Economic and Social Council

Coordination Segment

 

Agenda item 4 (a) Review and appraisal of the system-wide implementation

of the Councilís agreed conclusions 1997/2 on mainstreaming

a gender perspective into all policies and programmes

of the United Nations system

 

2 July 2004

 

Statement by Carolyn Hannan, Director

Division for the Advancement of Women

Department of Economic and Social Affairs

 

Mr. Vice-President

Excellencies,

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

It is my pleasure to welcome you to this meeting of the ECOSOC Coordination Segment. I am honoured to present the Secretary-Generalís Report on ďReview and appraisal of the system-wide implementation of the Council's agreed conclusions 1997/2 on mainstreaming the gender perspective into all policies and programmes of the United Nations system.Ē

 

The Report of the Secretary General has been prepared in response to ECOSOC resolution 2003/49 of July 2003. It draws on information gathered from United Nations entities, the work of the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women and the Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality, as well as on previous reports of the Secretary-General to the Commission on the Status of Women, ECOSOC, and the General Assembly since 1997.

 

Gender mainstreaming was clearly established as a global strategy for promoting gender equality, alongside specifically targeted activities, in the Platform for Action adopted at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. The importance of gender mainstreaming is specifically mentioned in relation to all twelve of the Critical Areas of Concern identified in the Platform for Action. The Platform for Action established that gender analysis should be undertaken on the situation and contributions of women as well as men in all areas before actions are taken, such as development of policies or programmes.

 

In 1997, the Economic and Social Council took a critical step in translating this commitment from the Fourth World Conference on Women into practice.In adopting its agreed conclusions 1997/2, the Council emphasized its desire to promote a coordinated and coherent policy of gender mainstreaming. To that end, the Council clarified the concept of mainstreaming and the central principles associated with it.Perhaps most importantly, the Council addressed specific recommendations to all actors within the United Nations system.It gave direction to the intergovernmental processes, and also spelled out the institutional requirements for gender mainstreaming in all policies and programmes.

 

The ECOSOC agreed conclusions (1997/2) defined gender mainstreaming as ďthe process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels, and as a strategy for making womenís as well as menís concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated.Ē

 

The importance of the gender mainstreaming strategy was reinforced in the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly to follow-up the implementation of the Platform for Action (June 2000). Other intergovernmental bodies and major global events since 1997 have also provided important mandates for gender mainstreaming in specific areas of the work of the United Nations. A major breakthrough on gender mainstreaming in the area of peace and security, for example, was achieved with the Security Council resolution 1325 (October 2000) which clearly states that there is an "urgent need to mainstream a gender perspective into peacekeeping operations".

 

Following the establishment of the critical framework for gender mainstreaming in the agreed conclusions 1997/2, the Economic and Social Council has continued to play a critical role in promoting and facilitating the implementation of gender mainstreaming. ECOSOC resolution 2001/41 called for attention to gender perspectives in the work of ECOSOC and all its functional commissions, as well as in the integrated and coordinated follow-up to global conferences. A new agenda item was established on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system, specifically to monitor and evaluate progress and obstacles in gender mainstreaming, and to consider further measures to enhance attention to gender perspectives. The review being undertaken in the Coordination segment today will make an important contribution to furthering the full implementation of gender mainstreaming. It will provide critical inputs into the review and appraisal of implementation of the Platform for Action to be undertaken in the Commission on the Status of Women in 2005, where there will be a strong focus on gender mainstreaming. It will also contribute to the review of the Millennium Declaration to be held in 2005.

 

Mr Vice-President, Excellencies and distinguished participants,

 

The report before you in document E/2004/59 provides an overall analysis of gender mainstreaming in the United Nations system and at intergovernmental level since 1997. It highlights achievements, gaps and challenges that the Council may wish to focus on in the review and appraisal of implementation. The report assesses progress in the United Nations system in relation to policy, strategy and budget frameworks,programmes and operational activities, and institutional arrangements, including gender specialist resources, capacity-building, data and indicators, monitoring and evaluation and accountability. It highlights the contribution of interagency collaboration, in particular through the Inter-agency Network on Women and Gender Equality. The report also assesses progress in increasing the attention to gender perspectives in the integrated and coordinated implementation and follow-up to the major conferences and summits, as well as in the work of the General Assembly and its subsidiary bodies, the Economic and Social Council and its functional commissions and the Security Council.

 

The report concludes that gender mainstreaming remains a critical strategy for promoting gender equality and empowerment of women and the ECOSOC agreed conclusions remain a valid framework for gender mainstreaming and should continue to guide the efforts of the United Nations. While considerable efforts have been undertaken to implement gender mainstreaming across the United Nations system, and significant achievements have been made - for example in the area of development of specific policies and strategies on gender equality, capacity-building and development of methodologies and tools - a lot remains to be done before the commitments on gender mainstreaming in the Platform for Action and the ECOSOC agreed conclusions are fully implemented.

 

The gap between policy and practice remains a major constraint. While gender-specific policies and strategies, capacity-building programmes, methodology development, and interagency collaboration have been developed, full implementation of gender mainstreaming requires further efforts to integrate gender perspectives into other policies and strategies in different sector areas, into all capacity building programmes, into methodology development initiatives in all areas, and into different forms of inter-agency collaboration, including thematic groups at country level.

 

Significant challenges remain at the institutional level. These include underdeveloped monitoring and accountability mechanisms; inadequate availability and ineffective utilization of gender specialist resources; and lack of systematic use of gender analysis as the basis for policy and programme development, including because of lack of capacity.

 

The report concludes that inter-agency collaboration has significantly enhanced the use of the gender mainstreaming strategy and should be further encouraged. Areas where significant contributions have been made by collaboration through the Inter-agency Network on Women and Gender Equality include policy development, capacity-building, methodology development, advocacy and outreach and monitoring and evaluation. Recommendations in the report are addressed to both the Inter-agency Network on Women and Gender Equality as well as to other inter-agency mechanisms.

 

The report highlights the significance of progress made in mainstreaming gender perspectives at the intergovernmental level on efforts undertaken and progress made within the United Nations system. A number of recommendations to address remaining gaps and challenges are addressed to the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Commission on the Status of Women, other functional commissions, and to the governing bodies of agencies, funds and programmes.

 

Mr Vice-President, Excellencies and distinguished participants,

 

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that four Conference Room Papers complement the Secretary-Generalís report. The Conference Room Papers are focused on gender mainstreaming in operational activities (E/2004/CRP.1); the work of the Inter-agency Network on Women and Gender Equality in promoting and supporting gender mainstreaming (E/2004/CRP.2); gender mainstreaming in peace and security (E/2004/CRP.3); and gender mainstreaming in intergovernmental processes (E/2004/CRP.4). An additional document has been made available at the back of the room as an information resource. This provides a compilation of baseline information on gender mainstreaming in United Nations entities, focused on key elements of gender mainstreaming, including mandates, specialist resources, methodologies and tools, and monitoring and evaluation.

 

In conclusion, like all strategies, gender mainstreaming is only as good as it is implemented. The review and appraisal of implementation of the agreed conclusions 1997/2 in the Coordination Segment provides an important opportunity to build on achievement made and lessons learned and to identify and address the main gaps and challenges hindering full implementation.

 

I wish you success in your deliberations.

 

Thank you.