Migiro calls for consolidation of UN efforts for women’s equality

4 March 2009
Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro

The Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations has urged a speedy consolidation of women’s programmes at the United Nations, in order to intensify efforts for gender equality and women’s political, economic and social empowerment.

“A new entity focused on gender equality is overdue,” Asha-Rose Migiro told Ministers responsible for women’s and family affairs gathered for the 53rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women on Monday.

“Women of the world look to us for leadership and action. We cannot fail them,” Ms. Migiro said, noting that the issue of strengthening the UN system’s work for gender equality has been under discussion for almost two years.”

There are now, she noted, four major gender-focused entities at the UN: the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues, the Division for the Advancement of Women, the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW).

“There is little disagreement that the gender architecture is fragmented,” she said, adding that it is also inadequately funded and insufficiently focused on country-driven demands, with gaps between policy and implementation and weak authority.

Options for consolidation include a fund or programme focused on women on the order of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) or the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Other options include a department of the Secretariat, such as the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) or a hybrid that would combine the features of a fund and a department.

The options, including better use of the existing UN gender architecture, were discussed during informal consultations of the General Assembly last September.

With the issue of reform as yet unresolved, she said, the Assembly asked Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to provide a detailed paper on all options, focused, however, on the creation of a composite entity. She anticipated that a new round of informal consultations will begin soon.

“It is hoped that the inter-governmental process will ensure we put in place a new gender entity that will strengthen our efforts at both the operational and normative level,” Ms. Migiro said.


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