U.N. Women Executive Director Bachelet Launches 100-Day ‘Action Plan’

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During the inaugural meeting of U.N. Women’s executive board this week, Executive Director Michelle Bachelet laid out a 100-day action plan for the newly-launched agency, Inter Press Service reports.

The creation of U.N. Women, which merged four formally distinct U.N. entities focused on women’s issues, “was the result of years of negotiations, strategic planning and a fierce pursuit of funds,” IPS writes. “In her detailed plan for the coming months, Bachelet emphasised UN Women’s core priorities, which include seriously tackling violence against women, enhancing and improving women’s voices, leadership and participation at national and international levels, prioritising women’s role in the peace and security agenda, empowering women economically and making gender inequalities central in national and international budgetary planning,” according to the news service (D’Almeida, 1/26).

The U.N. News Centre reported on her address to the first regular session of the agency’s executive board: “Stressing the need to ‘balance ambition with common sense,’ Ms. Bachelet said U.N. Women would focus on five core principles: enhancing implementation of international accords by national partners; backing intergovernmental processes to strengthen the global framework on gender equality; advocating gender equality and women’s empowerment; promoting coherence with the U.N. on the issue; and, acting as a global broker of knowledge and experience” (1/24).

Bachelet also underscored U.N. Women’s commitment to “reinforc[ing] its presence in individual countries, as opposed to relying on regional representation, to more clearly understand the specific problems” facing women, U.N. News Centre reports in a separate article. “We will continue to get closer to women every day, their reality and to better understand their needs, their concerns,” Bachelet said (1/25).

Devex writes of additional plans highlighted by Bachelet: U.N. Women “will put together a U.N. strategy on gender and implement a gender resource tracking system. It will provide grants worth $16 million in the coming months to government and non-governmental organizations to advance women’s political and economic empowerment, Bachelet said,” according to the news service (Leonzon, 1/25).

However, “[d]espite Bachelet’s enthusiasm and ambition, many women organisers, advocates, activists and academics remain concerned, fretful and often cynical about the competence and capability of the new body,” IPS continues, noting the controversy over some of the countries who have a seat on the executive board and questions over the agency’s ability to raise funds (1/26).

According to the Associated Press “[t]he combined budget of the four bodies being merged is about $220 million annually, but Bachelet is working to raise that to $500 million with the help of economically powerful donors. She hopes to double that to $1 billion within several years.” The news service describes how the World Economic Forum “will be an international coming-out
party for Bachelet, and the kick start of her campaign to raise $500
million over two years for U.N. Women … The swirl of social events
also will give Bachelet the chance to prod some of the world’s power
brokers to give money and include more women in their ranks, and do
more to ensure that 51 percent of the world’s population gets equal
treatment” (Snow, 1/26).

“Critical to our ability to provide strategic and sustainable policy and technical support to countries is the availability and reliability of financial resources,” said when addressing the executive board, according to a transcript from the meeting. “We will accelerate our partnerships and resource mobilization efforts as part of our 100 day Action Plan. Relying on the long-standing partnerships with Member States, we will encourage predictable multi-year pledges, to mobilize at least 50 percent of our core support annually” (1/24).

According to U.N. News Centre, U.N. Women “is set to receive a large boost in funding and be formally launched on 24 February during the 55th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, the global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and the advancement of women” (1/24). In June, the U.N. Women Board will meet to present its first annual plan, according to Devex (1/25).

VOA News reports that U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, who was present at the board meeting, emphasized the importance of the new body: “With the creation of U.N. Women, for the first time in the U.N.’s 65-year history, member states voted to put women’s challenges and opportunities at their rightful place at the forefront of the U.N.’s mission.  This commitment is not simply about equality and fairness.  Empowering women is a precondition for development, prosperity and security,” she said (Freund, 1/25).

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