary contributions. The operational activities must have two dimensions of funding: basic capacity for core functions, and special needs to address critical gaps in the country.

Starting resources will be provided by consolidating the four existing gender equality entities. Together, these include 401 staff members and a budget of USD 225 million (in 2008).

The entity should have its own financial regulations and rules to ensure flexibility and timeliness in supporting country-level work.

The table below shows the estimated annual country-level costs.

Level of involvement by UN entity Country/regional coverage Cost per country (USD) Amount (USD)
Low 8-12 countries 500,000 – 900,000 7 million
Medium 36-40 countries 800,000 – 1,200,000 39 million
High 22-26 countries 1,300,000 – 1,700,000 37.5 million
Total Approx. 84.5 million

In addition, the entity would establish six regional offices, costing a total of USD 10.5 million, for a total of USD 95 million for country and regional costs.

Including USD 95 million in country and regional costs, the total annual budget requested for the start-up phase of the entity comes to USD 500 million, made up of USD 375 in activities responding to specific needs, and USD 125 in staffing, operating costs, and start-up capacity at the three levels (country, regional, and headquarters).

Funding need Amount (USD) Total (USD)
Country-level 84.5 million
Regional-level 10.5 million
Headquarters normative support function 7 million
Headquarters operational support functions 25 million
375 million
Subtotal basic staff/program 125 million 125 million
Grand Total 500 million

The report proposes a budget that would only “provide a starting point,” as “additional capacity will be required for the entity to make a notable difference.”

Review Process

The report suggests that a review process be held three years after the establishment of the entity, in 2013. The review will provide an opportunity “for any adjustments to reflect the outcome of ongoing discussions on the need for predictable, reliable and non-earmarked funding for development.”

It further proposes a review of the Executive Board be held three years after its creation. This review would provide an opportunity to ensure that the composite entity has an appropriate Executive Board.

Conclusions and Recommendations for Transition

In conclusion, the Secretary-General identifies the following needs, based on current gaps and challenges, which could be addressed by implementing the report’s proposals.

Need Proposed Solution
Strengthened national ownership and responsiveness to country-driven demands More robust country-level capacity and adequate responses by UN country team to national priorities would provide the basis for better coordination with national authorities, as well as emphasize country-driven needs.
Greater coordination and coherence The weak coordination among relevant actors could be addressed by strong leadership and clear guidance from headquarters, as well as improved collaboration and integration within the UN country teams and UN gender theme teams.
Elevated authority and positioning The establishment of the USG post will ensure a leading position for the new composite entity in the work of the UN on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Greater accountability The outlined functions and mechanisms will enable the new entity to establish clear roles and responsibilities within the UN system.
Predictable human and financial resources Enhanced resource mobilization capacity and the suggested framework for basic technical support, as well as funding start-up scheme, should increase predictability of both human and financial resources.
Enhanced technical support The ability to provide policy guidance and institutional support, as well as increased financing, will result in improved country-level support.

Suggested Outline for a GA Resolution

Finally, the Secretary-General outlines a basis for a Resolution on System-wide Coherence, including a series of steps to be taken by Member States, such as:

  • Decide on the best option for the Executive Board;
  • Approve the functions for the new entity as described in the report;
  • Transfer the responsibilities of OSAGI, DAW, UNIFEM, and INSTRAW to the new entity;
  • Abolish UNIFEM and INSTRAW;
  • Approve creation of Under-Secretary-General post to be funded by the regular budget;
  • Decide on source of funding for each function; and
  • Encourage voluntary funding contributions.

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