|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Economic and Social Council
2014 Substantive Session
22nd & 23rd Meetings (AM & PM)
Economic and Social Council Adopt Eight Draft Resolutions, Including Text
on Mainstreaming Gender Perspective into Work of United Nations System
The Economic and Social Council adopted eight draft resolutions today, including a text on mainstreaming gender perspective into the work of the United Nations system, as the 54-nation organ resumed its coordination and management segment.
By the terms of the draft, titled “Mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system”, the Council requested the United Nations system, including its agencies, funds and programmes, to accelerate the full and effective mainstreaming of a gender perspective by such measures as ensuring strong leadership and support on the part of managers, and by increasing investment in outputs for gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Acting on the recommendation of the Commission on the Status of Women, the Council also adopted a draft resolution titled “Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women”, by a recorded vote of 12 in favour to 2 against ( Canada, United States), with 15 abstentions.
Acting again without a vote, on the recommendation of the Commission for Social Development, the Council adopted six draft resolutions titled respectively: “Future organization and methods of work of the Commission for Social Development”; “Social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development”; “Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all”; “Promoting the rights of persons with disabilities and mainstreaming disability in the post-2015 development agenda”; “Further implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002”; and “Observance of the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and beyond”.
Also without a vote, the Council adopted three draft decisions proposed by the Commission on the Status of Women and the Commission for Social Development.
Participating in the general discussion on gender equality and women’s empowerment were the representatives of Japan, United States, Republic of Korea and Saudi Arabia.
Additionally, the Council heard a briefing on the work of the Chief Executive Board for Coordination (CEB), a body chaired by the Secretary-General and comprising the executive heads of 29 member organizations, including the Bretton Woods institutions.
The Council will meet again on Friday, 13 June, to continue its coordination and management segment.
As the Economic and Social Council opened its two-day coordination and management segment this morning, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on mainstreaming a gender perspective in the United Nations system (document E/2014/63), a note by the Secretariat on the outcome of the fifty-fourth, fifty-fifth and fifty-sixth sessions of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (document E/2014/3), the report of the fifty-eight session of the Commission on the Status of Women (document E/2014/27-E/CN.6/2014/15), and a draft resolution titled “Mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system” (document E/2014/L.12).
Also before the Council was the report of the fifty-second session of the Commission for Social Development (document E/2014/26-E/CN.5/2014/10), as well as the reports of the Secretary-General on the preparations for and observance of the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family in 2014 (document A/69/61-E/2014/4), and on the coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda (document E/2014/64).
Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women
LAKSHMI PURI, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), introduced the report on mainstreaming a gender perspective in the United Nations system (document E/2014/63), saying it provided an update on progress and challenges since the adoption of Council resolution 2013/16 in July 2013. It had a particular focus on progress in implementing the United Nations System-wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. While there had been progress on 14 of the Action Plan’s 15 performance indicators, gaps remained, she said, noting that Section V of the report included recommendations for further progress.
LIBRAN CABUCTULAN ( Philippines), Chair of the fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women, introduced the report of that body’s session (document E/2014/27). The Commission had adopted agreed conclusions on existing commitments, on how Millennium Development Goals addressed the situation of women and girls, and on factors deterring the advancement of women and girls. It had urged stakeholders to strengthen the environment for and maximize investments in gender equality and women’s empowerment. Further, stakeholders were urged to ensure women’s participation and leadership at all levels and strengthen accountability.
The representative of Japan said that the “Japan Revitalization Strategy” published last May considered the success of women as central to development. The immediate goal was to increase the percentage of women in leadership positions to 30 per cent by 2020. As part of its pledge to provide $3 billion over three years, Japan had implemented projects aimed at ensuring access to labour markets and economic autonomy for women living in rural areas, as well as refugee women in countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Guinea and Somalia. Japan would convene the “World Assembly for Women” in Tokyo this September with the aim of creating societies in which women could shine.
