New UN Agency for gender equality opens its doors

Headed up by former Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet, and still hundreds of millions of dollars short of its funding goals, UN Women opened its doors this month. Via Women’s eNews:

The new United Nations gender agency, known as U.N. Women, quietly opened on Jan. 3 without any publicity or announcements.

The superagency’s midtown Manhattan headquarters remain unoccupied, said U.N. Women spokesperson Gretchen Luchsinger. Employees from the four U.N. gender agencies and offices that this new entity is uniting continue to work out of their own, scattered offices around the U.N. Secretariat building.

“Maybe because of the U.N. bureaucracy we have experienced a slow process to seeing U.N. Women become operational,” said Margot Baruch, spokesperson for the Gender Equality Architecture Reform, a civil society coalition with offices in New Brunswick, N.J., that campaigned for U.N. Women’s creation.

U.N. Women activity is likely to remain low-key until the public ceremonial launch on Feb. 24–pushed back from Jan. 20–at the U.N. Secretariat, according to Baruch.

I am a little bummed that this agency is out to a rocky start. However, this office still marks a huge victory for gender equality advocates who have pushed for this office to ensure that women have a more prominent voice during UN deliberations. For more info on what kind of work UN Women will build upon check out the focus areas on the website. These include violence against women; peace and security; leadership and participation; economic empowerment; national planning and budgeting; human rights; and the millennium development goals.

On the topic of infrastructure to advance women’s rights, this news clip reminded me of a lot of the talk that happened in 2009 regarding the Presidential Commission on Women. Among many things, this Commission was supposed to review the status of women nationwide and governmental programs that aid women. The bill is currently stalled in the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Post Office, and the District of Columbia. This commission would certainly work in tandem with the White House Council on Women and Girls and UN Women to ensure that the US is proactive about gender inequality in the states. So, along with advocating for funding for UN Women, I would encourage you to add the Presidential Commission on Women to the list of asks you send your congressperson this month.

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