High-Level Panel Endorses Proposal To Create U.N. Agency for Women
A high-level panel on U.N. reform on Thursday endorsed a proposal by U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis to create a new U.N. agency focusing specifically on women, the Toronto Star reports (Ward, Toronto Star, 11/10). Lewis earlier this year said that such an agency is needed in part because HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects women and girls in Africa. He added that a well-funded and influential agency targeting women would reduce the HIV prevalence within the group (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/20). The endorsement is part of a report from the 15-member reform panel, which was appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan with the aim of finding ways to streamline and improve the coordination and effectiveness of the United Nation's development, environment and humanitarian efforts (Toronto Star, 11/10). According to London's Guardian, the reform panel found that "[g]ender is central to the delivery of poverty reduction, and the U.N.'s agencies have been weak on this issue" (Seager, Guardian, 11/10). The three U.N. entities that currently handle women's issues therefore should be "consolidated into one enhanced and independent gender entity," the report said, adding that the agency also would be "fully and ambitiously funded" (Toronto Star, 11/10). The panel also proposed that a top-level executive be appointed to oversee the agency's regional- and country-level work (Leopold, Reuters Canada, 11/9). In addition, advocates of the agency aim to raise at least $1 billion for the agency, the Toronto Star reports. "This is the most dramatic step forward in decades, for women and for the U.N.," Lewis said, adding that it "holds the prospect of transforming the lives of women, removing the worst poverty and oppression, saving lives in the midst of the AIDS pandemic and other massive health problems" (Toronto Star, 11/10). Executive Director of the U.N. Development Fund for Women Noeleen Heyzer said she welcomed the proposal, as well as the call for a top-level executive (Reuters Canada, 11/10). Women's groups on Thursday said Canada and other countries supporting the proposal should take the lead in raising money and creating the agency. The panel included Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, British Finance Minister Gordon Brown, Canadian International Development Agency President Robert Greenhill and Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Toronto Star, 11/10). The panel plans to send its recommendation to the U.N. General Assembly for consideration (Office of the U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa release, 11/9). Annan is expected to call on the 192-member General Assembly to adopt the proposal before his term ends on Dec. 31 (Toronto Star, 11/10).
The reform panel report is available online.