The representative of the United States said gender equality and women’s advancement should be a stand-alone goal in the post-2015 development agenda. She commended progress made so far, including the ongoing implementation of the United Nations System-wide Action Plan, but highlighted some areas that needed further attention, including violence against indigenous women and girls, discrimination against older women and early, forced, child marriages.
The representative of the Republic of Korea underlined the persistence of such challenges as high maternal mortality rate and early forced child marriage, particularly in Africa. Gender quality and women’s advancement should be included in the post-2015 development agenda, not only as a stand-alone goal but also as a cross-cutting issue, he said, stressing also the importance of aggregating data by age and sex. Commending the work of UN-Women in its first three years of existence, he said that the twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 2015 would provide another opportunity for the Entity to make further progress.
The representative of Saudi Arabia registered his reservation in relation to the expression “reproductive rights”, as contained in the outcomes, emphasizing the importance of taking culture and religious codes, including Islamic law, into consideration.
The Council, taking up the report of the Commission on the Status of Women report, took action on a draft resolution titled “Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women”, contained in Chapter 1, Section B.
By a recorded vote of 12 in favour to 2 against ( Canada, United States), with 15 abstentions, the Council adopted that text.
The representative of Israel, making a general statement, said the resolution was fundamentally flawed, politically motivated and not helpful to the women it sought to support. Aimed at demonizing Israel, the text lacked any reference to the culture of patriarchy prevailing in the region, which had caused the high illiteracy rate among Palestinian girls and women. More than 30 per cent of married women in the West Bank, and over 50 per cent in Gaza, had been exposed to domestic violence. Nor did the text mention the practice of honour killings among Palestinians. It was deeply disturbing that some of the resolution’s co-sponsors represented countries in which violence against women was widespread and law enforcement lax in protecting them.
Turning to the report of the Commission’s fifty-eighth session (document E/2014/27), the Council adopted a related draft decision without a vote.
Panel Discussion on Gender Mainstreaming
The Council then held a panel discussion titled “The United Nations system: Fit for purpose on gender mainstreaming”, moderated by Ms. Puri and featuring the following panellists: Chibaula David Silwamba, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Zambia; Tatjana Von Steiger Weber, Minister, Permanent Mission of Switzerland; andAnne-Birgitte Albrectsen, Deputy Executive Director of Management, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Ms. PURI, introducing the panel, said that the United Nations system was at a historic juncture in terms of gender mainstreaming, with several intergovernmental processes shaping the Organization’s future direction, providing an opportunity to expedite implementation and ensuring that gender equality and women’s rights featured prominently in the post-2015 era.
Ms. VON STEIGER WEBERemphasized the necessity to understand existing types of gender inequality, saying that sex-disaggregated data provided a sound basis for such analysis. The United Nations could help Member States understand the concept of “gender” in a general sense, she said, explaining that the term was not just about women. It also reflected the cultural and social determination of women and men and the roles both were expected to play. The United Nations could also help Member States institutionalize gender mainstreaming in public policy and administration, enabling them to better use resources on gender-related issues. Without commitment from top management, however, gender mainstreaming would not be addressed properly, she cautioned, underlining the crucial importance of agencies working in a coordinated manner, given the finite nature of United Nations resources.
Mr. SILWAMBA praised the Organization’s efforts to deliver results for both sexes. However, it must bolster efforts to further strengthen normative and operational links in order to transform the post-2015 era, and invest in building mainstreaming capacity at the institutional level in order to better support Member States. Emphasizing the crucial importance of reliable data on gender issues, he said the world body’s policy on data would make a great difference in strengthening national data gathering, calling on the United Nations system to better coordinate support for national statistics systems. He also voiced support for the creation of a stand-alone gender equality target in the post-2015 development agenda. The Government of Zambia had been instrumental in ensuring gender mainstreaming at all levels, and had engaged with the private sector, civil society and traditional tribal leaders to that end.
