Rebeca Grynspan: Gender in UNDP

Feb 2, 2012

Oral report by Ms. Rebeca Grynspan, UNDP Associate Administrator
Meeting of the Executive Board
New York, 2 February 2012, 3:00 PM


Distinguished Members of the Executive Board,

Since this is the first time I take the floor during this Board meeting, allow me to first congratulate the President and the new Vice-Presidents on their election.

It is a pleasure to be here today to report on our progress implementing UNDP’s Gender Equality Strategy for the years 2008 to 2013.  This is a critical area of work for UNDP, and one where we can point to concrete results in 2011.

I will start by discussing some of the corporate actions we took last year to ensure that UNDP delivers gender equality results.  I will then highlight some development results we have achieved with partners in each area of work.  I will conclude by reporting on gender parity within the organization itself. 

First, the right institutional mechanisms are essential for achieving gender equality results. I am pleased to inform you that we finalized the midterm review of the Gender Equality Strategy.  Its findings and recommendations have informed the midterm review of the Strategic Plan and they will be fully taken into account in the development of UNDP’s new Strategic Plan and change agenda.  A full discussion of the findings is being scheduled for the Operational Performance Group and Executive Group in the following weeks. 

One of the key findings of the review was that UNDP has strengthened internal reporting and accountability for gender equality.  We have done this by leveraging tools and mechanisms, such as the gender marker and the Gender Steering and Implementation Committee, to hold all staff and managers responsible for achieving results.  

In 2011, the Gender Steering and Implementation Committee, which I chaired, reviewed the progress of each bureau and thematic group in achieving gender equality results.

We used the UNDP Gender Marker to measure the extent to which each unit is addressing and investing in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.  Overall, the results of the Gender Marker indicate that in 2011, 32% of expenditures rated made a significant contribution to gender equality or had gender equality as a principal objective. We analyzed these results with all Bureaux to take the necessary measures to do much better in the regions and areas that rank lower.    
To improve these results, we have also made the Gender Marker a key component of UNDP’s system-wide planning, reporting and monitoring tools. This will help us not only to ensure accuracy, but also to spur increased innovation in gender equality programming.  The success of the gender marker has inspired the launch of the capacity development tracker - a tool that we are using to measure how well we are integrating capacity development in all UNDP project planning.   The CD Tracker will ensure that our projects are of high quality and provide effective results-focused capacity development support to programme countries.  

In response to last year’s review of 23 UNDP Country Programme Documents, led by Canada, on behalf of a group of board members, I presented the recommendations of the review to the Gender Steering and Implementation Committee. I have tasked all the Bureaux Directors to address the review recommendations and take concrete actions to better integrate gender equality in the Country Action Plans of the Country Programme Documents through gender analysis, sex-disaggregated data, gender explicit outcomes, outputs and indicators and budget lines.  We are closely following this.

Through the GSIC we are asking each Bureau to make explicit commitments on gender equality. They will report back on these commitments in the GSIC meetings to be held this year, as a mechanism to maintain the focus and attention on gender equality.

President and Members of the Board:

I would like to thank all Member States for their constructive support and feedback on UNDP’s work on gender equality, and specifically the South African and Israeli delegation for their encouraging words this morning on the work of UNDP.  We welcome the call from South Africa to drive forward the agenda for women, especially on promoting political participation, gender-equality in post-conflict recovery, and ensuring women benefit from climate finance.  Working with UN Women and other UN agencies, we will continue to strive for a more equitable society.

Allow me to provide you some highlights of our results from our thematic work, noting some accomplishments under each goal in the Strategy.

On Goal One, Reducing Poverty and Achieving the MDGs:

The human costs of the economic downturn have been felt especially by the poorest and most vulnerable women and men.  This has brought to the fore the urgent need to refocus our interventions to promote inclusive, gender equitable and sustainable growth.

To share some examples: over 78 countries worked to promote women’s economic rights and opportunities, including by strengthening women’s and girls’ property and inheritance rights and reducing their burden of unpaid care work.

In Malawi and Lesotho, UNDP supported women’s economic empowerment initiatives that targeted women as providers of local government services. Women-led businesses, women’s community groups and local governments were assisted to form public-private partnerships to deliver essential services. 

UNDP- supported action research programme with home-based caregivers in six countries in Africa has contributed to a body of knowledge and a platform of caregivers who have made concrete gains:  their unpaid work is being recognized, they are directly engaged in decision-making forums, policy and programmes.  In our discussion I can highlight some of these good examples from Nigeria to South Africa, and Kenya, which are part of UNDP’s broader global work on unpaid care work – a burden that falls disproportionately on poor women.

Fifty seven country offices supported integration of gender equality in national plans and budget frameworks.   We worked with the rest of the UN system to implement the MDG Acceleration framework, focusing on key issues to women and girls, such as maternal health in Ghana and Uganda, public service delivery to advance education of girls in Lao PDR. 

