From an online gender pay gap tracker to scholarships and employment opportunities for ex gang members, UN DESA honours innovative public services

Before the programme, they had little hope for escaping the vicious cycle of violence, street wars, crime, incarceration and poverty. But the government of Manizales municipality in Colombia refused to give up on young gang members and offered them something they never had – a way out.

Thanks to scholarships and job offers extended under the “Change your mind. Build Peace” programme of Manizales, over 30 young people were able to leave the streets and rejoin the society. This successful, innovative programme to address youth crime is one of the eight winners of this year’s UN Public Service Awards.

The awards – the most prestigious international recognition of excellence in public service – are granted every year by UN DESA on the UN Public Service Day. Institutions from around the world are honoured for their creative achievements that lead to more effective and responsive public administrations. Since 2003, UN DESA has received over 3000 nominations from around the globe in areas from health to education to accountability and to gender equality.

“Public service is a critical component for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “But we need to pioneer new approaches, work differently, take risks and innovate. This means training in new skills and building the capacities of the public sector.  And it means seizing the potential of technological innovations to create more responsive, efficient and collaborative public services.”

The 2018 edition of the Awards highlights innovations to make public service delivery effective and responsive as a path towards achieving the SDGs, stressing the key principle of leaving no one behind.

This year’s winners come from: Austria, Colombia, Spain, Kenya, Thailand, Republic of Korea, Indonesia and Switzerland.

Category 1: Reaching the poorest and most vulnerable through inclusive services and partnerships

Austria – Talents for Austria

The initiative aims at integrating  unaccompanied minor asylum seekers into Austrian life through a combination of primary care, education, job training and placement and other forms of ongoing support. This initiative was developed in response to changes in migratory patterns in Austria, as well as the changing needs of the Austrian labour market. The initiative has achieved some very positive results. Compared to similar institutions, ten times more students are placed by “Talents for Austria” as of September 2017 both in education and apprenticeships.

Indonesia – Reducing Malaria Cases Through Early Diagnosis and Treatment (EDAT)

This initiative aims to reduce the elevated levels of malaria cases in Bintuni Regency. It is a collaboration between various stakeholders in the local government, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. The initiative has been successful in engaging the community to help reduce malaria cases in the region through early treatment, increased drug delivery and disease prevention.

Category 2: Making institutions inclusive and ensuring participation in decision-making 

Republic of Korea – Tax Administrative Division

To enhance transparency and efficiency in government financing, the Republic of Koreas has introduced an initiative that allow its citizens to view online the budget execution status. This initiative was developed by the provincial government in Chungcheongnam-do Province and was adopted by all local governments in the country in November 2015.

Colombia –  Change your mind … Build Peace

The programme was developed to establish a dialogue with young members of criminal groups. It uses innovative practices to reduce violent crime in the city’s neighbourhoods. It was developed by the city of Manizales to provide new and lasting economic opportunities to the poorest and most vulnerable young people in the city who belonged to gangs and were immersed in social conflict.

Spain – Citizen Participation Project

The project created a new, direct communication channel between the citizens and their local government. A website run by the city of Madrid allows citizens to learn about government initiatives and project proposals, and provide their feedback directly to the government by voting or commenting on each individual proposal. This initiative allows the citizens to have a very tangible and direct impact on the governance of Madrid, increasing positive outcomes as well as enhancing trust in local government.

Category 3: Promoting gender responsive public services to achieve the SDGs

Kenya – Promoting Gender responsive public service to achieve the SDGs

The initiative was designed to address several challenges regarding gender in public service. It has helped women and youth to develop skills in the area of agriculture value chain development. For example, it has helped Kenyan women to organize themselves in cooperatives and receive better price for the milk they sell.

Thailand – Integrated approach to comprehensive cervical cancer control

This initiative focuses on providing cervical cancer treatment to women in remote and rural areas. It has allowed for quick diagnosing and treatment, vaccinations for 95 per cent of young women against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and high rates of screening for cervical cancer. Thailand’s initiative began in the Roi Et Provincial Health Office (PHO) but was expanded to 30 provinces across Thailand and even implemented abroad.

Switzerland – Switzerland Advancing Gender Equal Pay SAGE

The initiative was developed to help close the gender pay gap by introducing a tool for comparing salaries and a charter for the public sector which calls for regular checks on the status of equal pay. It provides justice for women, enhances fair competition in the workplace for employees between companies and reduces poverty in single parent households.

The Awards will be presented to the winners at the United Nations Public Service Awards Ceremony in Marrakesh, Morocco on 23 June – the UN Public Service Day.

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