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The report notes that the UN has updated its System-wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and the UN country System-wide Action Plan gender equality scorecard to include new indicators on normative and development results in the context of the SDGs and to strengthen overall alignment.

The UN has “almost reached” gender parity in its senior leadership and is “well placed” to be ahead of the goal of 2021.

To ensure adequate financing, the Secretary-General has established a high-level task force on financing for gender equality to review and track UN budgets and expenditures across the system.

April 2019: The UN Secretary-General reported on progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment across the UN system. Recommendations focus on how the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and other UN entities can support accelerated gender mainstreaming in UN policies and programmes.

In 2012, the UN agreed on the UN System-wide Action Plan (UN-SWAP) on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (GEEW), which implements the 2006 UN System-wide Policy on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. UN-SWAP presents a framework for aligning accountability for gender equality and women’s empowerment through the UN-SWAP at the individual entity level, the UN Country Team-SWAP Scorecard at the UN Country Team level and development results at country and normative levels. In 2018, the UN system launched a second generation of the UN-SWAP, which builds on lessons learned from UN-SWAP 1.0 and aligns with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its focus on results.

Another system-wide strategy, launched in September 2017 by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, addresses gender parity. It provides a roadmap for reaching gender parity within the UN’s senior levels of leadership by 2021 and across the UN by 2028. The strategy addresses setting targets, special measures, senior appointments, mission settings, and the enabling environment and organizational culture.

The report of the UN Secretary-General titled, ‘Mainstreaming a gender perspective into all polices and programmes in the UN system’ (E/2019/54), addresses system-wide advances on gender equality and the empowerment of women in 2018. The report analyzes findings from 66 UN entities’ reporting under the UN System-wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and 24 country teams that completed the UN country System-wide Action Plan gender equality scorecard. The report also incorporates information from the UN Sustainable Development Group’s strategic summaries of coordination results in 2018 for 131 UN country teams.

Only 2.03% of UN development system expenditures are allocated to gender equality and women’s empowerment.

In the report, the UN Secretary-General states his commitments to strengthening the gender architecture of the UN system by “achieving gender parity, encouraging dedicated gender expertise and strengthening systematic gender mainstreaming,” including through UN reform and enhanced measures to address sexual harassment. On gender parity, the UN has “almost reached” gender parity in its senior leadership and is “well placed” to be ahead of the goal of 2021. The UN has achieved gender parity among resident coordinators and has a historically high number of women heads and deputy heads of peacekeeping missions.

The Secretary-General observes that only 2.03% of UN development system expenditures are allocated to gender equality and women’s empowerment; as part of efforts to ensure adequate financing, he reports that he established a high-level task force on financing for gender equality to review and track UN budgets and expenditures across the system. The task force is expected to ensure that all UN entities and agencies adequately invest in gender equality by July 2019 by recommending financing targets, establishing baselines and considering how to meaningfully increase resources without leveraging additional resources. In addition, the Secretary-General will encourage the inclusion of gender analyses in his statements and reports to intergovernmental bodies and to stress gender balance in UN delegations, meetings and panel participation.

On implementing accountability frameworks, the report states that the UN updated the System-wide Action Plan and scorecard to include new indicators on normative and development results in the context of the SDGs and to strengthen overall alignment. The updated frameworks also include stand-alone performance indicators on leadership. At the entity level, the report states that 58% of all ratings were in the “meets” or “exceeds” category, compared with 32% in 2012.

At the country level, the UN country teams in Nepal and Uzbekistan scored the highest on the gender equality scorecard, with 73% and 67% of indicators, respectively, falling into the “meets” and “exceeds” categories. The report cautions, however, that there is significant variation among country teams and indicators, with 13 UN country teams missing the minimum requirements for between five to eight indicators, six UN country teams failing to meet the requirements for three indicators, and 13 country teams missing the requirements for two or fewer indicators. The indicators for engagement with government and joint programmes ranked the highest, with 100% and 78% of the 24 assessed country teams, respectively, meeting or exceeding requirements. Areas identified for improvement include indicators related to gender equality results, monitoring and evaluation and common country analysis, which the report suggests indicates a need to improve the design of gender-sensitive monitoring frameworks and actionable mechanisms for tracking changes in relevant indicators.

On gaps and challenges, the report states that improvements “remain unacceptably slow” with regard to both the equal representation of women and resource allocation. However, it expresses optimism that the system-wide strategy and task force on financing will strengthen progress. The report further observes that almost no UN country teams are setting and meeting a financial target for promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, in contrast to the entity level. Other challenges include poor performance on the coherence indicator and the need for increased capacity and funding to address identified challenges.

The report proposes numerous recommendations for ECOSOC to consider at its substantive session in 2019. Recommendations include:

  • Exercising leadership and support at the highest levels for gender mainstreaming in all policies and programmes;
  • Enhancing accountability for progress towards implementing system-wide accountability frameworks for gender mainstreaming, including through regular reporting;
  • Increasing efforts to integrate a gender perspective in non-traditional technical areas of work, such as energy and infrastructure, to ensure that related policies and programmes address the needs and priorities of women and girls;
  • Assessing and addressing persistent capacity gaps in gender mainstreaming, including through mandatory training for staff, including senior managers, and linking performance objectives on gender equality and the empowerment of women to capacity building;
  • Accelerating development of a harmonized gender markers across the UN system to track and monitor gender-related resource allocation and expenditures; and
  • Supporting, at the request of Member States, the adaptation of the system-wide action plan on gender equality and women’s empowerment to promote gender mainstreaming and accountability for it in national institutions.

Specifically on the SDGs and 2030 Agenda, the report recommends: enhancing gender mainstreaming and gender equality results across the 2030 Agenda by strengthening system-wide common methodologies for reporting on contributions to the SDGs; ensuring a dedicated gender equality outcome and gender mainstreaming across all SDG-related outcomes, indicators and targets; bolstering regional and country-level quality assurance processes to ensure that common analyses and frameworks are informed by robust gender analyses and reinforce the cross-cutting linkages of SDG 5; and investing adequate financial and human resources for gender mainstreaming commensurate with targeted entity commitments and enhancing financing for gender equality in implementing the 2030 Agenda. [Publication: Mainstreaming a gender perspective into all polices and programmes in the UN system [UN-Women Webpage on UN-SWAP] [UN Website on System-wide strategy on gender parity]

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