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United Nation’s single new agency ‘UN Women’ announced – 15.09.10

Ambujam Ramanujam

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday announced a new agency – UN Women – headed by former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, to oversee all programmes aimed at promoting equality for women.

‘Ms. Bachelet brings to this critical position a history of dynamic global leadership, highly honed political skills and uncommon ability to create consensus and focus among UN agencies and many partners in both the public and private sector,’ Ban said at the UN headquarters in New York.

‘I’m confident that under her strong leadership, we can improve the lives of millions of women and girls throughout the world,’ Ban said of Chile’s first female head of state.

He said the creation of UN Women is the fruit of four years of effort to achieve one of his priorities as secretary-general.

The process to select the head of UN Women began shortly after the General Assembly approved the plan for the new agency in July 2009 and a 26-member selection committee proposed three candidates.

Ban chose Bachelet, who the committee unanimously endorsed, he said.

UN Women

UN Women, by amalgamating four United Nations agencies and offices, is to create a new single entity within the Organization to promote the rights and well-being of women worldwide and to work towards gender equality. It is set to become operational in January 2011 and will merge the UN Development Fund for Women, the Division for the Advancement of Women, the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues, and the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women.

The agency’s status will be comparable to that of Unicef and Bachelet will hold the rank of deputy secretary-general.

The General Assembly adopted a resolution on 14.09.2010 on improving system-wide coherence within the UN, and the text spells out the support of Member States for a new consolidated body – to be headed by an under-secretary-general – to deal with issues concerning women.

The resolution means the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Division for the Advancement of Women, the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (UN-INSTRAW) will be merged.

In a statement issued today by his spokesperson, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was “particularly gratified” that the Assembly had accepted his proposal for “a more robust promotion” of women’s rights under the new entity.

“An important step has been made in strengthening the United Nations’ work in the area of gender equality and empowerment of women, as well as in ensuring the effective delivery of its operational activities for development, which constitutes the other key components of the resolution,” the statement noted.

Mr. Ban said in the statement that he had appointed more women to senior posts than at any other time in the history of the UN, including nine women to the rank of under-secretary-general. The number of women in senior posts has increased by 40 per cent under his tenure.

The Assembly’s resolution tasks Mr. Ban with providing Member States with a comprehensive proposal outlining the mission statement, structure, funding and oversight of the new entity so that it can be created as soon as possible.

The resolution also calls for greater measures to harmonize business practices within the UN development system, ways to improve the funding system for such activities, and other steps to streamline practices within the world body.

After the resolution, UNIFEM – which currently operates in autonomous association with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) – issued a statement welcoming “the unanimous strong support” among Member States, which follow three years of extensive consultations on the structure and operational details of the new body.

“UNIFEM trusts that deliberations can resume soon ensuring an informed and swift establishment of the composite entity,” the statement said.

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