System-wide Equality Acceleration Plan Ensures Gender Responsiveness, Inclusion ‘Are Ingrained in All Our Endeavours’, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Delegates

Following is UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s briefing to Member States on the system-wide gender equality acceleration plan, in New York today:

Thank you for joining us for this very important briefing on the new United Nations system-wide gender equality acceleration plan.

I am pleased to see the turnout of our multilateral community gathered for this briefing.  It is this united front that is crucial for ensuring the protection of the rights of women and girls globally, and for realizing the aspiration of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 outlined in the 2030 Agenda.

The comprehensive initiated by the Secretary-General in 2022 scrutinized both the successes and shortcomings within the UN system. Subsequently, in 2023, a task team and advisory board comprising 12 key UN entities deliberated over the review’s recommendations.

Their efforts culminated in the development of five sets of accelerators aimed to propel gender equality forward.  These accelerators are encapsulated within the newly launched United Nations system-wide gender equality acceleration plan, launched by the Secretary-General on International Women’s Day, in March this year.

The launch of this plan marks a significant stride in advancing the Secretary-General’s reform agenda, as outlined in Our Common Agenda and serves as a substantive contribution to the Summit of the Future.

Positioned at the heart of the vision for a UN 2.0, the acceleration plan epitomizes our commitment to recalibrate, reskill and realign our expertise, ensuring that gender responsiveness, equity and inclusion are ingrained in all our endeavours.

The vision for a UN 2.0, centred on achieving gender equality and consistently delivering for women and girls, stands as a strategic imperative, indivisible from our mandates.

It is a collective responsibility shared by every entity within the UN system.  We refer to this approach as “all-in”, where the UN system works to advance the rights of women and girls everywhere, at every level.

I thank every Member State for joining with the UN and supporting our internal transformation.  The aim is to address deep structural issues to enable an organizational culture capable of fulfilling global commitments and upholding human rights principles, enshrined in the UN Charter, and human rights conventions including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Beijing Declaration.

I am committed to showcasing the results of our internal transformation during the thirtieth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and at the Commission on the Status of Women next year.

I extend my gratitude to the Government of Germany for their steadfast support, as well as to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the numerous members of the UN family represented on the task team and advisory board that generated an acceleration plan that we can all stand behind.

It is important to acknowledge that reaching consensus was not without its challenges, as is often the case with initiatives aiming for profound structural transformation to embed the promotion of gender equality within our core values.

We will implement the acceleration plan in two phases.  The first phase entails establishing common ground within the system, with a focus on building a robust foundation and consolidating efforts.  This includes, first, the development of a clarion call, which embodies a norms-based policy stance to drive progress in gender equality.

Second, gender-transformative leadership, that personally and actively advances gender equality in the workplace and in all external activities.

Third, accountability for gender equality results.

Fourth, resourcing, including system-wide targets.  Fifth, action to build partnership and engage with all stakeholders for a system-wide pivot on gender equality.

Following a review of implementation after 12 months, the second phase will address more complex and challenging issues, including the effective distribution within the triple mandate of UN-Women across the pillars of its coordination; normative and operational/programmatic functions; division of labour among entities on thematic issues; and conditioning peace processes to ensure women’s substantive engagement in all tracks.

As Member States, your role will be instrumental in facilitating the United Nations delivery of this plan.  It will involve focusing advocacy and action on scaling up long-term investments in gender equality programming and ensuring a robust and well-resourced UN-Women that can fulfil its triple mandate.

We hope to also enhance gender expertise across all UN entities and aim to achieve a 15 per cent target of overall expenditures on gender equality programming.  We also aim to meet a 40 per cent target for gender equality programming in all new pooled funds, to eliminate any gender-blind funding, and mobilize $300 million for women’s organizations operating in conflict and crisis settings.

The ambition of the acceleration plan is indeed significant. We aim to revolutionize our leadership on gender equality, commencing from the highest echelons.

This year, we will launch an inaugural gender steering group, led by the Secretary-General, who serves as our feminist-in-chief.

Gender steering groups will also be established in each entity. I am pleased to highlight there are already 16 existing entity-specific gender steering committees, and six entities have similar, although to a lesser extent.  These mechanisms are now tasked with aligning their gender strategies and plans with the objectives of the acceleration plan.  The UN leadership in every country will convene biennial country gender equality reviews of UN activities, in collaboration with national gender machineries, regional mechanisms and other stakeholders, especially civil society.

Engaging diverse constituencies will allow the UN to truly understand the lived realities of women and girls.  Our goal is to amplify the voices of women and girls in all their diversity, rural and Indigenous women, girls and women in poverty, young and older women, women with disabilities, refugee women and other marginalized grassroots women.

Support and protection to women’s human rights defenders, including addressing reprisals are integral components of our strategy. We will collaborate with human rights mechanisms at the global and national levels to achieve this.

Internally, we are committed to integrating gender equality as a core competency for all our personnel.  This entails adapting internal practices, procedures and human resources policies to ensure that the advancement of gender equality is not solely perceived as “women’s work”, the responsibility of the gender unit or the sole domain of UN-Women — the whole UN system will be therefore strengthened. Instead, it is a collective responsibility shared by all entities and staff across the UN system.

We are committed to holding ourselves accountable, recognizing that oversight and accountability have been significant weaknesses in the UN system’s efforts to improve outcomes for women and girls.  To address this, existing reporting mechanisms such as the system-wide accountability framework will be aligned with the acceleration plan. Additionally, the Secretary-General will request the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) and the UN Evaluation Group to review the gender-responsiveness of their evaluations and indicators.

So there is indeed much to do.

Now is the time to dramatically increase the scale of our collective actions.

We rely on Member States to fulfil their role in establishing the enabling environment necessary for longer-term investment in gender equality for sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda.

Today marks a pivotal moment, signalling the beginning of our journey.  Next year we will be meeting for the thirtieth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action.  For us, Beijing+30 starts today.  Through our leadership at all levels, we will seek the perspectives of women and girls and will actively remove obstacles inhibiting their voices and actions.

Over the coming years, we will implement the system-wide gender equality acceleration plan, to help drive the decade of action towards success.

I eagerly anticipate today’s discussion with Member States.

We aim to provide insights into our journey and welcome feedback and constructive criticism, essential for our continuous learning and adaptation.

I encourage all of you to be bold and specific in offering recommendations to unlock the full potential of women and girls.

Committing to investing in hope, investing in gender equality, and investing in an inclusive and fair future for all, means we will be sure to ensure no one is left behind.

The UN will advance with both humility and courage, and we invite you to champion gender equality alongside us.

Let me say it was a difficult process to get the system to collaborate better, deeper, to reach the grassroots and come back up again.  The acceleration plan will be taken in two steps.  First to address the backsliding, to get us all back to the same page, to get the job done.  The second phase will be to take the tough actions required to achieve SDG 5 by 2030.

For information media. Not an official record.