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GEAR Campaign calls for sustainable funding for UN Women

[Brussels, 12 December 2011] In a Statement to the Executive Board of UN Women on 5-7 December, GEAR Campaign representative, Charlotte Bunch of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL), called for increased and sustainable funding for the new UN’s women’s rights agency. The EWL was previously the European Coordinator of the GEAR campaign which culminated with the establishment of UN Women in July 2010. Read the full Statement below or download the PDF version here.

Madame Chairperson:

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR) Campaign, a network of over 300 women’s rights, development, human rights and social justice groups around the world that worked for over four years with UN member states and the UN Secretariat to help create UN Women. The GEAR Campaign pledges to continue to engage with the new entity in the effort to realize its potential and to implement UN promises made to women over many years. GEAR also advocates for the meaningful participation of civil society in UN Women’s work and for robust funding for the new entity.

We are pleased with the Executive Director’s comprehensive report today with on plans and budgets for the next stage of UN Women’s operations and in particular its emphasis on strengthening the work at country level. We agree with the necessity outlined by Under-Secretary-General Bachelet of adding more staff, especially in the field, with greater expertise on gender equality and with the status and ability to work at the level of other counterparts in UN Country Teams. We also urge a greater collaboration with civil society in field, which often has this expertise.

This Executive Board gathers today after one year of UN Women’s operations, at a critical time in the growth of the entity with the task of approving its institutional budget estimates for 2012-2013. GEAR supports this budget but is deeply concerned that the entity will not be on an equal footing with other UN agencies unless the budget increases even more rapidly than what is outlined here.

The expectations of UN Women for performance and results are equally high, if not greater than for other UN entities. We know all too well that in the absence of adequate resources, the well–laid plans and great expectations for the entity will fall far short. UN Women must be equipped with greater immediate as well as long term predictable multi-year core funding – comparable to the core commitments made to other UN funds and programs – if it is to succeed in its ambitious normative and operational functions on behalf of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

We thank all current donors and particularly those who have increased their contributions. But we call on Member States, and especially on members of the Executive Board to meet their commitments to the Entity and to contribute accordingly. We urge all donors to scale up their contributions, and we remind Member States that a substantial increase in financial support is vital to ensuring that UN Women is successful in building a solid foundation for the future.
The report also notes that UN Women must go beyond the sum of its parts to achieve its mandate not only by scaling up its country presence but also by strengthening system-wide coherence and leading efforts to mainstream gender. We welcome recent initiatives around greater coordination with the rest of the UN system. But if UN Women lacks adequate funding to foster the fulfillment of such
goals, it will be seriously weakened. The Executive Board is responsible for ensuring sufficient resource mobilization for UN Women and we call on the leadership of all the ‘contributing’ Board Members to be champions in seeking to fill this gap between the level of financial contributions as it stands now and the resources needed.

We recognize that in the absence of adequate funds from governments, UN Women must also seek funds from the private sector. But in doing so, we urge UN Women to be ever mindful of the social repercussions of this and to ensure that these sources are not in conflict with UN Human Rights standards, especially in relation to women’s human rights.

Finally, GEAR also notes, as referred to in the Institutional Budgets Estimates Report, that formalized engagement with civil society advisory groups at the global, regional, and country levels is critical for UN Women to fulfill its mandate and be accountable to the people it serves (p34, para.9). We specifically welcome the Executive Director’s commitment to creating an NGO Advisory Group and hope that UN Women will take action soon to create the group. In addition, it is essential to have women’s voices heard in all their diversities – especially grassroots and marginalized women – and this requires that UN Women devise both formal and informal methods of engagement with civil society in all areas of its thematic and country work.

The GEAR Campaign will continue engaging with UN Women and the members of its Executive Board toward the achievement of its goals and the implementation of its strategic plan. We are particularly eager to engage at the national and regional level with expanding the UN Women presence on the ground and look forward to increased funding for this vital work.

Madame Chairperson, I thank you for your attention.

This Statement is avaialble for download in:

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