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TOWA R D A MOR E FE MINI S T UNI T E D N AT ION S September 2016 This paper articulates a vision for a more feminist UN and recommends both transformative and practical steps that can be taken by a number
TOWA R D A MOR E FE MINI S T UNI T E D N AT ION S September 2016 This paper articulates a vision for a more feminist UN and recommends both transformative and practical steps that can be taken by a number of actors, including the next Secretary-General, to achieve it. The principles and recommendations outlined here have been offered by leading, feminist thinkers in civil society, philanthropy, academia, as well as current and former UN staff. They were collected and collated by Sarah Gammage, Lyric Thompson and Rachel Clement of the. The following recommendations, which are directed to various levels at which reform is urgently needed, are the result of this group s brainstorming and represent a starting point that would, if implemented, begin to correct this imbalance and to foster a more feminist United Nations. We are grateful to all of the individuals and organizations, including the following, who have agreed to be recognized for their contributions: Radhika Balakrishnan, Faculty Director Center for Women s Global Leadership, Rutgers University Kavita Ramdas, Senior Advisor to the President on Global Strategy, Ford Foundation Joanne Sandler, Senior Associate, Gender at Work and former Deputy Executive Director of UNIFEM Bridget Burns, Advocacy and Communications Director, WEDO Aisling Swaine, Associate Professor of Practice of International Affairs, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University Paula Donovan, Co-Director of AIDS-Free World and its Code Blue Campaign Lisa McGowan, Solidarity Center Natalia Escruceria, Program Coordinator Power & Protection of Women Activists, JASS (Just Associates) Jennifer Olmsted, Professor of Economics, Drew University, Madison, NJ, and former Gender Advisor, UNFPA 1 Towards a More Feminist United Nations INTRODUCTION Founded at the end of the Second World War with the explicit aim of maintaining world peace and international security and upholding respect for human rights, the preamble of the United Nations Charter explicitly affirms a faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small. Central to the human rights of all individuals, it is imperative that the UN system, its actors, and policies reflect and embrace gender equality as a fundamental human right. This commitment goes beyond language in critical cornerstone documents and into actionable deeds that embrace gender equality and the human rights of women and girls to ensure more equal representation of and by men, women, and people of all genders throughout the system itself and in the policies and practices that it upholds. This document describes concrete steps that could be taken to promote women s rights, including marginalized women such as stateless, indigenous or disabled women, and to ensure greater gender equality at the United Nations, both in its internal operations and in fulfilling its mission to promote human rights, peace and sustainable development globally. The UN has been a crucial site for negotiation of visionary and rights-based global normative agreements that have fueled groundbreaking changes in countries worldwide, including the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action, and Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security. One could argue that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the process that produced this remarkable agreement suggest that the UN system has made space for the voices of nations large and small, as mandated by the UN charter, and that a new chapter in the evolution of multilateral governance is possible. Women and girls, and other traditionally marginalized groups such as indigenous persons or the disabled, are better represented in the Global Goals and their targets than at any other time in the history of the UN. Yet the institution that has catalyzed and facilitated these breakthrough processes to secure visionary commitments to gender equality has consistently failed to implement these commitments in its internal policies and practices, as well as in the programs that it advocates for and supports. The occasion of selecting the 9 th Secretary-General has been, for the first time, increasingly and intentionally more transparent. A slate of candidates held public, televised debates to defend their platforms for leadership. Additionally, there has been unprecedented public demand for not only a female, but for a female, feminist leader. The outcry has caused many candidates to outline their own beliefs and propose strategies to recognize, protect and promote women s rights and voice as a key strategy in the larger goal of transforming all social relations that exploit, oppress or marginalize any set of people. Given this backdrop, the global community is at a potentially critical turning point in the history of the United Nations. In the selection of new leadership, and the crafting of that new leadership s agenda, there is great opportunity to conduct a feminist analysis of existing internal and external practices and to enshrine a greater degree of accountability to gender equality globally. To fulfill the UN s human rights mandate, there is an increasingly urgent need to embrace human rights completely, and to ensure a plurality of voices in its operations and functions. The time is right and the critical conditions are in place for the realization of gender equality. Despite this great opportunity, the race to the UN s top post looks increasingly likely to be plagued by politicsas-usual. When the UN was created, global peace and security were the main goals, and it is important to note that the original and lasting structure of the institution remains influenced by its military beginnings. Gender discrimination is one of the most pervasive forms of exploitation and subjugation in the world, and the UN is not immune to reinforcing deeply-entrenched social norms which prioritize men and traditionally male attributes in leadership. Many insiders are citing unwritten rules regarding hiring, even for this Toward a More Feminist United Nations 2 top position, based on quid-pro-quo politics, gender discrimination at all levels, and patriarchal processes that are making a female SG look unlikely, and a feminist UN seem all but impossible. Recent straw polls have shown that, despite an early strong showing of female candidates, women are the first to be voted out. This is in-line with the general hiring and promotion process across