Ms. ALBRECTSEN said that, although the United Nations system was more fit for purpose in terms of women’s rights and gender mainstreaming than in any other area of development, challenges remained. In terms of universality, rights and equality, it had been boldest and most forthright in the area of women’s rights and empowerment, but it must exert greater efforts in terms of policy, as well as operational and programmatic integration across the system. While emphasizing that gender mainstreaming could not be addressed in isolation from development, she cautioned that “we must not mainstream gender to death”. The greatest violations of women’s rights, and the lack of access to adequate health care and education, occurred in countries experiencing conflict or natural disaster, and among marginalized groups. Member States must adequately fund the coordinating role of the United Nations to implement the Action Plan, she said.
In the ensuing discussion with Member States, the representative of Japan praised the work of UN-Women and pledged his Government’s intention to bolster its support for the agency.
The representative of the European Union Delegation said the agreed conclusions of the Commission on the Status of Women identified critical issues that had not been adequately addressed, notably the lack of gender mainstreaming in the Millennium Development Goals and the need for a related stand-alone target in the post-2015 framework.
The representative of the United Kingdom called on all United Nations agencies to ensure full reporting on gender mainstreaming in order to advance implementation of the Action Plan, saying that a “data revolution” was essential to that end.
Ms. PURI, recapped the discussion, noting that all speakers had stressed the normative value that the United Nations system provided for gender mainstreaming; the links between local and global efforts to that end; and the need to better coordinate efforts among the system’s entities, bolster reliable gender data and investment, and support the universality of gender and its integration into all aspects of the post-2015 development framework.
JEAN-PIERRE GONNOT, Chief, Social Integration Branch, Division for Social Policy and Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the preparations for and observance of the International Year of the Family in 2014 (document A/69/61-E/2014/4), saying it pointed up the need to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, end discrimination against women and ensure more equitable distribution of child-rearing, caregiving and domestic tasks.
SEWA LAMSAL ADHIKARI ( Nepal), Chair of the fifty-first and fifty-second sessions of the Commission on Social Development, said that body had focused on promoting empowerment to eradicate poverty, while ensuring social integration and full employment and decent work for all. The sessions had also highlighted the critical importance of empowerment in expediting implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and ensuring a people-centred post-2015 development framework. The Commission had also discussed, among other topics, the social drivers of sustainable development, social groups and development partnerships, as well as issues concerning older persons and family. It had recommended six draft resolutions and two draft decisions for adoption by the Council.
SIMONA MIRELA MICULESCU ( Romania), Chair of the fifty-third and fifty-fourth sessions of the Commission of Social Development, said 2015 would mark the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family, and the draft resolution before the Council identified ways in which the Commission would consider annual themes on the Council’s work. During 2015 and 2016, the Commission would maintain the two-year review on the theme “Rethinking and strengthening social development in the contemporary world”. In February 2015, it would take stock of progress in achieving sustainable development, and in February 2016, it would further align its work with that of the Assembly on that issue. The theme of emerging issues for 2015 would be decided by the Bureau later this year.
The representative of the International Labour Organization (ILO) then emphasized the need to bring together the environmental, social and economic pillars of sustainable development.
The Council then turned to the Commission’s report on its fifty-second session (document E/2014/26), which contained six draft resolutions and two draft decisions for adoption.
Taking up the six texts contained in Section A of the report, the Council adopted, without a vote, draft resolution I, on “Future organization and methods of work of the Commission for Social Development”; draft II, “Social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development”; draft III, “Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all”; draft IV, “Promoting the rights of persons with disabilities and mainstreaming disability in the post-2015 development agenda”; draft resolution V, “Further implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002”; and draft VI, “Observance of the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and beyond”.
Acting again without a vote, the Council then adopted two texts contained in Section B: draft I, “Provisional agenda and documentation for the fifty-third session of the Commission for Social Development”, and draft II, “Report of the Commission for Social Development on its fifty-second session”.
Action on Gender Mainstreaming Draft
Acting again without a vote, the Council adopted the draft resolution on “Mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system” (document E/2014/L.12), by which it requested that the United Nations system, including its agencies, funds and programmes, accelerate, within their respective mandates, the full and effective mainstreaming of a gender perspective, commensurate with gender equality goals, in accordance with previous resolutions.
