Gender mainstreaming in the United Nations operational activities

Coordination Segment

2 July, 2004


Opening remarks by the Moderator

Carolyn Hannan, Director

Division for the Advancement of Women

Department of Economic and Social Affairs





Distinguished delegates,

Representatives of the NGO community and the UN system,



It is my privilege to support the work of the Chairperson by moderating this panel. I am delighted to see so many participants which is illustrative of the commitment to further the implementation of the important strategy of gender mainstreaming at operational level.


The panel is the first in a series of events organized on the second theme of the ECOSOC Coordination segment: “Review 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 in the United Nations system.”


A Conference Room Paper (E/2004/CRP.1) has been prepared to support discussions on gender mainstreaming in operational activities. An issues paper prepared specifically for this panel has also been distributed.


ECOSOC agreed conclusion 1997/2 on mainstreaming the gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system defines gender mainstreaming as a “process of assessing the implications of women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies and programmes, in all areas and at all levels.” The agreed conclusions make specific reference to gender mainstreaming in operational activities.


The Millennium Declaration highlighted that gender equality is critical for sustainable development and eradication of poverty and hunger. Achieving gender equality, through gender mainstreaming in operational activities, is a prerequisite for effective outcomes of United Nations system programmes and activities. Responsibility for gender mainstreaming in operational activities must be clearly located at both Headquarter and field office levels.


Mr Chairperson, Distinguished participants,


I would like to briefly highlight some of the gaps and challenges - identified in the preparation for the review of implementation of agreed conclusions 1997/2 - that need to be explicitly addressed to ensure increased implementation of gender mainstreaming in operational activities.


The Common Country Assessments (CCA), United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAF), Poverty Reducation Strategy Papers (PRSPs), and the Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP), are critical tools for gender mainstreaming. A recent assessment of the CCA/UNDAF process found that, although there had been some progress in mainstreaming gender perspectives into CCA/UNDAF documents, less attention had been given to follow-up by incorporating gender issues in country programming. It is important to move beyond diagnosis to applying the outcomes of gender analysis to planning and implementation of activities. Attention to gender equality also tended to be limited to few sectors where the gender perspectives were relatively well-known, such as education and health. Other critical areas, such as economic development, environment, infrastructure, had been neglected. The importance of gender equality for all areas of development needs to be further emphasized.


Inter-agency collaboration has been important for promoting implementation of gender mainstreaming in operational activities. Gender Theme Groups have made important catalytic contributions, including through advocacy, capacity-building, technical support and community interventions, particularly related to consultation with women’s groups and networks. However gender mainstreaming requires that all country level theme groups, covering issues such as HIV/AIDS and human rights, incorporate gender perspectives into their work.. Full implementation of gender mainstreaming will not be achieved if all responsibility is left to gender specialists.


Other constraints identified include lack of capacity to apply the results of gender analysis at a practical level; inadequate allocation of resources; lack of  mechanisms to ensure monitoring, reporting and accountability; inadequate consultation with and involvement of women’s groups and networks; and lack of systematic collection of relevant data for gender equality and of disaggregation by sex. Identifying ways to increase the systematic reporting of country level offices to headquarters on their gender mainstreaming activities, and ensuring greater dissemination of lessons learned and good practices within and between entities, would be very useful.


            A number of key questions have been raised in the review process, which I hope will be addressed in the presentations or in the ensuing dialogue:


·        How can capacity to carry out gender analysis and apply the findings in a practical manner be facilitated?


·        How can monitoring, evaluation and reporting from field level to headquarters be strengthened?


·        What type of accountability mechanisms need to be in place to ensure that all staff in operational activities take responsibility for implementation of gender mainstreaming in operational activities?


·        How can existing gender specialist resources be strengthened where necessary and more effectively utilized?


·        How can United Nations entities in the field enhance support to the gender mainstreaming efforts of Governments?


·        What types of collaboration with NGOs would strengthen gender mainstreaming?


Thank you.