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ECOSOC Statement regarding Empowerment of Women
July 14, 2011

U.S. Statement on Agenda Items 4, 7(a) and 7(e)
delivered by Courtney Nemroff

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thank you, Mr. Vice-President, Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,

The United States recognizes the need to improve coordination on policies and programs within the UN system to empower women, and fully supports UN Women, Under-Secretary-General Bachelet and her team in stepping up to this challenge. The founding resolution of UN Women, General Assembly resolution 63/289, last year’s ECOSOC Ministerial Declaration, and the ECOSOC resolutions we are about to adopt later this morning give UN Women a firm mandate to work with other parts of the UN system to clearly define the respective roles and responsibilities of each Fund, Programme, Agency and Organization. The Executive Board of UN Women last month endorsed a Management Results Framework for its Strategic Plan. This Framework emphasizes UN system coordination, coherence, efficiency, partnerships and accountability to further women’s empowerment. We expect to see the fruits of improved cooperation and coordination both at headquarters level and in the field. As the 2010 Ministerial Declaration said, “investing in women and girls has a multiplier effect on productivity, efficiency and sustained economic growth.”

The mandates and objectives of the UN system cannot be fully met if half the world’s population is overlooked by any part of UN family in its planning and policies. Each part of the UN system must do what is needed within its own mandate to see that a gender perspective is incorporated in its work, and that women benefit fully and equitably from its projects. UN Women, playing its leadership and coordination role, will need to hold all parts of the system accountable for upholding their responsibilities towards meeting women’s needs, as well as men’s, in their programming.

We support UN Women’s efforts to enhance its country and regional level capacities. However, UN Women does not yet have all the required resources to meet the needs of women and girls throughout the world. For this reason, it must work particularly closely at this early stage with Country Teams and Resident Coordinators to build upon the strong field presence of other UN Funds, Programmes and Agencies to get the tasks done and to help member states maximize their capacities to empower women. We look to UN Women, and other parts of the UN system, as much as possible, to involve gender equality advocates in decision-making processes that affect women, develop knowledge and expertise on gender equality issues, provide technical assistance, and improve coordination on gender issues within the Resident Coordinator system. The objective of these efforts is to assist governments in developing the necessary laws and policies to ensure women’s empowerment and gender equality.

Despite the critical linkage between the situation of women and a nation’s development, prosperity, and security, issues of women’s empowerment received inconsistent and insufficient attention prior to the creation of UN Women. We have high expectations of UN Women Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director Michelle Bachelet to turn that situation around, and have already seen the energy and high profile she has brought to this issue. Her status as a member of the UN Secretary-General’s core leadership team and her presence on senior governing bodies – including the Chief Executive Board, Committee on Programmes, Committee on Management, and the UN Development Group – elevates women’s issues to the appropriate higher level and injects gender considerations into policies throughout UN entities.

The United States is active on cross-cutting issues contained in the 2010 Ministerial Declaration to strengthen implementation of internationally agreed goals and commitments regarding gender equality and empowerment of women. We continue to work both at home and abroad towards eliminating violence against women, including by welcoming a visit from Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women Rashida Manjoo in January 2011. The United States supports Special Rapporteur Manjoo, her mandate, and her activities in calling attention to some of the world’s worst human rights abuses.

FAO’s 2011 report on the “State of Food and Agriculture” notes that women lag significantly behind men in access to land, seeds, credit, and modern technologies. Women also remain underrepresented in political and administrative structures. This prevents their equal participation in agricultural training programs and producer organizations. Feed the Future, the U.S. global hunger and food security initiative, is focused on promoting practical measures that have been demonstrated to empower rural women. We strive to include women in all stages of consultations and planning. The United States is also working with partners to expand women’s participation in all levels of decision-making and to ensure women’s equal access to assets, technologies, and markets, including financial services such as savings and credit. Mobile innovations such as smart cards allow women to deposit money into their accounts and control their earnings.

Thank you and we look forward to hearing about other member states’ progress in implementing the goals of last year’s Ministerial Declaration.