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United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

Turning the tide: The next wave of action for gender equality and women's empowerment

Noeleen Heyzer
Executive Director, UNIFEM

United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

9 October 2006

SARPN acknowledges UNIFEM as a source of this document:
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Mr. Chairperson, Distinguished Delegates, Colleagues, and Friends,

I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Chairperson, and other members of the bureau on your election to this committee.

I thank you for this opportunity to present the Secretary-General's report on the activities of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and to update you on the results we have achieved and the challenges we face in advancing gender equality and women's empowerment.

As the report before you (A/61/292) illustrates, the vision of a world in which all people can live free of want and free of fear, lies at the heart of UNIFEM's work. The report highlights practical actions and achievements in each of the areas in which UNIFEM works — reducing feminized poverty and exclusion; promoting gender equality in democratic governance and post-conflict reconstruction; ending violence against women; and halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS — bringing together governments and civil society with UN and private sector partners to form effective partnerships and become agents for change.

In all of this work, UNIFEM takes a holistic approach — linking normative and legal frameworks with institutional reform to bring concrete change to women on the ground. This approach brings together efforts to: (1) formulate and implement laws and policies to promote gender equality and women's human rights; (2) build institutional capacity to allocate resources and establish accountability mechanisms to ensure implementation; (3) strengthen gender equality advocates to monitor and track progress and mobilize constituencies to bring about change; and (4) end harmful practices and attitudes that perpetuate gender inequality around the world.

In working to reduce feminized poverty and strengthen women's economic security, the Fund concentrated on linking economic decision-making more closely to economic and social development, incorporating gender into poverty reduction strategies in 18 countries, mainly through gender-responsive budget initiatives. These programmes, which apply gender analysis to government budgets to highlight the impact of tax policy and revenue allocations on women and men, show how UNIFEM has brought the power of partnerships, resources and ideas to make a difference — building technical capacity and mobilizing knowledge networks to ensure allocation of adequate financial resources for gender equality and women's empowerment. In 2001, we co-organized a High Level Conference which brought together governments, civil society and gender budget experts to launch a campaign for gender responsive budget initiatives to be undertaken in 45 countries by 2015. Today, we can track results through programmes we have supported in 30 countries.

The power of mobilizing new partnerships for change can also be seen in our work with the private sector to increase women's access to new employment and livelihood opportunities in the global economy. In 2005 we expanded a partnership with Cisco Systems in Arab States to enhance women's knowledge of and access to ICTs — including the creation of e-villages in rural areas — and established a new partnership with Macy's Department Stores to open up new global markets for women weavers in post-conflict Rwanda. In Asia Pacific, our support to governments and women's groups working to improve conditions for women migrant workers resulted in the adoption of a Code of Ethical Conduct for service recruitment agencies in South and Southeast Asia that protects the rights of women who migrate for work in the Arab region.

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