GEAR - UN Comprehensive Proposal For The Composite Gender
GEAR Campaign Response to the Report of the UN Secretary-General - Comprehensive Proposal for the Composite Gender Equality Entity
The Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR) Campaign, a network comprised of more than 300 women's, human rights, and social justice groups from around the world has been actively engaged in the process of working to reform the United Nations gender equality architecture over the past four years. The GEAR team has met regularly with UN officials and Member States, provided substantive input to the various documents prepared by the UN Secretariat, and coordinated civil society participation in the process.
In this context, the GEAR Campaign welcomed the September 14, 2009 General Assembly's decision to support the consolidation of the existing four UN gender equality entities into a composite womens entity (Resolution 63/311) and its request for a comprehensive proposal outlining key organizational arrangements for the new women?s entity. We are pleased that, in response to this General Assembly request, the Secretary-General has now produced the report including organizational recommendations for the new entity, for consideration by Member states during this 64th session of the GA.
The Comprehensive proposal for the composite gender equality entity moves the process forward and addresses many of the key issues that are critical for the launch of the new womens entity. We support the Secretary-Generals report as a guideline for taking action to set up the entity. However, it does not adequately address several important issues related to country level operational capacity, long term funding for the entity, civil society participation, and the timeline for the appointment of the Under Secretary-General. Following is an analysis of some of these concerns in relation to our Campaigns key principles. We hope this will contribute to the intergovernmental discussion and to a resolution setting up a strong and effective gender equality entity as a result of these negotiations.
Country level presence/operational capacity
- We support the universal country presence outlined for the entity and the description of the Composites work as flexible, varying from country to country, with its functions performed in accordance with the needs and circumstances of each host country. This is consistent with the UN Delivering as One?s principles of country ownership, and an understanding that one size does not fit all.
- Strengthening the UN's programming capacity for women's empowerment and rights at the country level has always been a top priority for GEAR in seeking a new entity, and this needs to be central to the resolution creating it. However, we note that the order of functions of the entity has been changed in this report from what it was in previous DSG papers of August 2007, July 2008 and March 2009, which led with country driven programming. Further, the wording has been modified in ways that could weaken or downplay the importance of the entity's operational capacity on the ground.
- For example, The report positively indicates in Para 9-e that the new entity will lead and coordinate the UN system actions on gender equality including within the UN country team. However the paper goes on to describe it in ways that sometimes imply a subsidiary entity putting emphasis on its need to work through others rather than on its leadership and its own programming capacity.
- The functions of the Composite entity at the country level in relation to monitoring intergovernmental agreements has also been weakened to say only support member states in implementing and monitoring international agreements (Para 6-d and 9-c). The GEAR Campaign believes that the entity should play a significant role and monitor Member states implementation of relevant UN processes/agreements (see GEAR Campaign analysis of DSG Institutional Options paper). It is insufficient to only have Member states monitor their own actions, thus being both judge and party of their commitments to gender equality and women's empowerment.
- On the issue of /accountability of the UN System/, we are concerned by the language with the leadership and strong support from the resident coordinator that the Composite entity will help strengthen the UN country teams commitments to achieve results on gender mainstreaming. Based on experience, the GEAR Campaign sees the need for a clear definition of the entity's role as the leader for gender equality at the operational level in countries, that is to be a strong driver on these issues, regardless of whether it has support from the UNCT. More needs to be spelled out about how the entity would be able to hold the UN system accountable for gender mainstreaming and lead the work on gender equality at all levels.
- With respect to the strong country presence, the report fails to propose a firm timeline backed with adequate resources and concrete commitments by Member States for achieving growth that the DSG paper of March 5, 2009 clearly called for and that we hope the resolution will address.
- Financial architecture/Funding
- The GEAR Campaign welcomes the report?s provision that the Executive Director will have full authority in respect to all financial matters.
- The report sets the total funding requirement for the start-up phase at approximately US $500 million, with $125 million for basic support capacity at all levels for normative and operational support, and $375 million in catalytic funding for country-specific programmatic support. The GEAR Campaign has called for a budget of US $ 1 Billion and the proposed $500 million falls short of what is needed to achieve effective gender mainstreaming throughout the system and catalytic gender equality programming at the country level. We can support the $500 million as a starting figure, but it is essential that Member states recognize that there will need to be increases over time.
- The GEAR Campaign urges member states to pledge adequate multi-year core funding NOW to enable the Composite entity?s effectiveness and its success at delivering for women worldwide. **
Civil society participation
- The GEAR Campaign has called for systematic and meaningful participation of civil society, especially women's organizations in the new entity. The report does not propose adequate mechanisms for Civil Society involvement in the new entity, proposing only an Advisory board to the USG. The organizational chart and structure only mention a liaison with civil society and NGOs, which is less than a previous DSG's paper that clearly noted that the new entity would develop solid partnerships with women's organizations and other stakeholders so as to ensure that the programme best meets the needs of women on the ground. (DSG paper, March 5, 2009 -para 43) We suggest using such clearer language in the resolution setting up the entity.
- We are disappointed that references to women?s organizations throughout the report are few and not aligned with previous Secretariat reports highlighting the need to find meaningful ways to tap into the expertise of these groups.
- While the proposed global civil society advisory board to the USG is a welcome mechanism for participation, we believe it is imperative that there be such advisory groups comprised of representatives from civil society, especially women's organizations, at regional, and national levels as well.
- The GEAR Campaign has developed in consultation with its broad global membership, a set of criteria outlining the competences that we believe a ?strong, dynamic and capable USG should possess, which is attached for your consideration.
- The Secretary-General's report provides little clarity on what an open, transparent and rigorous recruitment process for the Under Secretary-General post will entail and fails to provide any timeline for this critical appointment, which we believe should begin now.
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