the UN, where few females are represented in high-level positions. The world has changed profoundly since the UN was created in 1945 and since some of the earlier commitments to women s rights were agreed. True multilateralism has to include actors that do not fit traditional notions of the state or Member State of the UN, and to recognize the rights of civil society and indigenous nations to shape the discourse about peace and international collaboration. True multilateralism would also recognize the imbalance in powers and would provide an opportunity for the millions of indigenous peoples, and those oppressed by their governments, as well as the stateless, to engage in organized discourse with their governments and with the UN system itself. There is a very real need for a shift in power away from Northern, and traditionally maledominated, Member States and voices toward a more feminist 1 United Nations. Since the Kofi Annan era of UN reform the three core mandates of the system 1) human security; 2) human development; and 3) human rights are recognized as interdependent and indivisible. All entities in the UN system are accountable for promoting the aims and goals of all three global agendas. Increasingly, there is a need for an intersectoral approach that goes beyond the current silos of development, peacekeeping, and rights, and breaks down the monopoly of particular agencies and Member States and of the Security Council, on actions and operations. With more stateless people now than after World War II, a meaningful improvement to the system would require not only moving beyond silos but moving beyond state-level representation and engagement a la we the peoples. Without intentional reform, the entire UN system risks failing in its mission and reinforcing entrenched inequalities that will destabilize social and economic development, perpetuate ecological imbalance and continue the economic impoverishment of millions, undermining the fulfillment of universal human rights. The UN also risks its own irrelevance and complicity in further exacerbating power asymmetries. The following recommendations, which are directed to various levels at which reform is urgently needed, would, if implemented, begin to correct this imbalance and to foster a more feminist United Nations. RECOMMENDATIONS: Level I: Secretary-General, UN Leadership and Staffing The UN remains a mainly Northern- and male dominated and directed institution. The gross inequality throughout its agencies and across duty stations and levels of leadership particularly at the top is a result of institutional recruitment, hiring, and promotional practices that ensure people of all genders, races, geographies, etc., are not represented equally, and reinforces patriarchal structures. Despite evidence of the value of, as well as ambitious goals for, equitable representation of women at all levels of the UN, the numbers remain disheartening. At the end of 2013, just under 42 percent of professional and higher categories in the UN system were women which means it took a decade for an increase in the overall representation of women by a mere five percentage points. Digging deeper into those figures shows that female representation in field-based appointments, which are often critical stepping stones to long-term promotion, begin as disproportionately male, thus making any promotional opportunities disproportionately available and distributed to males. 1 A note on definitions: By feminist we do not just mean women, or a pro-women agenda, but a pro-women agenda that seeks to transform power relations in a way that lifts up all people. 3 Toward a More Feminist United Nations Gender parity 2 in UN staff in and of itself is an issue, but unwritten and ubiquitous hiring practices undermine truly equitable representation and the implementation of the UN s own foundational documents. This is not just about jobs for women it is about making the UN fit for purpose and both representative of accountable to we, the peoples. Explicit hierarchies and observance of a chain of command also decreases transparency and impedes whistle-blowing as people are actively discouraged from going outside of the chain of command and reporting problems to the ombudsmen. The values reflected in the types of behaviors that are rewarded are based on assumptions about productive and reproductive roles and the gendered division of labor. A series of traditions and unwritten rules dictate ownership of specific UN entities or roles by certain Member States. In the search for the new Secretary- General, much has been made of the unwritten rule that specific regions trade off holding the SG position with the understanding that whomever is in that position would naturally favor or better represent their home region, thus necessitating such a rotation. As this rule is not codified but is seriously followed, one can see the rationale behind many feminists calling for a female SG hoping that such a person would favor feminist ideas. In other areas, there is a sense that when a Member State contributes monetarily to a specific UN entity, they are then entitled to make staffing appointments. These practices benefit wealthier Member States, those who already typically hold positions of power within the UN, and lead to disproportionate representation throughout the system. In sum, the current UN system is grossly unequal. People of all genders, races, ages, classes, etc. are not recruited effectively, represented equally, and given equal opportunities for advancement 3. Principles of transparency and accountability are not being upheld. To address this, we recommend the following actions by the actors outlined below: To the current UN leadership, SG candidates and transition team: Compile existing UN policies on human rights, equality, fairness, and nondiscrimination and deliver them to the next Secretary-General, emphasizing that these are the frameworks the UN has established and that Member States have committed to, and that, consequently, need to be upheld in UN policies and practices. Compile a roster of senior female and feminist professionals from which appointments can be made to achieve parity at the senior levels of UN leadership. Conduct a review of the ICSC gender parity strategy 4 to examine what actions may be taken to achieve parity in the professional ranks of the United Nations. More action may need to be taken at the regional group level, given that the international civil service does allow consideration of regional representation. Each of the current SG candidates should publicly commit to achieving gender parity and advancing feminist principles as part of their platforms, outlining an action plan by which they intend to do so. To the new Secretary-General: The incoming Secretary-General must ensure that the global laws, policies and standards on gender equality adopted by UN member states are the basis on which the UN system also operates. The ethics, operations and practice of the UN should mirror its own stated commitments, ideals and goals. Upon assumption of office, the incoming Secretary- General must publicly denounce the patriarchal and unwritten rules that perpetuate a culture within the UN system of colonialism, racism, sexism, and ageism. He must articulate internal processes to uncover, document, and transform this culture, setting-out time-bound goals that will be implemented in every UN agency and body, and reported on publicly. At the SG transition, use the opportunity of the resignation of all ASGs/USGs to achieve equal representation, beginning with gender parity at those levels. 