United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

24 September 1996



General Assembly
Fifty first session
Agenda item 103

                             ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN

                         Note by the Secretary-General

     The Secretary-General has the honour to transmit to the General
Assembly the report on the activities of the United Nations
Development Fund for Women, prepared pursuant to Assembly resolution
39/125 of 14 December 1984.


                Report on the activities of the United Nations
                       Development Fund for Women, 1995


                                                              Paragraphs Page

 I.   INTRODUCTION .........................................     1 - 3     3

II.   PROGRAMME ............................................     4 - 31    3

      A. Overview .........................................      4 - 16    3

      B. The economic empowerment programme ...............     17 - 19    5

      C. The political empowerment programme ..............     20 - 25    7

      D. Building partnerships within the United Nations
         system ...........................................     26 - 31    8

III.  MANAGEMENT ...........................................    32 - 34    9

      EXTERNAL EVALUATION ..................................    35 - 43    9

                               I.  INTRODUCTION

1.   The present report provides a review and update on the programme
of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and
describes initiatives undertaken by the Fund in 1995.  It also
highlights UNIFEM's initial response to the recommendations of the
external evaluation of the Fund and their implications for

2.   Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 39/125 of 14 December
1984, UNIFEM is mandated (a) to support innovative and experimental
activities benefiting women in line with national and regional
priorities; (b) to serve as a catalyst, with the goal of ensuring the
appropriate involvement of women in mainstream development activities,
as often as possible at the pre-investment stage; and (c) to play an
innovative and catalytic role in relation to the overall United
Nations system of development cooperation.

3.   In supporting activities that benefit women, UNIFEM remains
committed to ensuring that women are full participants of the
development process both as agents of change and as beneficiaries.  By
serving as an effective advocate for women, UNIFEM brings the gender
component to every aspect of the development agenda.

                                II.  PROGRAMME

                                 A.  Overview

4.   Paragraph 335 of the Platform for Action adopted by the Fourth
World Conference on Women calls upon UNIFEM to focus its follow-up
actions to the Conference on women's political and economic

5.   Accordingly, the Consultative Committee of UNIFEM at its
thirty-sixth session, held in New York from 31 January to 2 February
1996, approved the two thematic areas, economic and political
empowerment, and specific subthemes for action. 

6.   Under economic empowerment UNIFEM supports substantive programming
and advocacy work in the following areas: 

     (a)  Globalization and economic restructuring with special
emphasis on trade policy and new technologies;

     (b)  New approaches to enterprise development with special
emphasis on the enabling environment, including linking women
entrepreneurs to innovative financial sources;

     (c)  New approaches to assisting women to minimize threats to and
maximize opportunities for sustainable livelihoods including
preventing undue harm to ecological balance in view of new global
economic changes.

7.   Under political empowerment of women UNIFEM focuses on the
following subtheme areas:

     (a)  Gender and governance with emphasis on promoting
gender-sensitive policies, legislation and processes; 

     (b)  Women's human rights, with emphasis on the facilitating
women's increased access to international machinery in place in the
human right area and violence against women;

     (c)  Peace-building and conflict resolution with emphasis on
women's roles in peace-building.

8.   With regard to violence against women, UNIFEM was requested by the
General Assembly in its resolution 50/166 of 22 December 1995 to
establish a trust fund to strengthen its activities for the
elimination of violence against women. Accordingly consultations have
been completed and it is envisaged that the trust fund will become
operational shortly.

9.   The Consultative Committee also provided policy guidance to and
approved UNIFEM efforts to participate in and support activities of
the United Nations system-wide coordinated initiatives in the
implementation of gender aspects of recommendations emanating from
recent United Nations conferences, including the United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development, the United Nations
Conference on Human Rights, the International Conference on Population
and Development, the World Summit on Social Development, the Fourth
World Conference on Women and the United Nations Conference on Human
Settlements (Habitat II).

