ECOSOC ADOPTS RESOLUTIONS ON GENDER EQUALITY AND EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN, AND GENDER MAINSTREAMING IN THE UNITED NATIONS
Holds General Debate on Mainstreaming a Gender Perspective into All Policies and Programmes of the United Nations System
14 July 2011
The Economic and Social Council this morning adopted two resolutions on the role of the United Nations system in implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to gender equality and the empowerment of women, and on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system.
In the resolution on the role of the United Nations system in implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to gender equality and the empowerment of women, the Council called upon UN Women to fully assume, in accordance with the principle of universality, its role of leading, coordinating and promoting the accountability of the United Nations system in its work in gender equality and the empowerment of women, and of ensuring more effective coordination, coherence and gender mainstreaming within the United Nations system, and to continue to follow up on and support United Nations entities to advance effectively their work in that regard. The Council also urged all Member States and other stakeholders to enhance UN Women and other United Nations system-wide efforts to promote this work.
In the resolution on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system, the Council requested the United Nations system to continue mainstreaming the issue of gender in accordance with previous Council resolutions and requested the United Nations system to continue to support Member States, with their agreement and consent, in the implementation of national policies for the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women, inter alia through providing support and capacity development to national machineries for the advancement of women. The Council called on UN Women to ensure its work led to more effective coordination, coherence and gender mainstreaming across the United Nations system.
At the beginning of the meeting, the Council held a general debate on coordination, programmes and other questions: mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes of the United Nations system.
Speakers in the general debate said it was a well-recognized fact that investing in women and girls had a multiplier effect on productivity, efficiency and sustained economic growth. Challenges continued to prevent women and girls from exercising their right to education. Significant constraints on women’s access to full employment and decent work remained in many parts of the world. A gender gap in education had far reaching implications for development. Gender equality concerned both women and men. Achieving gender equality would undoubtedly contribute to economic growth and the growth of employment, competitiveness and social coherence. Speakers recognized the need for coordination and cooperation on programmes and policies on women empowerment and gender equality and fully supported UN Women.
Speakers pointed out that although the achievements of the United Nations system in the field of gender equality and empowerment of women were notable, gaps and challenges remained. There was a need to close the gap between policy and practice at all levels on gender equality. UN Women was a one of the common efforts to address this persistent gap within the UN system. UN Women was created to strengthen coordination, coherence, efficiency and accountability within the UN system concerning both the normative processes and operational activities related to the gender issue. More resources, however, were needed to assure that UN Women met these goals. The promotion of gender equality required bolder action by all development partners and partner countries.
In the general debate, Argentina, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, Poland, on behalf of the European Union, the Russian Federation, Peru, Mexico, Croatia, Honduras, the United States, Indonesia, Slovakia, Belarus, Japan, Argentina, India, Zambia, Ukraine, the Philippines, Norway and Morocco took the floor.
The Economic and Social Council will reconvene at 3 p.m. when it will open the Operational Activities Segment, and will hold a panel discussion on “2012 quadrennial comprehensive policy review of the General Assembly – What are the expectations: Issues, process and outcome?” The Coordination Segment was not officially closed as there are still pending draft resolutions under it that are being discussed.
In a resolution (E/2011/L.29) regarding the role of the United Nations system in implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to gender equality and the empowerment of women, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon UN Women to fully assume, in accordance with the principle of universality, its role of leading, coordinating and promoting the accountability of the United Nations system in its work in gender equality and the empowerment of women, and of ensuring more effective coordination, coherence and gender mainstreaming within the United Nations system, and to continue to follow up on and support United Nations entities to advance effectively their work in that regard; and urges all Member States and other stakeholders to enhance UN Women and other United Nations system-wide efforts to promote this work. The Council urges the United Nations system, including agencies, funds and programmes, to recognize gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as essential for achieving all the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, and to support action to address the cross-cutting issues identified in the Ministerial Declaration at the High-Level Segment of the 2010 substantive session of the Council, so as to close implementation gaps that still persist in the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women in that respect. The Council also requests the Under-Secretary-General and the Executive Director of UN-Women to include information on the implementation of the present resolution in future presentations to be made to the Council or in relevant documentation to be submitted to the Council, including at its substantive session of 2012.
