Last week, the United Nations voted unanimously to create a new office on women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), which will begin official operations in January 2011. The move was lauded by the Gender Equality Reform Campaign (GEAR), a network of more than 300 women’s rights and social justice organizations that have been working for four years to mobilize support for a coordinated global approach to integrating gender equality in development, peace and security, and human rights initiatives and programs.
The new Entity will be headed by an Under-Secretary General, and will focus on assisting intergovernmental bodies to form policies and global standards, and on supporting UN member states to uphold and adhere to the standards set by these bodies. To ensure a more coordinated and coherent approach to addressing women’s rights and health throughout the UN, UN Women will consolidate the four existing UN bodies on women (UNIFEM, DAW, INSTRAW and OSAGI) into one new entity. Bringing these together and coordinating their work throughout the UN system should help the UN and governments to deliver more effectively on their obligations and many commitments to advance gender equality, women’s empowerment, and women’s human rights.
In a media release issued by GEAR, founding member Charlotte Bunch said that the Campaign has “high expectations for this new agency to be a solid foundation for advancing the human rights of women as central to global policy efforts to reduce poverty, and move toward greater realization of peace and democracy in the world. The coalition of women’s groups and other social justice, human rights and development organizations that played a pivotal role in this effort will now turn its efforts toward ensuring that the new body has the human and financial resources necessary to succeed.”