General Studies IIInternational Organizations

UN Women

About UN Women:

  • 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.
  • UN Women became operational in January 2011.
  • President of Chile Michelle Bachelet was the inaugural Executive Director, and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is the current Executive Director. 
  • As with UNIFEM previously, UN Women is a member of the United Nations Development Group.

By merging four parts of the UN system that worked in the field of women empowerment and gender equality. 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)
  • United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

  • UN Women works with the members of the UN in their march towards achieving gender equality.
  • It works with governments and civil society to come up with policies, laws, programmes and services required to ensure that global standards set to achieve gender equality are effectively implemented, and women and girls worldwide are actually benefitted.
  • UN Women works on four strategic priorities, namely,
    • Governance systems facilitate women to lead, participate in and actually benefit them.
    • Women have economic autonomy, income security and decent work.
    • Women and girls are not affected by any form of violence against them.
    • Women and girls contribute to and have greater influence in building sustainable peace and resilience, and benefit equally from the prevention of natural disasters and conflicts and humanitarian action.
  • UN Women works to place gender equality as a fundamental ideal to the Sustainable Development Goals. It works for a more inclusive world.
  • The governing body of UN Women is its Executive Board. It governs the operational activities and provides operational policy guidelines to UN Women.
  • UN Women is headquartered in New York.

UN Women Role

The chief roles of UN Women are:

  1. Supporting intergovernmental bodies (like the Commission on the Status of Women) to formulate global standards, policies and norms.
  2. Assisting member states to implement these policies, providing financial and technical support when requested, and forming effective partnerships with civil society.
  3. Leading and coordinating the UN system’s work on gender equality.

Why is gender equality important?

Gender equality is intrinsically linked to sustainable development and is vital to the realization of human rights for all. The overall objective of gender equality is a society in which women and men enjoy the same opportunities, rights and obligations in all spheres of life. Equality between men and women exists when both sexes are able to share equally in the distribution of power and influence; have equal opportunities for financial independence through work or through setting up businesses; enjoy equal access to education and the opportunity to develop personal ambitions, interests and talents; share responsibility for the home and children and are completely free from coercion, intimidation and gender-based violence both at work and at home.

Within the context of population and development programmes, gender equality is critical because it will enable women and men to make decisions that impact more positively on their own sexual and reproductive health as well as that of their spouses and families. Decision-making with regard to such issues as age at marriage, timing of births, use of contraception, and recourse to harmful practices (such as female genital cutting) stands to be improved with the achievement of gender equality.

However it is important to acknowledge that where gender inequality exists, it is generally women who are excluded or disadvantaged in relation to decision-making and access to economic and social resources. Therefore a critical aspect of promoting gender equality is the empowerment of women, with a focus on identifying and redressing power imbalances and giving women more autonomy to manage their own lives. This would enable them to make decisions and take actions to achieve and maintain their own reproductive and sexual health. Gender equality and women’s empowerment do not mean that men and women become the same; only that access to opportunities and life changes is neither dependent on, nor constrained by, their sex.

Initiative by Indian government:

Related Article: Women in STEM fields

Source: UN Women


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