UN Women: First Executive Board meeting

1/25/2011 // Ambassador Morten Wetland presented this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries to The Executive Board of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women on Monday January 24, 2011.

Madame President, Madame Executive Director, distinguished colleagues,
I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries; Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland and Sweden.

We welcome the newly elected Bureau and the President, Ambassador U. Joy Ogwu of Nigeria. We thank our Executive Director, Madame Michelle Bachelet, for her important and visionary statement and for sharing with us her strategy and priorities for the months ahead that are so crucial for operationalizing and implementing the mandate of UN Women.

This mandate is about expanding gender equality and the empowerment of women which are truly questions of human rights and prerequisites for economic growth and development.  No country can unleash its full potential unless women participate fully in political, economic and social and cultural life – on equal terms with men.

Madame President,

Together, the Nordic countries provide close to 40 per cent of UN Women’s budget. As strong proponents of women’s rights and opportunities, we are proud to be here today after years of struggle and negotiations. Starting today, we must all seize this chance to shape a new and effective entity. We are building on experiences of the past. And we are poised to make this entity do better now and in the future.

With the establishment of UN Women, all member states gave full political backing to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment throughout the UN system.  

It is now time to turn our attention to the practical implications that must follow our political commitments. The Nordic countries are fully committed to developing a strong UN Women, both in the normative and in the operational field. In that respect we underline the importance of strong partnerships, at all levels.

Our constituencies stand ready to share their knowledge and experience, as gender equality has been a priority of our countries for many years, both nationally and internationally.

We would also like to express once again our invitation to you, Madame Executive Director, to visit the Nordic countries at your earliest convenience.

Let me now put forward some of the Nordic countries’ considerations and expectations for the months ahead.

We welcome and support the five thematic priorities set out in your action plan.

We recognize that not all can be done at once, and that appropriate sequencing will be essential. 
But from day one:
UN Women must address the issues of internal capacity and human resources.
It must assess the capacities at country level,
And it must present a strategic plan

The main attention of UN Women should be the improvement of women’s rights and opportunities and achieving gender equality in partner countries. We thus underscore the importance of delivering at country level, where most of your budget must be spent.

UN Women must work to reduce and eliminate discriminatory legislation and attitudes, and violence against women. Its major challenges also include the role of men and boys, as well as peace and security.

We expect UN Women to work closely with the larger UN system, both at headquarters and at country level. UN Women’s role should be catalytic, actively promoting gender equality in all sectors of UN policy and programming.
The Nordic countries stress the importance of achieving long-term results. We strongly encourage you to be guided by results-based indicators and results-based management. Documented and effectively communicated outcomes and achievements are key to receiving sufficient resources; and prerequisites for un-earmarked funding and multi-year pledges.

Governments, the UN as a whole, including UN Women, must be held accountable, thus promoting coherence and effectiveness of the whole UN. The collaboration between different UN agencies and partnership with the Resident Coordinator is paramount to succeed.

Some parts of the normative work are difficult to measure in the short term, as tangible impact can take years to emerge.

But difficult means difficult.
It does not mean impossible:

At these critical crossroads it is of vital importance that we set baselines also for the normative work in order to measure results in the future.

The overall vision and strategies should be woven into country level activities that concentrate on:

1. Advocacy and cooperation with Civil Society,
2. Partnership with and support to governments,  focusing on institutions, policies and capacity-building and the five thematic priorities
3. Mainstreaming the gender perspective systematically in UNDAFs and Country Programmes of the entire UN system and promote gender budgeting

We should avoid the trap of taking on many small and isolated projects.

We are prepared to participate actively in open and direct discussions and UN Women should be bold in setting clear priorities.

Madame Executive Director,

We welcome and appreciate the high level of ambition you have set forth in your proposal for UN Women’s first support budget, for approval by the Board. As an Executive Board it is our responsibility to help achieving the objectives of UN Women. We thus expect member states to come forward with solid financial contributions to substantiate their commitment to the new organisation.

Furthermore, we agree with you that it is important to involve the private sector and diversify the resource base. We welcome the Women’s Empowerment Principles and look forward to discussing the forthcoming Resource Mobilization Strategy.

We are all determined to stand by you and stay the course. And help UN Women become a success and engine of change and opportunity.

Thank you.

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