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UN Role

The Platform for Action adopted by the Womenís Conference repeatedly points to the central role that the United Nations system must play in the monitoring of its implementation, but also in facilitating implementation in many areas through its own programmes and policies. It was made clear that UN officials at the highest levels are expected to take responsibility for ensuring the integration of a gender perspective in all the work of the United Nations system and for advancing women within the Organization itself. It was also recognized that the Organizationís ongoing reform and re-vitalization are essential to the effective follow-up to the commitments made in Beijing.

In particular, Beijing called for greater interaction between the key UN bodies under the Economic and Social Council that focus on womenís issues, including the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the Commission on the Status of Women and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

The Economic and Social Council is responsible for overseeing the system-wide coordination of implementation of the Platform and makes recommendations, relying in large part on reports of the Commission on the Status of Women. The Council will devote its 1997 coordination segment to the mainstreaming of gender perspectives into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system. It plans to dedicate at least one high-level segment before the year 2000 to the advancement of women and implementation of the Platform for Action with the participation of the specialized agencies, including the World Bank and the IMF; and to focus one operational activities segment on the coordination of development activities related to gender, based on the system-wide five-year plan with a view to instituting guidelines and procedures for implementation of the Platform by the funds and programmes of the United Nations system.

The Secretary-General, as chairman of the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC), whose members include all heads of agencies and programmes system-wide, has responsibility for coordination of UN policy for the implementation of the Platform for Action. As requested in Beijing, the ACC established an inter-agency committee on women and gender equality in April 1996. This committee is an integral part of the arrangements being established under the aegis of ACC for the integrated and coordinated follow-up on a system-wide basis to recent UN conferences. The Secretary-General also designated an Assistant Secretary-General in his office to be his Special Adviser on Gender Issues to help ensure system-wide implementation of the Platform for Action in close cooperation with the Division for the Advancement of Women. The Special Adviser chairs, in this capacity, the ACC Inter-Agency Committee on Women and Gender Equality, and closely interacts with the other inter-agency task forces.

UN Follow-up

The system-wide medium-term plan for the advancement of women for the period 1996-2001, which reflects the United Nations systemís proposals for action in the follow-up to Beijing, provides a basis for implementation by the United Nations system of the Platform for Action and related recommendations on gender issues formulated by other conferences. Also during this five-year period, implementation of the interrelated mandates of the International Conference on Population and Development, the World Summit for Social Development and the Fourth World Conference on Women, in particular, requires the development of indicators on women and men with respect to the informal sector, decision-making, unremunerated work, poverty, the girl-child and violence against women. It also requires the compilation and dissemination of the database and methodologies underlying these indicators, as well as the provision of technical assistance at the national level in developing countries.

The Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), plays a coordinating role for the system-wide medium-term plan, 1996-2001, and serves as the secretariat for inter-agency coordination for the advancement of women. Based in the Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development (DPCSD), it is the principal unit within the United Nations Secretariat dealing with issues relating to the advancement of women.

The operational role of UNIFEM in the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women is being consolidated. It continues to concentrate its work at the country level within the context of the United Nations Development Programme resident coordinator system. UNIFEM is focusing on womenís economic and political empowerment, supporting womenís organizations to increase leadership opportunities for decision-making and advocacy for women.

Likewise, INSTRAW is identifying those types of research and research methodologies to be given priority, strengthening national capacities to carry out womenís studies and gender research, including that on the status of the girl-child, and developing networks of research institutions to do this work.

International financial institutions and regional development banks have been invited to examine their grants and lending and to allocate loans and grants to programmes for implementing the Platform for Action in developing countries, especially in Africa and the least developed countries. The IMF, the World Trade Organization and the World Bank, along with the organizations and bodies of the United Nations system, assist countries with economies in transition to design and implement policies and programmes for the advancement of women.


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© Copyright United Nations 23 May 1997 | Department of Public Information | Revised 23 May 1997