Women in the United Nations

As a standard-setting organization, the United Nations has a particular responsibility to lead by example in ensuring the equal and active participation of women at all levels of the UN system. This is also necessary for integrating a gendered perspective into UN policies and programmes. UN Women is mandated to lead, coordinate and promote the accountability of the UN system for women's equal representation.

The Charter of the United Nations stipulates that there shall be no restrictions on the eligibility of men and women to participate in every capacity and under conditions of equality in the system's principle and subsidiary organs. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights reinforced this principle, stating that there can be no distinction or discrimination on the basis of gender.

The UN General Assembly has set numerical targets on the representation of women from as early as 1986. In 1995, the Beijing Platform for Action established a goal of 50:50 gender balance for UN staff at the professional levels and above, to be achieved by 2000.

Today, the goal of gender parity applies to all categories of UN staff posts, without regard to the type or duration of appointment, the series of staff rules under which the appointment is made, or the source of funding.