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Ending global poverty begins with women’s rights

Weakened mandate for U.N. women’s office ‘deplorable

Weakened mandate for U.N. women’s office ‘deplorable

May 10, 2010

‘While we welcome the principle to agree on this much-needed women’s agency, the attitude of some member states to weaken its mandate at the last minute is deplorable, said Daniela Rosche.

‘This decision to have a new women’s rights entity in place will mean absolutely nothing if member states fail to give it a clear mission, she said.

An U.N. assembly resolution has called for the amalgamation of four existing U.N. offices dealing with women’s affairs into a single body to be headed by an under-secretary-general — a higher rank than exists at present on the issue.

‘In the resolution, any reference to the agency’s future mandate has been deleted, Rosche noted. ‘But it’s not too late to turn things around. The leadership of Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is urgently needed to ensure that the momentum is not lost and that women’s rights get the political backing they deserve. The swift appointment of an Under-Secretary General will help ensure an effective conclusion of this process by next year.

The resolution set a year-long deadline for Secretary-General Ban to put together a proposal that would specify the new entity’s mission statement, organizational arrangements, funding and executive board.

The existing offices for women, such as the U.N. Development Fund for Women, have less clout and smaller budgets than the new full-fledged agency is expected to have.

‘The good news is that the new agency has the potential to streamline decision-making and programming related to women’s rights under one overarching agency. This body doesn’t add another layer to the already heavy U.N. bureaucracy. The potential to have an impact on women’s lives through education, organizing and empowerment – is very real and exciting, Rosche said.

The unanimous vote on the women’s agency followed three years of negotiations.

For further inquiry, please contact:

Karen Palmer, Oxfam Canada Media Officer, 613-240-3047
Louis Belanger, Oxfam International Media Officer + 1 917 224 0834

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