“Inequality in society is not a new phenomenon. And yet it can be fatal. If left unchecked, it can undermine the very foundations of development and social and domestic peace.” And “Gender is a primary marker of social and economic stratification, and as a result, of exclusion”. “There are societal costs to continued gender inequality”. These are the quotes from the UNDP report on inequality launched last week. The importance of gender mainstreaming in the UN’s development efforts has yet again been substantiated and confirmed.
The United Nations System Wide Action Plan on gender equality and the empowerment of women (SWAP) has been in place for little more than a year. It has been rolled out under the leadership of UN Women. We are encouraged by the fact that it has already resulted in significant and, in some cases, immediate shifts in how the UN approaches its work on gender equality.
This Action Plan is an example of what the UN system is able to achieve when coordinated, at corporate and country level. I would like to commend the UNDP, UNFPA, UNOPS, UNICEF and WFP for the progress made in integrating a gender perspective across all fields of activity. The performance report prepared for this meeting tells us that we are on the right track. It also says that we can do better. The challenge is to translate policy commitments into practical action on the ground.
The Strategic Plans approved by the Executive Boards of all six entities have incorporated the Action Plan, in line with the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review. Each entity will be held accountable and will report on performance. Each entity will also be required to address gaps towards meeting set standards. I would like to encourage UN Women to continue to provide technical assistance to the other five entities to improve their capacity to meet the requirements of the Action Plan. We look forward to the first reports on QCPR-implementation also in this regard.
To many, "mainstreaming" means the opposite of targeted approaches. The concern is that "mainstreaming" means losing sight of the end goal, and makes the perspectives of women and girls invisible.
We know that mainstreaming is challenging. Mainstreaming means joint programming, coordination and cooperation among the six entities. This requires focus and determination from the leadership of the UN, at HQ and at regional and country level. There are good lessons learned from UN country teams in "Delivering as one" countries. They have demonstrated how the UN can speak with one voice on gender equality issues in the field.
What gender mainstreaming really means is integrating the perspectives and needs of half the world´s population into all UN activity - as a matter of necessity. Mainstreaming means no longer labelling women and girls only as "vulnerable groups", but focusing on their contribution to society. Mainstreaming means ensuring that women participate on an equal footing in planning and implementation in disaster risk management, in humanitarian intervention, in development, in conflict prevention and in post-conflict recovery.
I would like to stress that no single UN entity has "ownership" of gender equality and women's empowerment. It is owned by all. Norway will continue to support and hold all UN entities accountable for implementing this agenda. The UN’s contribution to reducing gender inequality must be stepped up.