Today, we have great cause for celebration because February 24th, marks the official inauguration of UN Women. Launched on January 1, 2011, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, to be known as UN Women, began its work to integrate gender into the UN and global foreign policy.
UN Women is headed by Under-Secretary-General Michelle Bachelet, the former President of Chile, who has years of experience both as a pediatrician and former Chilean Minister of Health. Bachelet has a strong commitment to women and women’s health and we look forward to her leadership in ensuring and overseeing comprehensive gender integration into UN policy.
Initially, the focus of UN Women will be:
- To support inter-governmental bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms;
- To help Member States to implement these standards, standing ready to provide suitable technical and financial support to those countries that request it, and to forge effective partnerships with civil society, and;
- To hold the UN system accountable for its own commitments on gender equality, including regular monitoring of system-wide progress.
The UN General Assembly’s establishment of UN Women is a huge step forward globally for gender equality and women’s empowerment. The importance of integrating women and gender into all aspects of the United Nations will help ensure women’s voices are heard in all arenas and fulfill our human rights.
UN Women, merges and builds on the important work of four previously distinct parts of the UN system, which focused exclusively on gender equality and women’s empowerment: Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI), and United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).
For many years, the UN has been plagued with serious challenges when trying to promote gender equality on a global level. This was due in part to inadequate funding and resources and the lack of one single recognized leading group or authority to direct UN activities on gender equality issues.
With the creation of UN Women, that’s soon to change. The entity was created to address these very challenges – it will be a dynamic and strong champion for women and girls, providing them with a powerful voice at the global, regional and local levels. We hope that the creation of UN Women will lend further momentum for all countries, including the United States, to ratify and implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), create action plans to implement Security Council Resolution 1325, and to take all necessary steps to implement gender equality.
In short, UN Women will be the strong, new force behind promoting women’s equality and empowerment all over the world.
Check out the UN Women website to learn more.
Stay tuned to AIUSA’s blog and website for more exciting news regarding the push for total gender equality!