In a resolution (E/2011/L.30) regarding mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the United Nations system to continue mainstreaming the issue of gender in accordance with previous Council resolutions; requests the United Nations system to continue to support Member States, with their agreement and consent, in the implementation of national policies for the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women, inter alia through providing support and capacity development to national machineries for the advancement of women; recognizes that large gaps remain between policy and practice and that building United Nations staff capacities alone is not sufficient for the entire United Nations system to meet its commitments and obligations with respect to gender mainstreaming; calls on UN Women to ensure its work led to more effective coordination, coherence and gender mainstreaming across the United Nations system; requests the United Nations system, including its agencies, funds and programmes within their respective organizational mandates, to continue working collaboratively to enhance gender mainstreaming within the United Nations system; and requests the Secretary-General to submit to the Council at its substantive session of 2012 a report on the implementation of the present resolution.
NATALIA HANDRUJOVICZ (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the G77 and China, said that the 2010 Ministerial Declaration addressed the link between gender equality and the empowerment of women to the broader development agenda and recommended a series of essential gender-related policy recommendations to achieve the internationally agreed goals. Women still constituted the majority of the world’s poor. Challenges continued to prevent women and girls from exercising their right to education. Significant constraints on women’s access to full employment and decent work remained in many parts of the world. It was important to highlight that the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration in 2010 coincided with the establishment of United Nations Women. It was also important to enhance the economic empowerment of women in the context of the global crisis and to acknowledge the contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, as agents of change. Greater efforts were needed to support developing counties towards achieving the internationally agreed goals and commitments on gender equality and the empowerment of women. The G77 and China urged further strengthening coordination between and beyond the United Nations system agencies addressing all the internationally agreed development goals and commitments in regard to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
REMIGIUSZ A. HENCZEL (Poland), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the 2010 Ministerial Declaration acknowledged the crucial role of gender equality and women’s empowerment in economic and social development, welcomed the establishment of UN Women and pledged full support to its operationalization. The European Union through its policies and development programmes addressed many of the issues that were highlighted in the Declaration. Gender was key to the programmes that the European Union financed in partner countries throughout the world. Gender equality was a human right and a precondition for sustainable development; however, the international community was far away from achieving the agreed goals aside from significant progress in sectors such as education. The promotion of gender equality required bolder action by all development partners and partner countries; the United Nations needed better coordination to be able to play the central role for gender equality and the empowerment of women. The European Union looked forward to strengthening its partnership with UN Women for the promotion of gender equality and women’s rights and empowerment.
KRISTINA SUKACHEVA (Russian Federation) welcomed the commencement of work of UN Women and hoped that it would help the work of the United Nations, in particular, by establishing accountability at the Secretariat on the part of Member States. The Russian Federation had familiarized itself with the report presented by the Chief Executives Board for Coordination and recognized its breadth and the diversity of issues that it tackled; and it drew attention to its initiative concerning a platform for monitoring the implementation of commitments and international efforts towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Integrated implementation frameworks were supposed to contribute to the efforts towards the achievement of the goals and the initiative merited a deep and thorough discussion. It was important to carefully analyze the work underlying this mechanism and the principles for the partnership for development and underline the importance of enhancing the transparency and accountability of the board.
GONZALO GUTIERREZ REINEL (Peru) said that the creation of UN Women was important for the promotion of women’s rights and gender equality at the international level, similarly, UN Women should promote coordination and coherence along with a gender perspective within the United Nations system. The first strategic plan 2011-2013 contained objectives and goals for the next two years, including an effective coordination of the United Nations system on gender equality. Further attention should be paid to middle income countries, many of which faced inequality and poverty and lacked the adequate income distribution or social equality as a central element for development. In Latin America progress had been made in reducing gaps and inequalities, but further work would be required to improve the living conditions of vulnerable women and girls.
