UNICEF Executive Board, Joint Statement on Gender Issues
I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of Denmark, Estonia, El Salvador, Finland, Iceland, Kenya, Norway and Sweden. First, let me take this opportunity to welcome and recognise UNICEF’s important efforts in mainstreaming gender equality through its entire humanitarian and development work. Improved gender equality is an efficient way to achieve better conditions not only for adults, but also for boys and girls. However, advancing gender equality requires constant and innovative work as well as review of the actions taken.
As laid out in the report before us there has been some notable progress and achievements in UNICEF work on gender equality. UNICEF has been working towards strengthening its systems and data collection to improve its capacity and accountability on gender equality. The 19 benchmarks developed for the Strategic Priority Action Plan to monitor and track progress are good examples of this work. They do contribute to an atmosphere of accountability on gender equality that is crucial for delivering results.
We are encouraged to see progress on UNICEF´s cooperation with UN Women on the United Nations Systemwide Action Plan (SWAP) to implement the Chief Executives Board (CEB) Policy on gender equality and the empowerment of women. Similarly, UNICEF´s work with the UNDG Task Team on Gender to improve country-level performance on gender-equality results is another example of important joint effort where UNICEF´s contribution is crucial.
There are also progressive examples in UNICEF programmes, such as the UNICEF-UNFPA Joint Programme on FGM/C, that contribute to gender equality at the country level. We welcome cases where new legislation has been enacted, specifically banning the practice of FGM/C, as a result of the programme and are very encouraged by such tangible results. Other commendable efforts include those towards guaranteeing the gender dimension in the production, analysis and dissemination of key social and economic indicators related to children, in particular those related to education and violence.
There are, however, gaps that remain and must be addressed.
We fully support of UNICEF´s specific senior management staffing target of “50 percent of female staff at P5 levels and above globally’ by 2013 and continue to watch this issue closely. We are encouraged by the change in the right direction but encourage UNICEF to continue its efforts to reach its goal with increased focus at the Director level and a view to maintaining a comprehensive geographic representation of female staff.
We continue to be concerned with the lack of staff accountability on gender equality which was demonstrated by the fact that only 6% of respondents to the self-assessment had discussed gender equality at length with their supervisors in 2010 and 2011. There is clearly a need for special attention be paid to gender equality and gender mainstreaming in performance appraisals and we would like to reiterate our request that this be done. Without it there is a risk that staff will not give gender equality the pivotal importance it deserves or simply overlook it.
We stress the importance of addressing gender equality in all MTSP areas, particularly in relation to education in emergencies, health and nutrition, as well as water and sanitation. We are also concerned about the uneven regional progress seen by the advancement towards gender reviews of country programmes. Regional variations can also be seen in the gender equality marker (GEM).
We therefore encourage UNICEF to continue its work towards implementation of Executive Board decision 2011/13 and continue its efforts to increase the focus on results, reporting on results and strengthen mechanisms of accountability.
Gender equality is critical for achieving the results we are aiming at. It should therefore be placed at the center of our work.
I wish to reiterate our position that gender mainstreaming is crucial for the advancement of gender equality at all levels. This requires a change of mindset, increased accountability at all levels and increased focus in areas where UNICEF is lagging behind.
Rest assured Mr/Madame President that Denmark, Estonia, El Salvador, Finland, Iceland, Kenya, Norway and Sweden will continue to support UNICEF in this important work and are looking forward to engage with UNICEF on the new Strategic Priority Action Plan on Gender Equality for 2013 to 2015.
Thank you, Mr President