We expanded the Gender and Economic Policy Management Initiative, or GEPMI, an innovative capacity development programme aimed at accelerating MDG progress by making poverty reduction and economic policies deliver equally for women and men, boys and girls.

The programme provides hands-on skills to government planning officials, parliamentary staff and civil society organizations to address the most critical gender issues in all aspects of economic policy making and budget management.   

I would like to thank the South African delegation for the constructive and positive feedback on this initiative, and stress that GEPMI is taking root in the Continent.  In its second year in Africa, GEPMI provides regional and national level advisory and training services on gender-responsive economic policy-making. Demand for such services in Africa is growing rapidly. We have provided country-specific advisory services in Namibia, Rwanda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. 2011 also saw the expansion of GEPMI to the Asia Pacific region and to the Arab States.  We are grateful to the governments of Korea and Bahrain for partnering with UNDP to promote inclusive and gender-equitable growth and increase women’s economic opportunities in these two regions.  

In Latin America, we are undertaking interesting research on time poverty that has important implications on gender equality, in an effort to develop new tools that take this aspect into account.  

UNDP has addressed the gender dimensions of HIV/AIDS through an integrated approach, for example, by tackling gender-based violence, women’s economic insecurity and legal disempowerment.  We worked to integrate gender equality into national legislation for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support in many countries, including Malawi, Tanzania and Zanzibar, and helped establish the first Russian Network of Women affected by HIV.

Turning to Goal Two, Fostering Democratic Governance.

President and Members of the Board:
In 2011, UNDP continued to work closely with partners to enhance women’s participation in decision-making and to promote women’s legal empowerment, both of which are areas where UNDP’s leadership within the UN is well-established.  

We tackled this work through various entry points, such as by building capacities of women candidates and providing gender advisory services to electoral management bodies, parliaments and political parties around the world.  In partnership with the National Democratic Institute, we finalized “Empowering Women for Stronger Political Parties,” the first global evidence-based guide that identifies concrete actions that political parties can undertake to promote women’s participation and advance gender equality throughout the electoral cycle.  

A highlight of our dialogue with political parties is Cambodia, where five political parties adopted action plans to promote women’s political participation and two political parties adopted a strategy and quota for women in local councils.

Another highlight is Tunisia, where we initiated the first “Summer University for Women in Politics” to build capacities of women aspiring for political office.  57 women were elected to the National Constituent Assembly, which represent over a quarter of all seats (not all trained by UNDP).  UNDP will continue to support women’s political participation in Tunisia and across the Arab region.

I am pleased to inform you that in 2011, UNDP launched an initiative to promote equal participation in Public Administration.  We are conducting a global study in 13 countries, covering all five regions, to identify good practices to advance women’s decision-making role in public administration. The study will be used for policy dialogue on gender-sensitive public administration reforms.  

We also work to strengthen women’s legal rights and access to justice. In more than 34 countries, we are working with national partners to strengthen women’s access to and control over land, resources, property and inheritance rights and family law. 

We also continued to address gender-based violence in all regions of the world.  In Paraguay, for example, UNDP helped build police capacities to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, including domestic violence and trafficking. The support resulted in the development of safe spaces for women in six police stations. UNDP helped strengthen national capacities to implement the Gender Equality Law in Mexico, and undertook a national survey on gender-based violence in Venezuela.  

I now turn to Goal 3, on Supporting Crisis Prevention and Recovery:

As you are aware, women throughout the world have played a major role in advancing peace and influencing peace-building processes. We know from evidence that if we forego women’s contributions and exclude women from peacemaking and peacebuilding processes, we lose an important opportunity to sustain women’s political and economic empowerment, promote inclusive governance and transform societies.

Yet, when it comes to development practice – progress has been slow and uneven. Women continue to disproportionately suffer the effects of crisis and miss out on the benefits of recovery.  To date, there are no formal mechanisms to include women in decision-making processes during conflict and peace-building.

At UNDP, we are working with partners, and especially with UN Women, to address these challenges.  We now co-lead the UN system in three out of seven priority areas of the Secretary General’s Report on Women’s Participation in Peacebuilding namely: inclusive governance; economic recovery; and rule of law and access to justice for women. 

UNDP continues to be an active participant in the UN Action Against Sexual Violence effort – where we are establishing rapid deployment capacities to assist governments to reinforce judicial systems weakened by conflict.  We help to strengthen national capacities to respond to sexual and gender based violence and to ensure that survivors can access legal and social services.

In our program countries, we are seeing some concrete results: In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, UNDP, MONUSCO, and other partners provided logistical, administrative and technical support to mobile courts that heard cases, most of which were related to sexual violence. In many countries, such as in Iraq, Nepal, South Sudan, Papa New Guinea, we are working to increase security for women by building the capacity of national institutions. 

The work on gender equality and women’s empowerment in crisis contexts is of central importance to the work of the UN, as clearly stated by UN Women, and to UNDP’s specific mandate, especially with respect to bridging gender gaps through disaster risk reduction and recovery programming. 


