Press Release 28/6/2011

Notes the civil society consultation in plan preparation, but urges countries and donors to complete financing of the new entity in order to carry it out.

Mabel Bianco, president of the Foundation for the Study and Research of Women (FEIM) and the Focal Point of Latin America and the Caribbean for the GEAR (Gender Equality Architecture Reform) Campaign spoke yesterday (27/6), in representation of the campaign at the second session of the UN Women Executive Board meeting, which is taking place until the 30th of June in New York.

To begin the session, the UN Women Secretary General, Michelle Bachelet, shared a report of what has been done since the creation of the agency in January 2011 and presented the strategic plan for 2011-2013.

"Addressing barriers, such as gender-based violence and discrimination, as well as persistent under-representation in political and economic leadership positions, which hold women back from achieving their highest potential, will take a united and committed effort," said Bianco as she congratulated UN Women on the completion of its first Strategic Plan, which was prepared following a participatory consultation process in countries.

The GEAR Campaign is a coalition of more than 300 groups of women who work for the equality of women, development, human rights and social justice all over the world and have come together for over four years to support the creation of UN Women. The Campaign promotes the participation of civil society in the new organization, advocating the incorporation of human rights and the implementation of promises made to achieve gender equity in this new structure.

The first strategic plan of UN Women was assessed by the GEAR Campaign as a "foundational document" that represents "an important step towards the development of a global agenda that will advance human rights, development, peace and security for all women." However, Bianco noted the necessity that the new gender entity can be "budgeted on an equal footing with other UN agencies," because "without adequate funding, this excellent plan cannot develop properly and will not reach its full potential."

In this sense, Bianco praised the contributions of Spain, Canada, India and Nigeria, but remarked that "$126 million dollars from this year is well below the target of $300 million, and even further from $500 million initially requested by the Secretary General, and the billion requested by the GEAR Campaign." For this reason, the GEAR campaign urged all donors and states to increase their contributions and "fill the gap between current contributions and the schedule."

Moreover, Bianco noted the importance of strengthening the work of UN Women in each country and emphasized that the new entity must assume the task of leading the efforts for incorporating gender equality in the programs of other UN agencies. Finally, the representative of the GEAR Campaign welcomed the commitment by Bachelet to create an NGO Advisory Group and expressed her hope that other formal mechanisms would be established to facilitate civil society participation. "It is essential to hear the voices of women in all their diversity, especially grassroots groups and marginalized women, in order for UN Women to fulfill its mandate and become accountable to the people it is intended to serve," said Bianco.

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