“You are making history,” Michelle Bachelet reminded us at the opening of the UN Women Executive Board meeting in New York City this morning. Monday, 27 June 2011
Under-Secretary General Bachelet, who is the Executive Director of UN Women, was speaking of the new entity’s very first strategic plan, which will take it forward to 2013.
In her introductory statement, Bachelet also acknowledged the important role that women’s networks, including the GEAR Campaign, play in generating ideas and feedback for the fledgling UN Women: “We have been so privileged to receive the vast amount of ideas and encouragement which have generated an unparalleled amount of shared ownership”.
The Global Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR) Campaign was also given the opportunity to speak, represented by Latin American feminist Dr Mabel Bianco.
She shared the GEAR Campaign’s main concerns with the UN Women Executive Board, which include:
∙ Meaningful participation of civil society in its work. This would include formal mechanisms for consultation with NGOs and women’s networks, such as NGO Advisory groups, at all levels
∙ Strengthening UN Women operational presence at country and regional levels
∙ Ensuring that UN Women works with a human-rights based approach
∙ Adequate funding
“We are deeply concerned that the new entity does not have the opportunity to budget on an equal footing with other UN agencies – although the expectations for performance and results are equally high,” said Dr Bianco, reading from the GEAR Campaign statement.
Timor-Leste, a UN Women Executive Board member, was also among the many that raised concerns about funding. The tiny post-conflict nation, which has least-developed country (LDC) status, pledged thousands of dollars towards UN Women core costs, as a demonstration of the type of political commitment and support that is needed to make the new entity work.
Timor-Leste also spoke in support of UN Women’s work in the Pacific: “We look forward to the strengthening of UN Women’s presence, not just in-country, but in the regional Pacific office as well.”
The GEAR Campaign also supported a “robust country presence” in their statement:
“It is critical that the work of the new gender entity at country level be strengthened – it should be led in every office by a senior person who has sufficient programme authority… and who has a budget and the authorisation to use it for programmatic purposes.”
The advocacy network also touched on UN Women’s role as part of a cohesive, collective UN presence, providing “leadership to coordinate activities on gender equality across the UN system”.
The GEAR Campaign’s statement was based on an analysis of the UN Women draft strategic plan, and their more detailed comments can be found here:
The GEAR Campaign is a network of over 300 women’s rights, development, human rights and social justice groups from around the world.
FemLINKPacific is the GEAR regional focal point for the Pacific.
Source: Tara Chetty for FemLINKPacific