Nepali human rights defender Saathi Roundtable, explaining how a new strong international agency for women could benefit women locally:
“If we wash with a bucket of water and start from our feet, the water is wasted washing only our feet. But if we pour the water over our heads, we can wash our whole body.”
The United Nations is a galvanizing force in setting new international standards and commitments to protect and promote women’s human rights especially those at risk of violence, or facing poverty. But the UN’s capacity to support national implementation of these international agreements is woefully underfunded and inadequate. This has limited the potential for women around the world to fully enjoy their rights in practice.
The four small UN agencies exclusively dedicated to women’s issues lack the necessary status, funding and country presence to enable the wider UN system and national authorities to fully implement their obligations. Other, larger UN agencies, sometimes can make a difference, but advancing women’s human rights and gender equality is usually a small part of their mandate. And none of these agencies are adequately supporting the important work of women’s human rights defenders.
In September 2009, after years of persistent campaigning by women’s human rights advocates around the world, all 192 member states of the UN General Assembly finally adopted a resolution agreeing to the creation of a consolidated and stronger UN agency for women.
According to Charlotte Bunch, Founding Director of Center for Women’s Global Leadership, USA, “the General Assembly has at last taken decisive action to create a new gender equality entity on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the Beijing women’s conference in 2010. It is a great victory for women’s rights as well as for the coalition of women’s and other civil society organizations. Now we must ensure that it is a robust and transformational body, capable of advancing the realization of women’s rights on the ground, urgently and effectively.”
In order to achieve this, the agreed new women’s agency urgently needs sustained political commitment from all governments and immediate, substantial funding to ensure its effective establishment and success.
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