10.  In the post-Beijing period UNIFEM has devoted its efforts to the
implementation of the Platform for Action at the national and regional
level in the recommended programme areas and the implementation of
follow-up to recent world conferences sponsored by the United Nations
with regard to their gender dimensions.

11.  The Consultative Committee also approved a programme that enables
UNIFEM to analyse, publish and disseminate findings and lessons
learned from both its own work and experiences gathered in partnership
with international, United Nations system, regional and national
organizations and networks on promoting women's political and economic
empowerment.  In that connection UNIFEM supports publications, public
information, media and constituency-building activities. 

12.  As the operational and advocacy organization for the empowerment
of women, UNIFEM collaborates with the Secretary-General's Special
Advisor on Gender Issues, the Division for the Advancement of Women
and the International Training and Research Centre for the Advancement
of Women (INSTRAW) to promote women's and gender issues in the United
Nations system.  In that regard, UNIFEM has been designated to chair
the working group on operational activities of the Committee on Women
and Gender Issues, an inter-agency coordination mechanism for
system-wide follow-up to the implementation of the Beijing Platform
for Action, established by the Administrative Committee on

13.  At the request of members of the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP)/United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive
Board, an external evaluation of UNIFEM has been carried out and
completed over the period from February to June 1996.  The report of
the external evaluation was presented at the September session of the
UNDP Executive Board.  In the paragraphs that follow information is
provided on UNIFEM programme strategies since the Fourth World
Conference on Women.  UNIFEM will review these strategies in the light
of discussions and recommendations of the Executive Board.  Due
account will also be taken of the recommendations of the current
session of the General Assembly.

14.  As the operational organization within the United Nations system
mandated to bring about the empowerment of women, UNIFEM is ensuring
that the recommendations of the Beijing Platform for Action are
translated into catalytic programmes.  Empowerment is the process of
increasing women's access to resources at all levels so as to enable
them to have greater control over their own lives, over the means of
making a living on a long-term basis and, ultimately, greater
influence over the direction of their communities and society as a

15.  UNIFEM's operational and advocacy work for the empowerment of
women encompasses collaboration with:

     (a)  National Governments, to strengthen their capacity to
engender policies and programmes and to develop the tools necessary
for gender-responsive national development planning; 

     (b)  Women's organizations and networks, to build and promote
their capacity to advocate for their issues;

     (c)  United Nations system agencies and bodies, to keep women's
issues high on the agenda of mainstream United Nations organizations. 

16.  UNIFEM promotes dialogue between national Governments and women's
organizations, thereby involving civil society more fully in
development planning and increasing accountability of national
Governments to the concerns of women at all levels.  The Fund then
documents its work and widely disseminates best practices and lessons
learned so as to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of
development interventions. 

                    B.  The economic empowerment programme

17.  Women constitute over 70 per cent of the one third of the world's
population living in absolute poverty, and their numbers are growing. 
Their impoverishment has been exacerbated in large part by the
transformations taking place in the world through trade
liberalization, rapid technological changes, industrialization,
structural adjustment programmes and environmental degradation.  In
recognition of the importance of correcting that trend, it is critical
that the United Nations place emphasis on the role of women's economic
empowerment in strategies for poverty eradication.  UNIFEM defines
economic empowerment as having access to and control over the means of
making a living on a sustainable and long-term basis and receiving the
material benefits of that access and control.

18.  During 1995-1996, the economic empowerment programme worked at two

     (a)  At the policy level, helping women to understand better the
implications of globalization and economic restructuring their lives
and to increase the capacity of women's organizations to intervene in
policy-making processes on their own behalf.  Particular focus was put
on trade policies, the impact of new technologies on women, and the
conditions of the growing numbers of women home-based workers around
the world;

     (b)  At the micro-level, developing and demonstrating innovative
ways of directly assisting women to minimize threats to and maximize
opportunities for sustainable livelihoods in view of these global
economic changes.  In particular, it has concentrated on issues of
access to credit, markets, training, improved technologies, relevant
information, land and management of natural resources on which women's
productive sustainable livelihoods can be based.