2 While the primary focus of this paper concerns gender parity, as feminists we seek to transform all isms and power structures operating within the UN sex and gender (including gender identity and sexual orientation), race, age, class, geography, etc. Toward a More Feminist United Nations 4 Establish gender parity in the Cabinet: the Senior Management Team, members of the Policy Committee, and in the members of the Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB). Ensure that senior appointments are not only gender equal, but also feminist by documenting the feminist credentials in the Executive Office of the SG (in particular the Deputy Secretary-General, the Chief of Staff, the Spokesperson, the chief Speechwriter, the Political Advisor and the members of the Senior Appointments Unit). Set out an ambitious 100-day agenda, leading to a full-fledged women s rights agenda for the SG, based on UN policies of human rights, equality, fairness and nondiscrimination, which must be reported on to the public on an annual basis. Publicly support agencies that create internal processes to uncover, articulate, and transform the culture that perpetuates colonialism, racism, sexism, and ageism. Direct the SG s Senior Management Team to annually commission a rapid review of women s rights by women s rights advocates from inside and outside of the system. The Secretary-General must receive and respond to a verbal presentation of the annual results of that review. Actively work to break down internal silos by mandating and incentivizing increased collaboration across agencies, both by supervisors and also in HR processes (360 reviews, etc). Institute universal Gender SWAPs (UN Systemwide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women) 5 for all UN agencies and bodies, including the 5 th Committee, and make that data publicly available on a central platform. Request sex-disaggregated information on critical decisions such as hiring for senior positions, as well as gender budgeting throughout the UN system. Request that all Human Rights Rapporteurs address and report on issues of women s rights within their missions. This includes not only utilizing sexdisaggregated data, but also ensuring a core focus on women s human rights issues within their focus areas. Set out intentions and a timeline for a Fifth World Conference on Women. The new SG should mandate consistent definitions on topics such as unpaid care, child marriage, sex work, gender-based violence, and trafficking and these definitions should be consistently implemented in programming and across the agencies. Most of these issues are addressed in programming guidelines related to implementation of human rights treaties but there should be a technical review of definitions across agencies conducted by UN Women. To UN agencies: Pledge to be accountable to the aspirations for genuine equality manifested in conventions such as CEDAW, CERD, CESCR and ICPPR. State parties are legally bound by these treaties and UN agencies are mandated to support them in taking actions to protect and fulfill the specific obligations outlined within them. The executive boards of the UN funds, programs and agencies must take concrete steps to encourage such efforts and promote accountability for member states. Hold system-wide, televised meetings and open them to civil society participation, inperson as well as via skype or other technological mechanisms. Civil society can submit ideas and questions in advance of meetings and tune in to board meetings on UN TV. Funds, Programs and Agencies should also have one board meeting per year that allows in-person and full civil society participation. Meetings between governments and UN country teams should be made publicly available, including 1 In early 2012, the United Nations agreed on the landmark UN System-wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, or UN-SWAP, to implement the gender equality policy of its highest executive body, the UN Chief Executives Board, chaired by the Secretary-General. Spearheaded by UN Women, the UN-SWAP for the first time assigns common performance standards for the gender-related work of all UN entities, ensuring greater coherence and accountability. See more at: 5 Toward a More Feminist United Nations the workshops and conferences where country programmes are negotiated. Currently the country programs and cooperation agreements are public record and the process leading up to these programs and agreements should be as well. For instance, leadership at UNDP has publicly stated that it is the most transparent UN agency, and that developing countries have a right to know how development funding is being used in their countries (although there is still much work to be done). As the largest development agency of the UN, UNDP does have the potential to model and support systemwide transparency by: Agreeing to open key meetings to civil society through in-person participation, television and/ or livestream, and to allow opportunity for civil society comment/participation. Publishing who is funding which senior staff positions (P5 and above) and how much of its budget is being spent on gender programming, and by encouraging other UN agencies should follow suit. Publicly reporting on how much UNDP money actually helps women, and stating by what criteria. Require UN budgets and hiring reports to contain sex disaggregated data. Institute a system-wide Freedom of Information Policy that would allow civil society to request access to that sex disaggregated hiring data as well as SWAP reports and archived recordings of open meetings. Encourage equitable hiring practices by publishing how many candidates wer
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