RODRIGO PINTADO (Mexico) underlined the contribution made to the issue of promoting gender and women empowerment and the mainstreaming of gender within the United Nations system. It was vital for the Council to follow up on this central issue on the agenda of the United Nations and to recognize that gender mainstreaming had positive effects on all aspects of the development agenda. Women played a fundamental role in development. It was necessary to further strengthen the institutional machinery of the United Nations in order to promote women’s rights and empowerment. A broad and cross-cutting approach was necessary to promote coordination and improve the impact of integrated programmes.
MAJA IVANJKO (Croatia) said that gender was a fundamental right and a precondition for sustainable development and Croatia welcomed all recent efforts within the United Nations framework regarding this area. The Croatian Parliament had introduced the Gender Equality Act in 2008 and the Anti-Discrimination Act came into force a year later. Croatia actively contributed to achieving the objectives of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and other related resolutions and to fulfil its obligations, and represented the views and progress about them through relevant international forums. The final draft of the Croatian National Action plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 was underway and was accompanied by a set of measurable indicators which should contribute to the implementation of specific tasks. Women who had been subjected to abuse and violence should have access to adequate services to ensure their safety, as well as access to justice.
ROBERTO FLORES BERMUDEZ (Honduras) recognized the efforts of the United Nations as highlighted in the report of the Secretary-General on gender mainstreaming. The status of women in the development agenda was emphasized in the 2010 Ministerial Declaration, which Honduras had supported. National and regional efforts were contributing to gender equality and empowerment of women. Equity in education had an impact on everything that was economic and social in nature, including an impact on environmental issues. The Government of Honduras had provided direct support to women and invested in women and girls, which had an impact on efficiency, effectiveness and sustainable economic development.
LAURIE PHIPPS (United States) said the United States recognized the need for coordination and cooperation on programmes and policies on women empowerment and gender equality and fully supported UN Women. The United States expected to see the fruits of improved cooperation and coordination at Headquarters and in the field. Each United Nations agency needed to ensure gender mainstreaming was incorporated into their work and women and girls benefited; they should be held accountable for doing so. More resources, however, were needed to assure UN Women met these goals. Insufficient attention had been paid to the issues of women and girls before the creation of UN Women and the United States appreciated the high profile Michelle Bachelet brought to the issue.
DICKY KOMAR (Indonesia) said there was a need to close the gap between policy and practice at all levels on gender equality. UN Women was one of the common efforts to address this persistent gap within the United Nations system. The Government of Indonesia had made significant progress in guaranteeing gender balance and fair representation of women and had taken special measures to redress imbalances based on gender. These actions had brought positive results and Indonesia had seen meaningful progress. Challenges, however, remained. While Indonesia was mindful of the need for regional autonomy, it had nevertheless stressed the importance of coordination and proper streamlining of efforts. Indonesia reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to gender equality and empowerment of women and would continue to work with the global community and UN Women on these issues.
BRANISLAV LYSAK (Slovakia) said Slovakia acknowledged that United Nations activities and initiatives had led to the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women. When implementing the agreed-upon commitments and goals of the 2010 Ministerial Declaration, the Slovak Republic emphasized human rights aspects of gender equality issues and focused on breaking down gender stereotypes. Pursuant to international commitments, Slovakia had proceeded in the institutional strengthening of the gender equality agenda. Slovakia undertook in its manifesto to promote measures for the elimination of gender discrimination. In conclusion, Slovakia emphasized that gender equality concerned both women and men. Applying gender equality would undoubtedly contribute to economic growth and the growth of employment, competitiveness and social coherence.
