Joint Nordic Statement delivered by Ambassador Anna Karin Eneström on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden at the Executive Board of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Annual Session 2021. Agenda Item 7: GENDER EQUALITY AT UNDP, Annual report on the implementation of the UNDP gender equality strategy, 2018-2021.
I take the floor on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and my own country Sweden.
It has been said many times over the course of the past year, but it is nonetheless worth repeating: the COVID pandemic has exposed and accelerated vulnerabilities and inequalities in all our societies. Despite the knowledge we have, it is disheartening to note that the global policy response and recovery efforts has largely been blind to gender perspectives. In times of crisis, when resources are strained and institutional capacity limited, the needs and rights of women and girls in all their diversity are often ignored and women and girls face disproportionate impacts, only further amplified in contexts of fragility and conflict. Hard-fought gains for women’s’ rights are also under threat.
We are pleased to note that in this context, UNDP commitment to and performance on gender equality and women’s empowerment has remained strong. We welcome an informative annual report, with results from country level. We would encourage an analysis on what works and why – and what does not work and why – this could also inform an improved strategic direction of the new Gender Equality Strategy.
The current UNDP Gender Equality Strategy took effect in the context of the then recent adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. As we are today less than a decade away from 2030, few issues are as pressing to realize as integrating gender equality as a cross cutting development accelerator. To this end, UNDP regional hubs and country offices are encouraged to prioritize investments in assisting governments to develop a whole of society approach, national plans and managing resource with the help of integrated policy advice encompassed by a clear gender perspective. Governments must deliver for all. We also expect country offices to report ambitiously on gender indicators in all strands of work. We encourage UNDP to equip the organization more adequately with staff specialized in gender who are able to implement systems that focus on ensuring gender-responsive and transformative results.
We anticipate that UNDP in its next Gender Equality Strategy and in its upcoming Strategic Plan increase efforts to identify and address the root causes to gender inequality, including by reflecting on and capturing the lessons learned from relevant evaluations of UNDP’s work. To this end we commend the work that has begun to identify the role of social norms and how they can lead to stagnation in progress towards gender equality, including by highlighting the difference in access to basic versus enhanced capabilities. We encourage UNDP to match these transformative findings with equally transformative actions. Actions need to go beyond inclusion and parity into changing structures and addressing power dynamics that in many cases are inherently unequal, including addressing the multiple and intersecting discrimination faced by girls and women with disabilities. We note that democratic governance continues to be the most transformative area of UNDP’s work, helping to build more gender-equal and resilient societies.
We encourage UNDP to continue fostering its partnerships within and beyond the UN Family. Close and genuine partnership with civil society organizations, including women’s rights organizations, is fundamental to better address the needs of populations in partner countries. These organizations are stakeholders with in-depth knowledge and experiences of the needs and aspirations of local communities. The UNDP and UN-Women COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker is an inspiring initiative, and we are pleased to note that the Tracker is included in the UNSDG funding framework. We hope the important lessons from the work with the Tracker will be shared broadly to help shape better and more sustainable recovery efforts as well as preparedness for future responses. We look forward to the learnings from UNDP’s engagement on gender-responsive social protection, as it is our Nordic experience that inclusive and well-functioning systems for social protection reduce risks and build resilience, and ultimately give people better opportunities to shape their future. We expect UNDP to develop and advance its partnership with UN Women, recognizing the organization’s coordination mandate and expertise in gender equality, and other UN organizations, to jointly ensure that the UN system delivers transformative change.
Sufficient resources will be key. We urge member states and UNDP to safeguard adequate financing to materialize these ambitions.
Building back better means building back gender equal. It rests upon all of us to ensure that this happens.
Finally, let me thank Raquel Lagunas and the gender team for the rich report presented to the Executive Board. We appreciate the hard work behind it, especially in these difficult days.