U.N. System Lacks ‘Serious Focus on Gender’ Issues, Opinion Piece Says
"The most lamentable and heart-breaking dimension of multilateralism" is the "absence of any serious focus on gender throughout" the United Nations system, Stephen Lewis, founder of AIDS-Free World, writes in a London Independent opinion piece. He adds, "I can cite chapter and verse, but let me start by telling you that whether it is poverty alleviation, or HIV and AIDS, or sexual violence and conflict, the whole panoply of discrimination visited on women around the world, particularly in developing countries, the U.N.'s agencies and the Secretariat have been profoundly delinquent in their response."
According to Lewis, the "struggle for gender equality has become the most important struggle on the planet; the continuing marginalization of 52% of the world's population is simply unacceptable." He adds, "So we're now engaged in an effort to create a new international agency for women, a fascinating undertaking that I hope will engage" governments. "Nothing approximates the possibility of finally having a vehicle that would give voice and resources and support to the struggles of women around the world," Lewis writes, adding, "Everyone knows what's happening in these areas about women's vulnerability but there is never a consistent voice to bring it to the attention of the world community, to continue to hammer it home, to demand action from government." He concludes, "So the emergence and creation of a women's agency I think would be a godsend internationally and would overcome the record of the United Nations on gender" (Lewis, Independent, 5/22).