ANDREI POPOV (Belarus) welcomed the new gender equality architecture and shared the optimism expressed by the UN Women Executive Director that the establishment of this new structure would favour more effective coordination and synergy of efforts for gender mainstreaming in the United Nations System. The activity of UN Women should be targeted at providing support to Member States in implementing the internationally agreed obligations in regard to gender equality. Under UN Women's thematic priority "ending violence against women" important consideration needed to be paid to the protection of women and girls from the human trafficking phenomenon. Belarus regretted that this issue did not receive sufficient attention in the thematic reports to ECOSOC and expressed hope that UN Women would bridge this gap by including counter-trafficking activities in its relevant strategic frameworks. Belarus highlighted the importance of participation of UN Women in the work of the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons.
OSAMU SAKASHITA (Japan) appreciated the active discussion that took place during the two panel sessions on women, which was an expression of the strong will of Member States, the United Nations system and civil society to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment and the high expectations placed on the lead role of UN Women in pursuing of this objective. Achieving human security was one of the central aims of Japanese foreign policy. Gender equality and women’s empowerment were extremely important elements of this larger goal. UN Women was created to strengthen coordination, coherence, efficiency and accountability within the United Nations system concerning both the normative processes and operational activities related to the gender issue. In Japan, civil society actors such as women’s groups were playing a prominent role in the wake of the great earthquake in March, so that the perspective of women would be duly taken into account in the post–disaster recovery. Japan expressed its intention to provide strong support to UN Women for the effective and efficient implementation of its activities.
INES FASTAME (Argentina) said gender equality and women’s empowerment were essential to reducing poverty, economic development and the fulfillment of human rights. It was essential to strengthen cross-cutting aspects of gender mainstreaming and Argentina continued to believe that major advancements were being made. Argentina stressed the great potential presented by the establishment of UN Women and supported the efforts of UN Women to work with all countries to mainstream gender in programmes and policies. This required institutional and financial support and coordination among all United Nations agencies as well as between Member States. This work could also be enhanced by improving accountability measures. Argentina highlighted the need to fight against gender stereotypes and profiled the laws and programmes implemented in Argentina to improve gender equality and empower women. Argentina had established an observatory to monitor the use of gender stereotypes in the media and had launched a media campaign against these stereotypes.
RUPA DUTTA (India) said the 2010 Ministerial Declaration was yet another opportunity to focus on the important cross-cutting issue of gender equality and the empowerment of women within the context of implementation of the internationally agreed development goals and the Millennium Development Goals. It was a well-recognized fact that investing in women and girls had a multiplier effect on productivity, efficiency and sustained economic growth. Although the efforts of the United Nations system in the field of gender equality and empowerment of women were notable, gaps and challenges remained. The gender issue continued to be one of the highest political commitments of the Indian Government. Over the years, considerable steps had been taken to overcome traditional mindsets about women and ensure that women could play a more equitable role in all aspects of society. India expressed support for working together in a holistic and coordinated manner to fulfill obligations and commitments to gender equality and the empowerment of women, in enhancing the United Nations system’s coordinated approach under the leadership of UN Women.
PATRICIA CHISANGA KONDOLO (Zambia) said Zambia continued to place great importance on promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women, which was reflected in its development strategies. Zambia was aware of the importance of creating greater inter-linkages and coherence between the United Nations system and regional and national mechanisms. UN Women could play an important leadership role in mainstreaming gender perspectives in all policies and programmes. Recent legislation in Zambia on gender based violence and the development of protocols to facilitate the implementation of national action plans on women, girls and HIV and AIDS were designed to empower women. Education was critical to achieving all goals, including the Millennium Development Goals. A gender gap in education had far-reaching implications for development. Zambia noted that progress had been made in meeting goals in women’s empowerment and education, although much remained to be done to reduce the implementation gap in gender-related goals. Zambia called for enhanced international cooperation and resource allocation.