On Goal 4, Managing Environment and Energy for Sustainable Development:

Over the past several years, emerging research has demonstrated that climate change is impacting women and men differently.  In many regions, women and girls will feel its effects most acutely because of their particular roles, responsibilities and their access to resources.  But it would be a mistake to see them only as victims.  Women possess invaluable knowledge and skills and can be powerful agents of change, at the community, national, and regional levels, to respond to climate change challenges.

Since COP 13 in 2007 in Bali, UNDP, with its partners in the Global Gender and Climate Alliance, has led successful efforts to ensure women’s voices and concerns are brought into global climate change policy.  More gains were made this past December at COP-17 in Durban, South Africa.  The negotiating text now has gender equality principles firmly entrenched in the areas of climate change adaptation, mitigation, capacity building and technology.  

I am particularly pleased to inform you that over the past year, we have also succeeded in having major climate finance mechanisms recognize the centrality of gender equality in their mandates. As a result of our sustained policy advocacy and capacity building efforts, the operational policies and guidelines of the Adaptation Fund, the Climate Investment Fund and the new Green Climate Fund all now have gender equality as a key criterion.  The Global Environment Facility also has adopted a gender mainstreaming policy.  We are already witnessing higher standards of gender integration in the project proposals before these funds.  This is an exciting and expanding area of work, as more countries seek support from UNDP to move towards gender-responsive, climate-resilient growth paths.

Within the context of the Secretary General’s Energy Access for All initiative, we are working with partners to expand access to modern, clean energy services for the poor.  Since many rural women are primarily responsible for managing household cooking and energy needs, improving access to clean energy can have a significant positive impact on women’s health and enable them to use time saved in more productive ways.  Remember, indoor air pollution globally kills more women and children than malaria. UNDP is facilitating national plans and actions on universal energy access that are transformative by mobilizing women as active agents of change.

For example, through a partnership between the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme and the Barefoot College of India, rural women are being trained to maintain off-grid solar panels in several African countries, including in Benin, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Ghana.  This initiative is successfully providing clean energy to communities, and also empowering rural women and creating new employment opportunities.

President and Members of the Board:

I hope these highlights of our work in each thematic area have demonstrated how UNDP has made significant investments in integrating gender equality in all our development work and how these investments are yielding results. 

Of course, all of these achievements have been made in collaboration with various partners and other UN agencies, especially with UN Women.  Today, the UN system is working more closely together under the coordinating role of the UN Development Group on gender equality and UN Women.   As UN Women assumes greater leadership at the country level, UNDP stands ready to support it.  We are working together programmatically in approximately 41% of our country offices.  We are also partnering on system-wide initiatives, such as the Secretary-General’s Unite to End Violence Against Women campaign, and will work together to bring gender equality and women’s participation to Rio+20.

We are also sharing our experiences using the gender marker in a collective effort to strengthen system wide monitoring and accountability. As convener of the UN sub group on “Accounting for Resources for Gender Equality,” we are working closely with UN Women to develop system wide standards for tracking and reporting on allocations and expenditures for gender equality.

This year, we have committed to develop with UN Women, joint corporate guidance on how to maximize our collaboration. Both Helen Clark and Michelle Bachelet continue to use every opportunity to stress the importance of this collaboration and for the UN system overall to do more to address gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Gender parity in UNDP

President and Members of the Board:

I would now like to turn to the important goal of achieving gender parity within UNDP. 
UNDP’s total workforce is 50 -50 female to male, and gender parity has almost been achieved at the ASG level. However, we face challenges in realizing gender parity at the middle and senior management levels. In the international professional category, for example, at the senior management level (D1 and above), the percentage of women remains at 37% and middle management levels (P4, P5), at 36%.   At the junior management level (P1-P3) we have reached parity, at 54% women.

The Administrator and I are committed to get closer to parity at the middle and senior management levels and are taking steps to address this challenge.  As the Chair of the Gender Steering and Implementation Committee, I have asked each bureau director to submit annual targets and concrete action plans to achieve gender parity at these levels. We are also closely studying the reasons underlying women’s higher levels of attrition at middle and senior management levels to be able to respond more effectively. 

In conclusion, I would like to thank you, Members of the Board, for your continued support and oversight of our efforts. Your close monitoring of gender equality results, as well as your thoughtful inquiries about our work, have helped improve our delivery to programme countries. We continue to rely on your support and guidance to maintain and sustain the gains made. 

The importance – the absolute necessity – of gender equality and the empowerment of women for achieving our international development goals is no longer in question. As we move towards a new Strategic Plan, I would like to assure you that gender equality will remain central in all of UNDP’s work to empower lives and build resilient nations. 

Finally, I would like to thank Helen Clark, Olav Kjorven, Winnie Byanyima and all the UNDP staff who continue to be strong champions for gender equality in UNDP. 

I welcome your comments and questions.

Thank you.

Cameroon, Malawi, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda

See Price of Peace: Financing for Gender Equality in Post-Conflict Reconstruction, UNDP, 2010 Example:  South Sudan, Page 29. 

UNDP Around the world