Today the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution creating a new entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women, otherwise known as UN Women. Amnesty has been campaigning for a stronger UN agency for women’s issues for some years and today our goal became a reality. On June 17th, 2010 Amnesty joined a delegation representing the GEAR Campaign, a global network of over 300 organizations, to deliver 34,555 signatures from 165 countries to the President of the UN General Assembly urging him to prioritize the establishment of a new UN agency for women (over 4,000 of those signatures were collected by AIUSA – so a big shout out to all of you activists who signed the petition!). Your action made a difference and today, UN Women was established.
There are currently four seperate agencies in the UN dealing with women’s issues: the Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), and the Office of the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women (OSAGI). UN Women will consolidate all of these bodies into one, a change that women’s and civil society organizations around the globe have been striving for since 2006 . We are very hopeful that the new body will necessarily strengthen the UN’s work on women’s issues, and more effectively support the rest of the UN system and governments to better protect and promote women’s human rights.
Furthermore, governments can take advantage of UN Women in implementing their women’s human rights obligations. For example, the new body could help to integrate human rights into government implementation of all UN Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), including MDG 3 on gender equality and MDG 5 on maternal health.
The GEAR campaign will continue advocating in support of UN Women, to make sure that an experienced leader, who is committed to women’s human rights is appointed. The Secretary-General is now considering candidates. It is our role to keep up the pressure and make sure that gender equality and the empowerment of women remains a top priority for the UN.