19.  The progress UNIFEM has made towards meeting its overall objective
of assisting women to become economically empowered include:

     (a)  Within the context of globalization and economic
restructuring, key policy issues such as trade, new technologies and
conditions of home-based workers have been identified and strategies
for programming in these areas developed.  Some steps have also been
taken in implementing these strategies in terms of creation of
networks (trade, new technologies, credit, science and technology);
packaging and dissemination of information (sourcebooks and
guidelines); mobilization of women for advocacy (strategy workshops);
and formulation of recommendations for action (workshop reports on
trade/new technologies/science and technology/credit).  Moderate
success has also been achieved in terms of influencing policy makers
and making international policy documents more gender-sensitive
(Committee on Science and Technology for Development, home-based
     (b)  With respect to support to women's sustainable livelihoods,
benefits such as increased productivity of women's enterprises;
creation of jobs for women; increased ability of women to handle
technology and to solve problems; increased income for women; and an
increase in women's self-confidence and well-being have been observed
in the course of the implementation of UNIFEM's innovative pilot
projects.  Of particular interest is the extent to which UNIFEM
support is enabling women to become more and more independent of the
intermediary institutions that have given them initial assistance. 
This is due in large part to the strategy used in most projects of
linking women with local sources of technical expertise, with sources
of raw materials, with legal mechanisms, with markets and with
commercially available credit so that they have access to the
necessary inputs and services to be viable.

                    C.  The political empowerment programme

20.  Women's political empowerment means women's increased control over
their lives both inside and outside the household so as to enable them
to improve the institutions that shape their lives and to promote the
building of stable lives in conflict-free societies.  At both the
Fourth World Conference on Women and the related non-governmental
organization forum in Huairon, women demanded a world where they are
empowered politically and economically.

21.  UNIFEM's response to that demand since the Fourth World Conference
on Women was the development of a holistic programme that focuses on:

     (a)  Women in governance and decision-making at all levels;

     (b)  Peace-building and conflict resolution;

     (c)  Human rights and violence against women.

The goal of the programme is to ensure the participation of women at
all levels of development planning and practice.

22.  Under the theme of governance, UNIFEM is continuing to build on
its three-pronged strategy to (a) create an enabling environment where
the legal and social status of women is improved, and more gender-
sensitive policies and plans are not only developed but also
implemented; (b) strengthen the women's movement so that it is able to
create an enabling environment and effect social change; and (c)
promote women's enhanced leadership and participation.

23.  Under the theme of peace-building and conflict resolution, UNIFEM
is intensifying its efforts to empower African women who have been
displaced from their home communities and to promote gender-sensitive
strategies and actions in peace-building and conflict resolution.  The
programme uses a twofold approach:  (a) advocacy and capacity-building
activities; and (b) direct assistance projects that have an integrated
approach to the practical and strategic needs of women in crisis.

24.  UNIFEM work on human rights promotes the principle that the
protection of women's human rights is fundamental to ensuring women's
self-realization and full participation in their societies.  The
programme's specific approach is (a) to strengthen the capacity of
women's organizations to advocate for women's human rights nationally
and internationally; (b) to increase women's understanding of, access
to and use of the international human rights machinery; and (c) to
bring women's human rights concepts into the mainstream of the United
Nations system in order to improve the accountability of the United
Nations for protecting the human rights of women and to contribute to
increased United Nations system-wide cooperation and coordination on
women's human rights issues.  In addition, UNIFEM has focused on the
issue of violence against women as an obstacle to development.

25.  In recognition of UNIFEM's pioneering efforts at the operational
level in the area of violence against women, the General Assembly
adopted resolution 50/166, which calls for strengthening UNIFEM
activities in support of international, national and community efforts
towards the elimination of violence against women.  Pursuant to the
resolution, the Trust Fund on Violence against Women has been
established and is expected to become operational in late 1996. 
Priority will be given to activities in the following areas: 
awareness-raising, capacity-building, legal literacy, training,
action-related research and innovative and catalytic projects.  A
special appeal has been sent to all UNIFEM governmental and
non-governmental organization partners requesting contributions to the
Trust Fund.

