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Reforming the UN Gender Equality Architecture

News author: Monika Landmanova
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2007-02-22 16:06:17 / News read 3302 reading

The International Gender Policy Network (IGPN) – has organized a consultation of women’s NGO networks, actively engaged in work to advance gender equality in EU, Central and Eastern and South Europe and the CIS region.

The objective of the meeting was to update NGOs on UN reforms related to gender equality and to discuss the implications for women’s rights in the region. The meeting was supported by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), Regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

Participants at the consultation represented NGOs and NGO’s networks at international and national level and gender experts from the European Union Member States, acceding, candidate and potential candidate countries and the USA as well as the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), Regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

The discussion was focused on the UN gender equality architecture – as it currently stands – from a global perspective and the experiences of the participating organisations and networks related to cooperation with the UN on gender equality. A special attention was given to the UN reform with overview of the process and of the report “Delivering as one” of the Secretary General’ High-Level Panel from November 2006, including proposed changes to gender architecture:

The Secretary General’ High-Level Panel recommends the establishment of One UN at country level, with one leader, one programme, one budget and, where appropriate, one office. The follow-up process includes intergovernmental coordination (transmission of the report to UN General Assembly) and UN interagency coordination at High Quarter’s level. The establishment of five One UN pilots is envisaged in 2007 (for the Europe and CIS region the pilot country is Albania).

The Panel calls also for a stronger voice for gender equality and women’s empowerment and for a creation of a dynamic, fully and ambitiously funded gender entity (to unify UNIFEM, the Office of the Special Advisor on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, and the UN Division for the Advancement of Women).

The emphasis in the discussion was on how gender is being integrated into the UN reform discussion; how NGOs have been engaged in the implementation of the UN reform; how UN reform will affect regional and country scenarios within Europe/CIS; what is needed to ensure a strengthened response to women’s rights; how can women’s networks mobilize and advocate for women’s rights within the context of UN reform?

Participants underlined in the discussion that the problems in terms of gender equality that people in the region are facing continue to be very serious and demands are enormous. The challenge in the process of changing the UN architecture is how to strengthen mechanisms for mainstreaming gender at national, regional and world wide level and to produce issues to the agenda of the UN.

Following their deliberations, participants at the meeting worked to elaborate the following statement:
 Participants welcome the recommendation of the High-Level Panel for UN System-wide Coherence to strengthen the gender needs by establishing a new structure on gender (gender entity).
 Participants welcome a process of UN reform, and recall that a participatory approach is essential to a process and for its implementation. Participants call for civil society, NGOs and women’s groups to be involved in it at international and national levels.
 With regard to the planned process of ONE UN Pilot countries, participants call for strong women NGOs involvement – which is necessary from the beginning of the process and particularly in drafting the indicators and in performance evaluation.
 With regard to the strengthening of the authority of the RC (resident coordinators) to lead the One UN Pilot Country programme participants call for elaboration of criteria and standards, including performance evaluation and auditing on gender. Need for indicators to measure progress of One UN pilots at 2008 is also emphasised.
 Participants call for an Under Secretary General position to lead and coordinate effectively the request on the new UN gender entity to be both normative and operational, at level of high authority, and well resourced.
 Gender equality must remain the mandate of entire UN system. All current (gender) agencies should cooperate to ensure a strengthened approach to gender and to enable system-wide support on gender. There is a need for an annual ministerial review (AMR) to integrate gender perspective into the all UN policies and operations.
 The new UN gender entity should be present at the country level, at a level higher than a gender advisor, and well funded for activities at the country level.
 The acronym / brand name of UNIFEM should be kept and be the name of the new UN gender entity.
 Participants call the European Union and European governments for strong support and suitable funding of the new UN gender entity as well as collaboration with the civil society representatives.

The participants of the NGO Regional Consultation call on UN member states to support all points above.

This document will be delivered to the UN Secretary General and will be submitted to the fifty-first session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which will take place from 26 February to 9 March 2007.

The participants also encourage women’s NGO networks, actively engaged in work to advance gender equality in EU, Central and Eastern Europe and the CIS region to play a role in facilitating the UN reform process by circulating and considering more widely this document and to map out positions of their governments and engage them in the process of UN reforming.

Members of the following networks and organizations developed this statement on 16 February 2007 in Bratislava

Center of Women's Studies and Policies, Bulgaria
International alliance for Women, Austria
European Women’s Lobby
Slovak-Czech Women's fund, Slovakia
International Gender Policy Network, network of women’s NGOs in CEE/CIS countries
KARAT Coalition, Poland
Medica Kosova, Kosovo
WAVE Network & European Info Centre Against Violencee, Austria
Network of Eeast West Women Polska, network of women’s NGOs in CEE/CIS countries
Roma Education Fund, Hungary
Women in Black, Serbia
Women for Women's Human Rights, Turkey
WIDE Brussels
ASTRA network of women’s NGOs working in the field of SRHR of women in CEE/CIS countries
GERT, Bulgaria

The statement is open for signatures (osf@osf.cz).

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