PETKO BESHTA (Ukraine) said achieving the Millennium Development Goals would not be possible without making progress on empowering women. Ukraine was committed as a member of the board of UN Women to promote cooperation and coherence within the United Nations. Real improvement of the situation of real women on the ground would be the criteria to judge the programme Young Women in the Future. Ukraine appreciated the work of United Nations agencies in combating gender inequality. It commended UNIDO for its commitments to full gender mainstreaming in all its programmes, projects and organizational practices. Ukraine had been active in advocating for women’s human rights, and had favoured respective United Nations Human Rights Council initiatives, in particular the resolution on the establishment of a working group on discrimination against women in law and in practice.
EVAN P. GARCIA (Philippines) said the advancement of women and gender equality was integral to countries’ progress. The Philippines’ Government mainstreamed gender issues in all areas as called for in the Beijing document and in the context of the Millennium Development Goals. To ensure the full integration of women in economic, social and cultural development at national, regional and international levels, the Philippine had adopted a 30-year perspective plan. National efforts had to be complemented with initiatives and programmes at the regional and international levels. Gender equity was no longer just a women’s issue but a human rights and development issue. Finally, the Philippines called for continued international vigilance and solidarity in other multilateral efforts to protect women and girls, particularly in the context of human trafficking, and through multilateral instruments such as the convention on domestic workers adopted by the International Labour Organization last month.
SYLVI BRATTEN (Norway) said Norway was pleased that the Coordination Segment had promoted the placing of women’s empowerment and gender equality higher on the agenda of the Economic and Social Council. Michelle Bachelet had said that advancing the rights of women was not only the right thing to do but also the smart thing to do. Norway could not agree more. More equal opportunities and fair outcomes were basic reasons why Norway had a high national income. Norway had found best outcomes politically and economically were based on ensuring opportunities for women. Empowering women and improving women’s educational opportunities were comparative advantages. Norway, of course, still had challenges and was continuing to address them. Norway was convinced that all the Millennium Development Goals would be advanced by improving gender equality. UN Women had a key role in leading, implementing and holding accountable all programmes and policies on gender mainstreaming in United Nations agencies. Coordination on gender issues had to be more than just the sum of individual actions. Norway would look for synergy effects and would support the United Nations in advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality. Norway reiterated its support for UN Women.
ANAS ALAMI-HAMEDANE (Morocco) said Morocco had just adopted a constitution that put women at the heart of constitutional law and guaranteed equal rights of women, part of the efforts to achieve parity between men and women in Morocco. Legislation and national development centres had also been attributed to this goal. Morocco supported national programmes and equality strategy for ensuring women’s empowerment and gender equality in business, government and civil society.
ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, speaking after the adoption of the resolutions, summarized the work of the Council during its Coordination Segment. The Council held discussion panels on a number of crucial issues for its coordination agenda, including financing for development, and a dialogue on global economic governance with the international financial institutions. The discussion on the least developed countries emphasized the importance of promoting development through investments in human resources and infrastructure and the importance of developing more effective development efficiency. The possibility of establishing a panel of experts on the global financial crises was discussed. Draft resolutions on financing for development and one on the Global Jobs Pact were still under discussion. The Council also held a special event to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development in an unprecedented event jointly organized with the United Nations Human Rights Council. Statements in that event had underlined the interlinkages between development and human rights. During a panel on the issue of gender mainstreaming and gender equality, senior leadership from United Nations agencies, funds and programmes indicated progress made and noted the contribution made by UN Women in achieving effective coordination and coherence at the global level. Participants also emphasized that the ultimate responsibility for advancing the cause of gender equality and women empowerment lay with Member States and stressed the importance of developing a national sense of ownership. Despite significant progress, challenges remained at the level of country offices and Headquarters, in particular the need for a common framework to track achievements and monitor results, accountability mechanisms, and gender disaggregated data. The Council also held a panel on countering gender discrimination and negative stereotypes, where it was recognized that these stereotypes contributed to discrimination. Panellists called for the inclusion of gender-friendly perspectives on a number of areas such as religion and education, and particularly in the work place. The use of social media to combat discriminatory gender stereotypes was also encouraged as well as engaging men and boys as part of this effort.
For use of the information media; not an official record