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- How does it help tackle violence against women?
- Civil society engagement: civil society advisory groups
UN Women is based in New York City (USA), with regional and country offices throughout the world. It operates under the authority of the General Assembly, ECOSOC and the Commission on the Status of Women, and is led by an Executive Director. The Executive Director reports to the Executive Board, – consisting of 41 members with equal regional representation – ECOSOC and the General Assembly (through ECOSOC), which are the primary decision-making bodies overseeing UN Women’s work.
UN Women’s core responsibilities include:
- Supporting inter-governmental bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms
- Helping UN member states implement these standards, providing suitable technical and financial support to those countries that request it, and to forge effective partnerships with civil society
- Leading and coordinating the UN system’s work on gender equality as well as promote accountability, including through regular monitoring of system-wide progress.
Creating UN Women
In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 64/L.56 to create the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women – UN Women. The goal was to maximise the impact of the UN’s entities dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment, bringing together their work and areas of expertise. In particular, UN Women brought together four UN entities:
- Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW): DAW worked to ensure that women’s priorities and concerns were fully mainstreamed into all areas of international policy.
- International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW): INSTRAW was the key UN entity dedicated to research, training and knowledge management to empower women and achieve gender equality.
- Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI): OSAGI worked to promote and strengthen the effective implementation of the Millennium Declaration and the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action.
- United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM): UNIFEM provided financial and technical assistance to programmes and strategies aimed at promoting women’s human rights, their empowerment and achieving gender equality.
How does it help tackle violence against women?
UN Women works to assist member states and inter-governmental bodies, including the UN system as a whole, to implement the main human rights treaties and standards relating to women’s right to equality in international law, mainly:
- Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women
- The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action
- UN Security Council Resolutions on women, peace and security
- The Sustainable Development Goals– notably, Goal 5, “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” and also to ensure effective integration of gender equality across all the SDGs Ending violence against women is one of UN Women’s key goals.
UN Women concentrates its work to tackle gender-based violence by focusing on:
- Global norms and standards
- Passing and implementing effective laws and policies
- Ensuring services are available and accessible to all women
- Increasing knowledge and awareness
- Creating safe public spaces
- Prevention strategies
Other examples of UN Women’s work to eliminate violence against women include:
UN Women created the Global Knowledge Platform to End Violence against Women to raise awareness and coordinate the different actors working to end violence against women. To achieve these goals, three interrelated websites have been developed:
UN Women created its own Training Centre, offering courses, programmes and resources on issues related to their priorities – including on eLearning Campus and a knowledge-sharing platform, Training for Gender Equality Community of Practice‘. Designed to be accessible to everyone, including civil society actors, each resource is available in different languages.
Specific resources related to violence against women include:
- Security Sector Reform (SSR): Rights & Needs of Women in Prison. Free course dedicated to training educators of security and prison personnel, non-profits, and related organisations, in the best practices for adhering to women’s rights in prisons
- Looking within: Understanding Masculinity and Violence Against Women and Girls. This course aims to challenge harmful masculine norms and practices that contribute to violence against women and promote transformative gender equality. Free self-learning booklet.
- I Know Gender: Implementation of the Security Council Resolutions on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. Free course aimed at raising awareness of the UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security to build capacities for their implementation and to promote sustainable practices and policies at the regional and national levels.
Through the collection and publication of research and data, UN Women aims to support civil society and governments to develop laws, policies and strategies to effectively tackle violence against women and achieve gender equality. This also includes coordinating related data collection throughout other UN entities to ensure gender statistics are used in all areas of policymaking.
Some of UN Women’s work includes:
- Producing guidelines for measuring violence against women and girls
- Developing a minimum set of 52 gender indicators
- Producing position papers on the Sustainable Development Goals
- Progress of the World’s Women, UN Women’s investigation on progress make towards eliminating violence against women, poverty and inequality
Civil Society Engagement: Civil Society Advisory Groups
UN Women organises Civil Society Advisory Groups at the global, regional and national levels to act as consultative bodies on policy, programming, intergovernmental and operational activities.
The aim of setting up civil society advisory groups is to build on existing close relationships and increase strategic dialogue with civil society partners at global, regional and national levels and to formally recognize civil society as one of our most important constituencies – providing a dynamic source for innovative initiatives, ideas and policy perspectives to assist UN Women in achieving its strategic goals. Closely linked is the vital political role played by civil society in advancing shared objectives in promoting women’s rights, gender equality and the empowerment of women. Together these groups form a strategic and substantive network of eminently qualified persons with diverse experience and expertise, perspectives and knowledge in any or all of UN Women’s priority areas. They are provided with a web platform to facilitate communications among and between the groups and individuals.