UN Women Annual Meeting of the Executive Board

Last updated: 5/29/2012 // This statement was delivered by Ingrid Mollestad Senior Adviser at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the UN Women Annual Meeting of the Executive Board at May 29.

Mister President,

First of all, I would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to Under-Secretary-General/Executive Director Michelle Bachelet, for her inspiring statement this morning and for her informative presentation of the Report on Progress made on the UN-Women Strategic Plan.

We would also like commend the efforts of UNW staff in this adjustment period - an organization is only as good as its employees.

Congratulations on your accomplishments over the past year.  You have much to be proud of! I would like to reiterate Norway's firm commitment to gender equality and the empowerment of women.  UNW’s mandate is crucial for achieving this. In this regard, the establishment of a Global Civil Society Advisory Group is a very welcome step. 

The progress report bears witness to the considerable efforts that have been made to implement the ambitious strategic plan we endorsed during the annual session last year.

We are pleased to note that UNW is engaged in a broad range of activities and initiatives, responding to its comprehensive mandate. We commend UNW for important progress in many focus areas; for reaching out and developing promising new partnerships; and for being a visible and vocal advocate for gender equality and the empowerment of women across the world. We also thank UNW for drawing attention to some persistent challenges, such as the absence of women in peace negotiations. We appreciate UNWs efforts to address this situation.

UNW refers explicitly and throughout the report to the results framework, which we strongly appreciate. However, as many have pointed out, the reporting shows uneven progress across the main areas and the reporting itself is also somewhat uneven in its quality. We agree with Ms Bachelet that this is a process and also believe that results based reporting will improve in accordance with UN Women’s ambition in this regard. However, it is essential that UNW is transparent and informative also when it comes to challenges and room for improvement in the reporting. We would also welcome UNWs further assessment of the main drivers for, and obstacles to, making progress in achieving its main goals so far, beyond institutional processes.

UNW should maintain its focus on contributing to more effective and efficient UN system coordination and strategic partnerships, fulfilling its catalytic and strategic role. A lot have been done this year. The System-wide action plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (SWAP) is a milestone when it comes to gender mainstreaming in the UN system, and we expect it to become an efficient accountability tool. We encourage UN Women to use this tool actively to hold the rest of the UN system accountable. We look forward to reporting on this.

Mr. President, 

Let me re-iterate the importance of working with men and boys for gender equality.  We are encouraged to learn about UN Women’s partnership with important global partners in this regards, such as the Men Engage alliance. We look forward to future reporting on the results coming out of this work.

UN Women has made very good efforts on mobilising and leveraging more resources and additional donors. However, we are concerned that UN Women remains too dependent upon a few donors.  In 2011 four donors contributed approximately 50 per cent of UN Women’s budget. This is neither acceptable, nor sustainable.  Norway urges all member states to contribute financially to UN Women, at a level commensurate with our political support and the ambitious mandate we have collectively given this important new organization!

The annual report on the UN-Women evaluation function is very much appreciated.  We will follow with great interest the development of an evaluation policy document and hope to see a policy that adheres to UN Evaluation Group norms and ensures the highest UNEG standards for the independence of the evaluation function.

The Regional architecture review responds well to the strategic plan’s intention on strengthening the presence and capacity of UNW in the field. Norway regards this as highly important, and believes that the proposed decentralized model is promising. However, we also look forward to receiving more information and a better understanding of the balance between the different levels as well as an implementation plan and budget implications of the proposal.

Norway would for example like to know whether the planned strengthening of country offices will be completed before removing sub-regional offices, as many of these perform important support functions for country and programme offices.

Recruiting the right people in the right places is crucial to achieve results at the country level.  There is an urgent need to recruit people at higher level, with the necessary experience and authority to work more strategically.

Finally, UNW came into existence in a context of financial crisis and political uprisings in many parts of the world. These events have brought new challenges to women. Our commitment to gender equality may help turn those challenges into possibilities.

Unfortunately, within some UN fora, such as the Commission on the status of women (CSW), a disquieting negotiation climate is developing when it comes to challenging women’s rights and gender equality, such as Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). We recall UNWs role as an advocate for and guardian of women’s rights that have been painstakingly won, and would like to hear more about how UNW assesses this situation.

We have noted and appreciate UNWs input and role in the Rio+20 process and its high level event in Rio that will contribute to underscore the importance of women’s role in sustainable development. We would like to learn more about UNWs future normative efforts when it comes to ensuring a gender equality perspective in the global climate agenda.

We look forward to a constructive meeting with partners that share and support UNWs vision of men and women having equal opportunities, and where gender equality is firmly embedded in all efforts to advance development, peace and security.

Thank you.

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