Among those efforts are to mainstream a gender perspective in all its operational mechanisms, including the United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks and other development frameworks; ensure that managers provide strong leadership and support, within the United Nations system, to advance gender mainstreaming; increase investment in and focus on outputs and outcomes relating to gender equality and the empowerment of women; and strengthen monitoring, evaluation and reporting so as to allow for system-wide assessment of progress in gender mainstreaming.
The text also urged the United Nations system to continue working collaboratively to enhance and accelerate gender mainstreaming, including through the full implementation of the United Nations System-wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, including ensuring 100 per cent reporting compliance by all relevant entities, in order to meet its targets. The text would have the Organization empower resident coordinators and humanitarian coordinators to promote gender mainstreaming and to expand and strengthen the use by country teams of United Nations Development Group (UNDG) performance indicators on gender equality (gender “scorecard”).
A Secretariat representative said that the text contained no programme budget implications.
YAMINA DJACTA, Director, New York Office, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), introduced the report of the Secretary-General on the coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda (document E/2014/64), saying it contained five recommendations. It called upon Member States to consider, as appropriate, the role of urbanization in sustainable development in their respective national development plans; to formulate and implement urban planning policies aimed at enhancing productivity and equity; to apply urban planning methods in a more systematic manner; to use planned city extension methodologies; and to facilitate the inclusion of all relevant national stakeholders in the preparatory process for Habitat III.
Dialogue with Chief Executives Board for Coordination
SIMONA PETROVA, Director, Chief Executive Board for Coordination (CEB), said that body had a long and privileged relationship with the Council, as the longest-standing and highest-level coordination forum in the Organization’s history. Established by the Council in 1946, it was the main instrument for supporting and reinforcing the coordinating role of United Nations intergovernmental bodies on social, economic, management and related matters. It was chaired by the Secretary-General and comprised the executive heads of 29 member organizations, including the Bretton Woods institutions. CEB’s work was supported by the High-level Committee on Programmes, which focused on policy coherence, the High-level Committee on Management, which supported system-wide coordination on management and administrative matters, and UNDG, which sought to increase the effectiveness and impact of the United Nations development system’s operational activities. CEB addressed key issues of system-wide concern, such as review of national implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, formulation of a post-2015 development agenda, and financing for sustainable development.
The representative of the United States asked during the ensuing discussion how the Board and country teams were promoting partnerships on an ongoing basis as a way to leverage support to address the needs of relatively neglected small island developing States. She also asked about the status of the enterprise resource planning interoperability feasibility process, how much of the United Nations development system’s procurement was done jointly, by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), and individually by United Nations agencies, and what CEB was doing to bring more agencies into that arrangement.
Ms. PETROVA responded by saying assistance for small island States had been at the forefront of the Board’s attention. As its Chair, the Secretary-General had urged Member States to participate in the upcoming Third International Conference on Small Island States, to be held in Samoa early in September. Thus far, 15 had confirmed their participation. CEB members were trying to show how the partnerships of each individual organization, particularly in the fisheries and tourism sectors, could be coordinated to benefit small islands on a broader scale. As a coordinating mechanism, the Board was working to ensure that individual partnerships brought economies of scale and had maximum impact.
As for the interoperability feasibility study, she said the working group led by the head of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) had reviewed all specific terms of reference. There had been a call for final inputs, and a first draft was expected by 2015. Concerning procurement for development, she said there was a greater focus on big budget items through UNOPS, adding that the percentage breakdown of the agencies concerned was available on the CEB website.
In response to a question from the representative of Benin, about the impact of the Board’s work on United Nations action programmes for countries in special situations, such as least developed, landlocked developing countries, small island developing States and countries emerging from conflict, she said CEB was closely following implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action. In 2013, its High-level Committee on Programmes and the Office of the High Commissioner for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small island Developing States had developed an annual progress report on implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action, and the Committee had decided to table a draft resolution on the matter at its thirtieth session.
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