          D.  Building partnerships within the United Nations system

26.  UNIFEM supports the principle of exchange of information and
networking.  UNIFEM has a close working relationship with other United
Nations agencies, Governments, non-governmental organizations and the
international women's movement.  It has played a critical role within
the United Nations in linking the priorities and practices of these
various partners.

27.  In all the recent United Nations world conferences (see para. 9)
UNIFEM has worked with a large number of organizations before, during
and after each conference to create political space for women's voices
to be heard, consensus to be forged and action to be taken.  As a
result of its connections to a worldwide network of women's
organizations, experts, activists and women at the grass-roots level,
UNIFEM is able to help them place their issues on these international
agendas and before national and regional forums.

28.  UNIFEM is providing technical support to United Nations resident
coordinators to assist in the implementation of the Platform for
Action at the national level.  UNIFEM work complements the work of
other gender-in-development programmes, including UNDP activities,
that are charged with bringing gender issues to the fore.

29.  UNIFEM has chaired the Working Group on Women's Empowerment for
the implementation of the International Conference on Population and
Development.   The Working Group has developed guidelines to
facilitate collaboration among United Nations agencies and between the
United Nations system and its partners in government and civil
society.  UNIFEM has also collaborated with the United Nations
Children's Fund (UNICEF) to build links between the Committee on the
Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the
Rights of the Child.  UNIFEM and UNICEF are also working in
partnership to promote the participation of women and girls in

30.  UNIFEM is working closely with Rosario Green, the Special
Political Advisor to the Secretary-General on gender issues.  Of the
three working groups that have been planned under the Administrative
Committee on Coordination Inter-agency Committee on Women and Gender
Issues, UNIFEM is the secretariat for the working group on operational

31.  While core resources to expand UNIFEM's outreach to developing
countries is the preferable option for resource increase, additional
resources will also be sought on an earmarked basis to undertake
specific types of projects and programmes in key areas of importance
to women.  For example, UNIFEM has already experienced considerable
success in raising earmarked funds for projects in the areas of
elimination of violence against women and in peace-building.  UNIFEM
would also mobilize earmarked funds for other activities, including
for its proposed flagship publication on the status of women's
economic and political empowerment for documenting the women's
movement as a force for social change.

                               III.  MANAGEMENT

32.  On 15 August 1994, the Administrator of UNDP appointed Noeleen
Heyzer (Singapore) the new Director of UNIFEM.  Ms. Heyzer brings
extensive experience in the areas of programme implementation and
policy-centred research, as well as overall sustainable human
development, to her new position.

33.  During 1995, UNIFEM pursued a vigorous fund-raising strategy to
secure contributions for core resources and co-financing activities
from both traditional and new donor Governments, the private sector
and individuals.  As a result, for the year ended 31 December 1995,
income rose to $20.4 million, exceeding the initial estimate of
general and earmarked resources expected for the year.

34.  Efforts to increase UNIFEM resources and broaden its resource base
resulted in an expansion of the number of Governments announcing firm
pledges for 1996.  In November 1995, during the United Nations
pledging conference, 30 Governments announced pledges, compared to 17
in 1994.  During that time, UNIFEM received firm pledges of $5.71
million for 1996, which represents an increase of $1.52 million from
1995.  These firm pledges, when combined with informal contacts with
donors who did not pledge, indicate that, in 1996, UNIFEM can expect
to receive an estimated $13.250 million from 56 donor Governments. 
This represents an 11.5 per cent increase over the initial estimates
of 1996 government contributions.  UNIFEM will continue to intensify
its resource mobilization over the years to come.

