UN Women

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UN Women

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)

In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

In doing so, UN Member States took an historic step in accelerating the Organization’s goals on gender equality and the empowerment of women. The creation of UN Women came about as part of the UN reform agenda, bringing together resources and mandates for greater impact.

UN Women 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: 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 the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

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 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.
  • To hold the UN system accountable for its own commitments on gender equality, including regular monitoring of system-wide progress.

Over many decades, the UN has made significant progress in advancing gender equality, including through landmark agreements such as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Gender equality is not only a basic human right, but its achievement has enormous socio-economic ramifications. Empowering women fuels thriving economies, spurring productivity and growth.

Yet gender inequalities remain deeply entrenched in every society. Women lack access to decent work and face occupational segregation and gender wage gaps. They are too often denied access to basic education and health care. Women in all parts of the world suffer violence and discrimination. They are under-represented in political and economic decision-making processes.

For many years, the UN has faced serious challenges in its efforts to promote gender equality globally, including inadequate funding and no single recognized driver to direct UN activities on gender equality issues.

UN Women was created to address such challenges. It will be a dynamic and strong champion for women and girls, providing them with a powerful voice at the global, regional and local levels.

Grounded in the vision of equality enshrined in the UN Charter, UN Women, among other issues, works for the:

  • elimination of discrimination against women and girls;
  • empowerment of women; and
  • achievement of equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, humanitarian action and peace and security.

UN Women

United States views on international law [1] in 2013 in relation to UN Women: On June 25, 2013, Teri Robl, U.S. Deputy Representative to ECOSOC, addressed the United Nations Women Executive Board in New York. Ms. Robl’s remarks are excerpted below and are available at (link resource) usun.state.gov/briefing/statements/211161.htm. For background on United Nations Women, see this world legal encyclopedia (in relation to issues that took place in the year 2010) at 323-24.

Some Aspects of UN Women

My delegation would first like to applaud the fact that after just two years of operation, United Nations Women has become a global leader for gender equality and women’s empowerment. Experience and a growing body of research demonstrate that when the rights of women and girls around the world advance, so do global peace and prosperity. Investing in women and girls is one of the most powerful forces for international development. Gains in women’s employment, health, and education spur economic growth and social cohesion; integrating women’s perspectives into peace and security efforts strengthens conflict prevention and makes peace agreements more durable; and when women and men are equally empowered as political and social actors, governments are more representative and effective.


UN Women’s leadership role is vital across the United Nations system. United Nations Women’s proactive involvement was essential to the successful conclusion of the March 2013 Commission on the Status of Women, where the personal involvement of the Executive Director and her team helped member states reach agreement on Conclusions regarding the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls. At the General Assembly last year, United Nations Women’s efforts helped pave the way for gender-related language in key resolutions, and at the Rio+20 Conference, United Nations Women’s advocacy was instrumental in gaining support for an outcome that recognized the importance of gender equality.

Critical Works

The United Nations does critical work on behalf of women and girls that takes place in the field, and United Nations Women has made its presence increasingly felt on the ground throughout the world. We are pleased that over the past year United Nations Women has increased its impact, including through hands-on engagement in over 70 countries. We urge United Nations Women to continue to expand its work with civil society organizations, including groups advocating for women’s rights, men and boys committed to advancing gender equality, religious and community leaders, and the private sector.


There are US support of United Nations Women’s focus on five fundamental priorities outlined in the current Strategic Plan: leadership and political participation, economic empowerment, violence against women and girls, peace and security, and national planning and budgeting. With regard to violence against women and girls, we hope United Nations Women will continue to lead the United Nations system in working with member states to implement CSW’s Agreed Conclusions. We must work together to stop violence directed at women due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, violence against women and girls in all intimate partner relationships, including outside formal marriage, and the link between violence against women and sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. Harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation/cutting and early or forced marriage must also continue to be addressed.

Strategic Plan

The United States applauds the new Strategic Plan’s increased focus on gender in the context of humanitarian response, including in post-conflict situations. Humanitarian crises exact a heavy toll on women and girls, and all too often gender is not mainstreamed in humanitarian response. We urge United Nations Women to continue to work across the United Nations system to ensure that planning for and responding to humanitarian crises addresses the unique effects on women and girls, and ensures increased female participation in planning and response.

UN Women (Continuation)

United States views on international law [2] in 2013 in relation to UN Women: We are pleased that United Nations Women has finalized its regional architecture and put in place the foundations for a new field structure. We urge United Nations Women to fill field positions with strong and proven leaders who can ensure that United Nations Women’s support, expertise and services get to those who need them most. This will require dedicated effort to ensure that other United Nations agencies meaningfully integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment into programs and policies across all of their work. Given United Nations Women’s role as the hub of coordination across the United Nations system and with governments, civil society, and other stakeholders, it will also require field leaders who are committed to and excel at coordination with wider stakeholders.

Commitment of UN Women

The United States welcomes United Nations Women’s commitment to accountability and enhanced transparency and, in this regard, welcomes the implementation of its decision to disclose internal audit reports publicly. We note that United Nations Women has allocated additional resources to its audit work, and we support this continued strengthening of the agency’s audit and evaluation capacities.


The US were concerned that mandatory and non-discretionary costs are rising at a faster rate than contributions. We look forward to discussing how best to ensure that United Nations Women’s critical programmatic activities continue to receive adequate funding.


The US were grateful that United Nations Women has pledged to share best practices and help build the capacity of the Equal Futures Partnership, a new multilateral initiative that aims to improve gender equality through new national actions to expand women’s economic empowerment and political participation. We look forward to working with United Nations Women to expand and develop this important initiative.

Executive Director

Finally, the US were looking forward to the Secretary General’s announcement of the next Executive Director. This role is pivotal to the United Nations system’s leadership and advocacy on behalf of women and girls worldwide.



  1. Un Women in the Digest of United States Practice in International Law



  1. UN Women in the Digest of United States Practice in International Law
  2. UN Women in the Digest of United States Practice in International Law

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