Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 11 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds   

International Women's Day and the Launch of UN Women

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   No comments
Message Elayne Clift
Become a Fan
  (14 fans)

With March 8th marking the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day coinciding with the launch of a new superagency at the United Nations devoted to women, surely some cautious celebrating is in order.


            It's a time of caution because as we all know "talk is cheap" and nowhere is it cheaper than at the United Nations.   But with an expanded budget, the unification of several less potent agencies such as UNIFEM and INSTRAW, and the formidable Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile, at the helm of the new agency, there is reason to hope that concrete action benefitting the world's women will occur.


            Batchelet believes deeply in and works hard for gender equality and women's economic, political and social empowerment.   She understands that gender inequalities are still deeply embedded in societies everywhere.   That's why she has claimed that "Gender equality must become a lived reality," on the website of UN Women, short for the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.  


In a statement launching UN Women's "Vision and 100-Day Action Plan," Bachelet said that the agency's vision "is one where men and women have equal opportunities and capacities, where women are empowered and where the principles of gender equality are firmly embedded in all efforts to advance development, peace and security."

            Who could possibly be against that?   Well, lots of folks, it turns out.   Just look at what the new Congress in this country is trying to do.   Or check out countries where various fundamentalisms (and I don't just mean Islamic) are working overtime to ensure that women, unlike children, are neither seen nor heard.


            That's why UN Women will focus on five key principle-based actions: Providing support to national partners who want to implement international agreements and standards; supporting intergovernmental attempts to frame gender equality policies; advocating for the rights of the world's most excluded women and girls; promoting a coherent UN system to work on gender equality; and acting as a global knowledge broker to align relevant practices.


            That's a tall order, and a good example of how the UN often overextends itself rhetorically.   Still, by keeping in mind several priorities, the new agency should be able to accomplish more than its collective predecessors have.   The priorities it stresses are expanding women's voice, leadership and participation; ending violence against women; implementing women's peace and security agenda; enhancing women's economic empowerment, and making gender equality central to national, local, and sectoral planning, budgeting, and statistics gathering.


             To that end, Batchelet has sent researchers to various countries to identify gaps in capacity and performance that could impede the mission of UN Women.    A system-wide coordination strategy within the UN is being developed, and partnerships are being built with academic networks around the globe with a view to girls' leadership.   Working with other UN agencies, Batchelet has promised to "encourage" countries to put in place a set of standard responses to violence against women and to provide "concrete benchmarks" for monitoring success.   In addition, UN Women is taking the lead role in getting the UN to be more forceful in having women at the seat of decision-making in conflict and post-conflict countries, and to ensure that its own agencies seriously advance women's economic empowerment in their respective sectors (e.g., reproductive health, water and sanitation, labor).  


            One hundred years ago, when International Women's Day (IWD) was conceived by working women fighting for better labor practices and for suffrage, women in America could not vote. As its founders convened in Copenhagen in 1910 and a year later held their first rallies throughout Europe, they could not have imagined either the progress that's been made in gaining "equal rights, equal opportunities, and progress for all" or the challenges that confront a globalized and increasingly fragile world in 2011.  

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

Elayne Clift Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Elayne Clift is a writer,lecturer, workshop leader and activist. She is senior correspondent for Women's Feature Service, columnist for the Keene (NH) Sentinel and Brattleboro (VT) Commons and a contributor to various publications internationally. (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

What Happens When "Jane" Comes Marching Home Again?

Is America Really as Safe a Place to Live as You Thought?

Orifice Politics; What the War on Women is Really About

Why Are We Sexualizing Young Girls?

Beauty and the Beast: The Ugly Attacks on Activist Women

DSM-5 Could Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend