UN and the rights of women and girls
"Until women and girls can live free of fear, violence and insecurity, the world cannot pride itself on being fair and equal"
The UN and Gender Equality
The Charter of the United Nations, signed in 1945, was the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men. Since then, the UN has helped create a historic legacy of internationally-agreed strategies, standards, programmes and goals to advance the status of women worldwide.
Over the years, the UN and its technical agencies have promoted the participation of women as equal partners with men in achieving sustainable development, peace, security, and full respect for human rights. The empowerment of women continues to be a central feature of the UN's efforts to address social, economic and political challenges across the globe.
Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and therefore also half of its potential. But, today gender inequality persists everywhere and stagnates social progress. As of 2014, 143 countries have guaranteed equality between men and women in their Constitutions but 52 have yet to take this step.
What happens if gender equality is not ensured?
Inequalities faced by girls can begin right at birth and follow them all their lives. In some countries, girls are deprived of access to health care or proper nutrition, leading to a higher mortality rate.
How does gender inequality affect women?
Disadvantages in education translate into lack of access to skills and limited opportunities in the labour market. Women’s and girls’ empowerment is essential to expand economic growth and promote social development. The full participation of women in labor forces would add percentage points to most national growth rates— double digits in many cases.
But, why should gender equality matter to me?
Regardless of where you live in, gender equality is a fundamental human right. Advancing gender equality is critical to all areas of a healthy society, from reducing poverty to promoting the health, education, protection and the well-being of girls and boys.
What can we do to fix these issues?
If you are a girl, you can stay in school, help empower your female classmates to do the same and fight for your right to access sexual and reproductive health services.
If you are a woman, you can address unconscious biases and implicit associations that can form an unintended and often an invisible barrier to equal opportunity.
If you are a man or a boy, you can work alongside women and girls to achieve gender equality and embrace healthy, respectful relationships.
You can fund education campaigns to curb cultural practices like female genital mutilation and change harmful laws that limit the rights of women and girls and prevent them from achieving their full potential.
To find out more about Goal #5 and other Sustainable Development Goals, visit: http://www.un.org/ sustainabledevelopment
In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. In doing so, UN Member States took an historic step in accelerating the Organization’s goals on gender equality and the empowerment of women.
The creation of UN Women came about as part of the UN reform agenda, bringing together resources and mandates for greater impact. It merges and builds on the important work of four previously distinct parts of the UN system, which focused exclusively on gender equality and women’s empowerment:
- Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW)
- International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW)
- Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI)
- United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)
The main roles of UN Women are:
- To support inter-governmental bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms.
- To help Member States to implement these standards, standing ready to provide suitable technical and financial support to those countries that request it, and to forge effective partnerships with civil society.
- To lead and coordinate the UN system’s work on gender equality as well as promote accountability, including through regular monitoring of system-wide progress.