UN Women - United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women was established through a historic General Assembly resolution (A/RES/64/289) on 2 July 2010. This meant a consolidation of four distinct units within the UN system which focused on gender issues.
UN Women became fully operational from January 2011. Its very first executive director was former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet. UN Women is headquartered in New York.
UN Women - focusing on gender issues
The creation of UN Women came about as part of the UN reform agenda, bringing together resources and mandates for greater impact. It merges and builds on the important work of four previously distinct parts of the UN system, which focused exclusively on gender equality and women’s empowerment:
- UNIFEM - UN Development Fund for Women.
- DAW - The Division for the Advancement of Women.
- OSAGI - The Office fo the Special Advisor on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women.
- INSTRAW - The International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women.
The new entity strengthens the role of the UN in advancing the status of women. It also gives a powerful voice for women within the UN system and at the global, regional and local level.
Work of UN Women
UN Women funtions as a secretariat and provides normative and operational policy guidance. In addition, the entity must lead, coordinate and promote the accountability of the United Nations system in its work on gender equality and women empowerment.
Its headquarter is in New York but through close cooperation with regional, national and local organisations, UN Women has set up several offices all over the world. UN Women Sverige is a Swedish national committee that supports UN Women.
UN Women focuses on seven thematic areas:
- Ending violence against women
- Peace and security
- Women’s leadership and political participation
- Economic empowerment
- Governance and national planning
- The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
- HIV and AIDS
United Nations Development Fund for Women, UNIFEM is, since 2011, UN Women.
UNIFEM was founded in 1976 during the Women's Decade 1975-1985. It worked in close association with the UNDP to support women's empowerment and gender equality through its programme offices. It also linked with women's organizations, placing the advancement of women's human rights at the centre.
UNIFEM focused on three strategic areas:
- Strengthening women's economic security and rights
- Engendering governance and leadership
- Promoting women's rights and the elimination of violence against women.
UNIFEM raised the question of women in armed conflict and their contribution to peace processes, and played an active role in initiating a resolution in the Security Council resulting in Security Council resolution 1325 (2000). The resolution includes a gender perspective in armed conflicts and peacekeeping operations.
UNIFEM also initiated further assessment on this issue resulting in the report Women, War and Peace: The Independent Experts? Assessment on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Women and Women's Role in Peace-building.
United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, INSTRAW, was established in 1976 as a response to a request by the World Conference for the International Women's Year in Mexico City. From 2011, INSTRAW is incorporated into the UN Women.
INSTRAW was an autonomous body within the UN with the objective to stimulate and assist in the advancement of women in the development process. This was done through
- collection of data.
Its outreaching efforts included close cooperation with regional and local organizations. The institute also utilized new information and communication technologies in raising awareness of women's human rights and empowerment.
Gender Awareness Information and Networking System
GAINS - the Gender Awareness Information and Networking System - through this system, INSTRAW:
- conducted research on gender equality
- produced training material and programs
- disseminated knowledge for the empowerment of women.
More on UN Women
- UN Women. Information about its structure, programs and activities with links to full text documents and reports, as well as photos and videos.
- Guiding Documents : UN Women. Several international agreements guide the work of UN Women:
- UN Women Strategic Plan
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
- Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (PFA)
- UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security (2000)
- Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- UN Women digital library. Online publications.
Fulltext flagship publications
- Progress of the World's Women is a biennial publication to overview the implementation of the principles of Sustainable Development Goals concerning the empowerment of women.
- World Survey on the Role of Women in Development published at five-yearly intervals, is an in-depth analysis of development issues affecting women.
- The United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women: Annual Report focuses on innovative programs and initiatives to end violence against women.
- Constitutional Database. This website compiles all the different provisions related to gender contained in constitutions in countries around the world.
- iKnow Politics is an extensive platform for information about women in political life.
- Gender Equality & HIV/AIDS Web Portal offers up-to-date information on the epidemic from a gender perspective.
- Gender Equality Evaluation Portal makes available more than 200 evaluations on what works to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment.
- Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) is a web portal with information on gender budget initiatives.
- Knowledge Gateway for Women’s Economic Empowerment offers a user-friendly community where one can find and share resources, materials and tools on women’s economic empowerment.
- Say NO - UNiTE to End Violence against Women is a global platform for advocacy and action on this issue.
- Stop rape now. UN Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict unites thirteen UN entities to support and improve coordination and accountability in the struggle against sexual violence in conflict.
- UN Women Watch. Curated news and events on gender equality from across the United Nations.
- Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls is a resource for evidence-based programming to more efficiently and effectively design, implement, monitor and evaluate initiatives to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls.
More on UN and Women's rights
Since 1950, around 50 conventions relating to women's status have been drawn up, several by the Commission on the status of women:
- United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in Swedish and in English.
- International Instruments and Treaty Bodies. Information on legal instruments and other relevant international standards of particular importance to women's human rights and gender equality, including CEDAW and other treaty bodies.
The official documents from the UN Conferences on Women:
- A/CONF.66, World Conference on the International Women's Year (1975 : Mexico City)
- A/CONF.94, World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women (1980 : Copenhagen) and Corrigendum.
- A/CONF.116, World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace (1985 : Nairobi) and the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women.
- A/CONF.177, United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women : Action for Equality, Development and Peace (1995 : Beijing).
The General Assembly organized a special session to appraise and review the results of the Fourth World Conference on Women in June 2000:
- Beijing +5. Women 2000: Gender, Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st Century - 23rd Special Session of the General Assembly, 5-9 June 2000.
It was followed by further meetings after 10 and 15 years:
The Swedish Foreign Ministry has after each conference published summaries of information about the positions of Sweden, as well as translations of the final documents in the series Aktstycken, published by the Swedish Foreign Ministry.
- The United Nations and the Advancement of Women, 1945-1995 documents the UN's substantial work on women's issues during 50 years. Included are more than 150 documents on women's rights.
See also DagDok: Commission on the Status of Women
Key UN documents
UN documents and publications in catalogues and databases
- United Nations Digital Library offers UN documents and open access publications, UN voting data and speeches, UN maps, Content in 6+ languages. Replaces the traditional online catalogue UNBISnet.
- UN iLibrary UN publications online covering different topics.
- ODS full-text UN documents published from 1993 onward and scanned documents published between 1946 and 1993 in the official languages of the UN.
- Daily list of documents (ODS). Documents published for the day, with full text links, can be found in the United Nations full text database ODS.
- Index to proceedings is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the major UN organs. The index includes:
- a list of all documents
- a comprehensive subject index
- an index to speeches
- a voting chart of resolutions
- United Nations Documents Index (United Nations Digital Library) References to all documents by subject area are published. A collection of indexes is held by the Dag Hammarskjöld and Law Library, Uppsala, and the Libraries at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.