description for a Gender Focal Point within the United Nations
The gender focal point position has the role
to support the Under Secretary-General and senior managers to
carry out their responsibility to implement gender mainstreaming
in the substantive work programme. The position is not linked
to the promotion of gender equality within the department -
i.e. to promotion of gender balance, work/life issues, harassment,
including sexual harassment and a gender sensitive work environment.
These issues are taken care of by the Departmental Focal Points
The gender focal point reports to, and should
receive support from, senior management. There should be a clear
mandate for the position; a specific percentage of the time
of the person appointed to the position should be allocated
for this work; and the work of the gender focal point should
be included in the PAS (Performance Appraisal System).
The gender focal point is not a full-time position;
persons appointed as gender focal points normally have other
areas of responsibility. The work of a gender focal point is
to support gender mainstreaming by advocating, advising and
supporting professional staff and monitoring and reporting on
progress - if necessary through the use of / support from consultants
or external specialists. Dissemination of information and competence
development, through training and seminars, is also part of
the work of the gender focal points.
Gender focal points are not necessarily specialists.
Individuals appointed to this position may have some experience
in promoting gender equality or may be completely new to this
work. If the gender focal points appointed have not worked with
gender mainstreaming they should be provided with opportunities
for professional development throughout their term of office,
including an initial programme of competence development, and
should have access to advice and support from gender specialists
in other parts of the Secretariat.
Functions of the Gender Focal Points
Act as adviser on gender mainstreaming to the
- Provide advice on request on gender perspectives
in all aspects of the work of the department, using own resources
or outside expertise.
- Represent the Under-Secretary General, on
request, at workshops and events where information on gender
mainstreaming in the department is requested.
- Assist in the preparation of speeches and
other presentations on gender mainstreaming by the Under-Secretary
General and other senior managers, using own resources or
- Attend important relevant events on gender
and the substantive area covered by the department at international
leve, to disseminate information on progress made in gender
mainstreaming in the department, as relevant.
Policy, strategy and action plan on gender
- Support the development of a short policy
statement, to be endorsed by senior management, which provides
a framework - the mandate, rationales and goals - for the
work of the department on gender mainstreaming, using consultants
or other resources as necessary.
- Develop, on the basis of the policy statement,
and an inventory of the roles and work methods of the department,
a strategy, to be endorsed by senior management, to be included
in the medium-term plan. This strategy should outline the
overall approach to gender mainstreaming to be taken in the
headquarters (and in the field where relevant) and designating
responsibility and accountability throughout the department,
using consultants or other resources as necessary.
- Develop an overall action plan, to
be endorsed by senior management, outlining the initial concrete
actions to be taken by the department on a biennial basis,
to be included in the programme budget.
Analysis, knowledge development and information activities
- Support the preparation, at an early stage,
(if this has not already been done in the department) of an
issues-paper on gender perspectives in the substantive work
of the department which would outline the linkages - i.e.
the ways in which gender perspectives are relevant and important
to what the department does - as the basis for efforts to
promote gender mainstreaming. Particular attention should
be paid to the synergies and to the ways in which mainstreaming
a gender perspective can support the achievement of the goals
of the department. Revise the issues-paper as needed over
- Develop, maintain and disseminate a
comprehensive knowledge base on the gender perspectives in
the area of work of the department to promote the professional
development of staff in this area and provide information
as required for different purposes.
- Develop and disseminate a collection of good
practice examples of gender mainstreaming in different types
of work carried out in the department.
- Maintain a library of materials on gender
and the area of substantive work for the department, and produce
user-friendly and operationally-oriented summaries of key
documents for broad dissemination in the department, using
consultants as necessary.
Support to gender mainstreaming in headquarters
The gender focal point would be expected to
advocate for greater attention to gender perspectives, providing
the necessary rationales and advice on approaches to support
gender mainstreaming throughout the department. This requires
that the gender focal point understands the work of the department,
what the relevant gender perspectives are, and how these perspectives
can be incorporated into on-going work, or can be supported
with external resources. The following activities would be included,
carried out with any additional needed support from outside
- Advice and support to senior management at
policy level and other staff members at operational level.
- Development of necessary methods and tools,
such as overall guidelines and guidelines for specific processes
and the work of different parts of the department.
- Initiation of a competence development programme,
if not already carried out, and initiate on-going activities
to increase the professional capacity of all staff in gender
mainstreaming, using own resources or outside expertise.
Support to gender mainstreaming in the field,
The gender focal point should support the work
of the gender units and gender specialists in the missions,
where these exist. Concrete actions can include:
- Establish a system of regular communication
- Provide relevant information from headquarters
on a regular basis, from the department as well as from other
part of the United Nations.
- Visit the missions to gain adequate knowledge
of the potentials and constraints, and the work environment,
in order to be able to provide better support.
- Provide links to researchers, consultants
and funders on request.
Where such gender units or gender focal points
do not exist in the field, other mechanisms for supporting and
monitoring gender mainstreaming need to be developed. These
- Visits to the missions to advise, support
and monitor progress.
- Provision of regular information, including
good practice examples, guidelines and tools based on the
experience from other missions
- Meeting specific requests for support,
including links to consultants and funders.
Regular monitoring and reporting
on gender mainstreaming
An ongoing process of monitoring will take place
through participation in strategic policy-making and through
the daily contacts with other staff members in relation to the
operational work. The gender focal point will also need to develop
mechanisms of regular monitoring and reporting, with necessary
support from outside experts.
- Develop indicators for assessing progress
with gender mainstreaming, adapted to the various types of
work in different parts of the department.
- Prepare reports for the Under-Secretary
General on a regular basis, with copies to the Special Adviser
on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women.
- Collect, analyse and disseminate on a regular
basis, statistics on the representation of women in all processes
and bodies established in the work of the department, to provide
a holistic picture of the representation of women in the work
of the department.
- Monitor the achievement of the goals set
out in the Platform for Action and the Outcome Document from
the GA Special Session to review the Platform for Action (2000)
and prepare the contributions of the department to the rolling
reports to the CSW, ECOSOC, and the GA, and other reporting
requirements within the UN.
- Arrange for the preparation of special reports
as needed, on particular gender issues.
Representation, collaboration and resource
The gender focal point should:
- Collaborate, as relevant, with the Departmental
Focal Point for Women.
- Attend the meetings of the Network of Gender
Focal Points and any competence development activities organized
by the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and
the Advancement of Women.
- Represent the department at the ACC Interagency
Meeting on Women and Gender Equality and other UN events on
gender equality, such as follow-up to the twenty-third special
session of the General Assembly to review the implementation
of the Platform for Action.
- Maintain contacts with Member State delegations,
as relevant and appropriate, and develop regular contact with
NGOs and academics working with gender perspectives in this
- Develop, maintain and disseminate a resource-base
of gender specialists with relevant competencies in the area
of work of the department which can be used throughout the
department as necessary