Global Coalition Supports a New U.N. Gender Entity
Friday, April 24, 2009 12:00 PM

A proposal for a strong new women's entity at the United Nations was supported by an international coalition of more than 300 women's organizations and human rights groups from more than 50 countries. After launching “Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR),” a long-term global campaign, the coalition is looking for a "hybrid" body, or a combination of a U.N. department and a U.N. agency.

While the majority of the members of the General Assembly and its President have already voiced a preference for a composite body for women, the UN Secretary-General will present a paper including four options to strengthen the U.N.'s gender architecture to the current sessions of the 192 members in order to make a final decision before September 2009.

The four options presented in the paper focus on the following goals:

  1. Maintaining the status quo of the U.N. institutions and projects related to women and gender but with increased resources.
  2. Creating a fund or program based on voluntary contributions from member states.
  3. Creating a new department within the Secretariat.
  4. Creating a new hybrid entity, incorporating option two and three.

The GEAR coalition members have stressed that they are looking for a combination of both a department and an agency, not merely a department within the U.N., in order to avoid the current problems and combine the advantages of both structures. Therefore, maintaining the status quo is not a favorable option for coalition member states, mainly because they view the current U.N. gender equality architecture as fragmented and under-resourced.

The GEAR Campaign is expecting the composite entity to be "ambitiously funded," hoping  for a minimum annual budget of one billion dollars from both voluntary and assessed contributions, a combination which would provide a more secure source of funding in addition to a more balanced ownership between both northern and southern countries.

The Secretary-General expressed his own preference recently in a meeting of delegates, mentioning that the composite entity is the best option in order to provide a concrete field presence, eliminate fragmentation, link normative and operational work, and hold all entities accountable for performance.

Compiled from: Deen, Thalif, Global Coalition Backs New U.N. Gender Body, March 30th, 2009, Inter Press Service – IPS.