02.4 UN Women at CSW

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The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, also known as UN Women, is a United Nations entity working for the empowerment of women and girls. It is the governing body of CSW. UN Women headquarters is in New York. Former President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, became the inaugural Executive Director in 2010. After Ms Bachelet’s departure following CSW in 2013, Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was appointed Executive Director of UN women in August, 2013. As with UNIFEM previously, UN Women is a member of the United Nations Development Group.

UN Women was created by the United Nations General Assembly in July 2010. In doing so, UN Member States took an historic step in accelerating the organisation’s goals on gender equality and the empowerment of women.  UN Women became operational in January 2011.

The creation of UN Women came about as part of the UN reform agenda, bringing together resources and mandates for greater impact. It 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.

These were:

  • 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).

NGOs from across the world discussed, debated and lobbied for this change. NGO representatives from each sub-region formed an international working grouping around this reform named Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR) Group.

The main roles of UN Women are:

  • 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 UN 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.

UN Women is operational in 54 countries and has 49 fully operational International Offices (programs). UN Women works closely with other UN Agencies such as UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) (children and education) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)(health, and sexual and reproductive health) across joint issues relating to women, gender equality and equity.