     EXTERNAL EVALUATION                               

35.  As has been noted above, following the Fourth World Conference on
Women, UNIFEM was given a strengthened mandate to work on the economic
and political empowerment of women.  Accordingly, it restructured its
programme into two major thematic areas - economic empowerment and
political empowerment - so as to better address these key issues. 
Within each theme, attention was focused on selected subthemes,
including globalization and economic restructuring; sustainable
livelihoods; governance; human rights; and peace-building and conflict

36.  In the light of the evaluation report, which suggests that UNIFEM
needs to sharpen its focus within the two themes of economic and
political empowerment of women, an initial assessment of the
activities that UNIFEM will carry out within these themes and an
assessment of the strategies to be used in implementing its work has
been undertaken.  This is aimed to help the Fund to build on the
strengths and to address the challenges highlighted by the evaluation.

37.  UNIFEM will focus on five strategies:

     (a)  Undertaking pilot and demonstration projects in order to
identify, design, implement, monitor, evaluate and document projects
that experiment with new and innovative models of development
assistance with a view to providing models for use by other agencies;

     (b)  Strengthening women's organizations and networks in order to
provide financial and technical support to local, national, regional
and international women's organizations (governmental and
non-governmental) and networks.  This support will be directed towards
enhancing the sustainability of the organizations that UNIFEM

     (c)  Undertaking advocacy and mainstreaming activities in order to
make policy makers and planners in key institutions, development
practitioners, and the general public more aware of gender and
development issues, and to increase their involvement in lobbying for
policy change; to demonstrate methodologies and approaches for
engendering development policy and planning at the global, regional
and national level; mainstreaming a gender perspective into the work
of other United Nations organizations; and acting as a resource base,
within the United Nations system, for the implementation of gender
issues and concerns into country programmes and initiatives;

     (d)  Brokering relations in order to establish effective linkages
are established between non-governmental organizations, Governments,
United Nations and other international agencies, and the private
sector; and to encourage political and financial support for women;

     (e)  Documenting and disseminating information in order to
document lessons learned through UNIFEM's experiences in key areas so
as to disseminate information to a range of interested and involved
countries, agencies and individuals.

38.  This particular mix of strategies will enable UNIFEM to respond to
many of the recommendations made in the evaluation.  Overall, UNIFEM
will support projects that are more strategic in that they will
purposely aim to develop or demonstrate new methods of supporting
women and to assist with advocacy, awareness-raising, brokering and
capacity-building.  More time and resources will be made available to
ensure the adequate design, monitoring, evaluation and documentation
of project experiences.  In addition, because all projects will be
linked thematically, it will be easier to learn lessons and build on
individual activities at both the community and national levels.

39.  The increased focus on advocacy, awareness-raising, brokering and
documentation will also allow UNIFEM to respond to large numbers of
women through information sharing, while its more systematic design of
pilot and demonstration projects will allow it to be proactive and to
become more innovative within its chosen themes.

40.  UNIFEM is also aiming to respond more comprehensively to the
recommendations of the evaluation relating to project design,
monitoring, evaluation and documentation.  In addition, UNIFEM will
draw on the lessons learned from the evaluation in its future work.

41.  The evaluation pointed out the crucial importance of UNIFEM's
outreach in terms of UNIFEM programme in the regions.  However, it
also pointed out the strain of the demands on UNIFEM and the amount of
time and financial resources available.  UNIFEM also sees the need to
expand its outreach to women in programme countries so that eventually
it will be able to extend support to a greater number of women while
building on the synergy of its partnerships with Governments, civil
society and local organizations at the national, regional and global
levels.  With a doubling of its core programme resources, it would be
possible to strengthen the impact of UNIFEM in the programme

42.  UNIFEM will pursue the goal of increasing its core resources in
support of its outreach to developing countries.  However, additional
resources will also be sought on earmarked basis to undertake specific
types of projects and programmes in key areas of importance to women. 
For example, UNIFEM has already experienced considerable success in
raising earmarked funds for projects in the areas of elimination of
violence against women and in peace-building.  UNIFEM would also
mobilize earmarked funds for other activities, including for its
proposed flagship publication on the status of women's economic and
political empowerment and for documenting the women's movement as a
force for social change.

43.  UNIFEM will provide a further report in 1997 on its substantive
programme taking into account the recommendations of the external


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