Position Paper for Establishment of U.N. Agency for Women Submitted
A position paper for the establishment of a U.N. agency for women has been submitted to a U.N. panel for consideration, VOA News reports. Paula Donavan -- senior adviser on women and children's issues in the office of the U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa -- wrote the paper, titled "Gender Equality Now or Never" (De Capua, VOA News, 8/1). According to Stephen Lewis, U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, his experience working with people affected by HIV/AIDS has highlighted the need for a U.N. agency focused on women. Lewis has presented his idea to a high-level U.N. panel that is investigating how to unify the agency's various sectors. If the panel endorses Lewis' idea, the agency would be on the agenda when the U.N. General Assembly opens in September. Lewis also has lobbied European, Latin American and African leaders to support his idea. The agency would not replace other U.N groups that work on women's issues, including the World Health Organization and the U.N. Population Fund (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/10). Women are "always the poorest, the least well-resourced. They just always are second-class citizens, ... and what we're finding now is that the results of that sort of indifference or neglect are proving literally fatal to women through the AIDS pandemic and to all of human society," Donavan said. The United Nations Development Fund for Women, known as UNIFEM, currently supports programs for women, but some people say the agency receives little support and is under-funded, VOA News reports. "The point that UNIFEM doesn't get much attention and doesn't get much of a budget is indicative of the way women's issues are treated throughout the international community and the United Nations," Donavan said. There is a great deal of support for the creation of a women's agency, but some people are concerned about the impact it could have on the U.N. organization, according to Donavan. The timeframe for establishing the proposed agency is unclear, VOA News reports (VOA News, 8/1).
VOA News reporter Joe De Capua on Tuesday interviewed Donavan. The interview is available online in QuickTime.