U.N. To Formally Establish New ‘Gender Entity’

The U.N. General Assembly will move to formally adopt a new “gender entity” on Friday called “U.N. Women” that will fold the U.N.’s four existing women’s entities – UNIFEM, the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues, the U.N. Division for the Advancement of Women and INSTRAW – into one, Inter Press Service reports.  

“The new body is expected to have an annual budget of about 500 million dollars: 125 million dollars for basic support capacity at the country, regional and headquarters level, and 375 million dollars for country-specific U.N. programmatic support. In contrast, the 2008 funding available to the four existing gender entities was 6.2 million dollars from the regular budget of the United Nations and 218.5 million dollars from voluntary contributions,” the news service reports (Deen, 7/1).

U.N. Women will work on “system-wide coordination of gender mainstreaming,” be headed by an under-secretary-general and have its own executive board elected through ECOSOC, Jamal Benomar, chef de cabinet in the Office of the President of the General Assembly, said at a U.N. press briefing. “U.N. Women will be both a normative body, as well as an operational one. It will act as a secretariat and it will carry out operational activities including guidance and technical support at the country level,” he said (7/1).

The executive board will consist of 41 countries with seats distributed using a “hybrid formula based on geographical distribution of seats by member states, but with a second category reserved for donor countries,” according to IPS.

“The decision to create a separate powerful body to deal exclusively with gender-related activities comes years – or decades – after the United Nations created specialised agencies to deal with specific issues, including children, population, refugees, food, environment, education, health and tourism, among many others,” the article states. The body was established after “several rounds of intense eleventh-hour negotiations last week,” IPS reports. The article includes reaction to the new body from several women’s advocates (7/1).

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