United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) UNIFEM Currents: UNIFEM's Electronic Newsletter

Meet UNIFEM’s New Executive Director: Inés Alberdi

UNIFEM Executive Director Inés AlberdiInés Alberdi of Spain started her tenure as Executive Director of UNIFEM on 5 May 2008. “I am delighted to take on my new responsibilities,” said Ms. Alberdi of her appointment. “I come with high hopes and am determined to make my contribution. For me, UNIFEM has been a key reference in the struggle for women’s rights and gender equality throughout the years. I want the organization to continue to be at the cutting edge of these issues and will dedicate all my efforts to this.” Ms. Alberdi has worked for more than 25 years on gender issues and in politics. She comes to UNIFEM from her previous position as Professor of Sociology at Madrid University, where she had taught Political Sociology and Sociology of Gender since 1993. Read more about Ms. Alberdi.

Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict

UN Security Council unanimously approves resolution 1820 on women, peace and securityUNIFEM Commends Unanimous Security Council Call to End Sexual Violence
On 19 June 2008, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1820 on women, peace and security, demanding the “immediate and complete cessation by all parties to armed conflict of all acts of sexual violence against civilians” and affirming that “rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide.” UNIFEM Executive Director Inés Alberdi said in an official statement: “The resolution signals to past and would-be perpetrators that the world's foremost security institution is watching. It urges sanctions for violations and calls for the Secretary-General to report on implementation. To recognize sexual violence as a security issue is to justify a security response. … The Security Council resoundingly recognized that durable peace can never be built on women’s silent suffering.” Read the complete statement.

Wilton Park Conference Urges Recognition and Response to Sexual Violence
as a Security Issue

“Women Targeted or Affected by Armed Conflict: What Role for Military Peacekeepers?” was the question presented to a high-level Wilton Park conference held on 27–30 May 2008 in Sussex, England. Co-organized by UNIFEM, the conference provided a focused opportunity for policy-makers, UN agencies, military force commanders and others engaged in peacekeeping operations to explore how the political and tactical response could be strengthened to prevent and combat sexual violence and other forms of violent intimidation against women used as a means of prosecuting warfare and perpetuating insecurity. Participants identified obstacles impeding the protection of women; analyzed effective strategies that could be replicated; and considered ways of integrating these strategies into training, mandates and rules of engagement. They stressed the need for the UN Security Council to recognize the targeted use of sexual violence as a matter of international peace and security. The conference report provided crucial background to the adoption of the historic UN Security Council resolution 1820 on women, peace and security (see above). Read the report.

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Financing for Gender Equality

Women’s Working Group Develops Recommendations on Financing for Development
On 16–17 June 2008, the Women’s Working Group (WWG) on Financing for Development (FFD), with the support of UNIFEM, held a consultation in New York that concluded with the presentation of a set of recommendations to Ambassador Abdelaziz of Egypt and Ambassador Løvald of Norway, Co-Chairs of the FFD review process, as inputs to the outcome document of the upcoming Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus in Doha, Qatar, 29 November – 2 December 2008.

Speakers and discussants stressed the importance of employing a gender perspective and analysis in addressing the national, international and systemic challenges of financing development, particularly in the context of the current financial, food and climate change crises. They called for a “holistic approach to engendering the FFD process, which looks at the interconnections among trade and finance in all forms — aid, investment, debt and domestic savings.”

The consultation included a strong focus on the promotion of participatory and gender-responsive budgets, the strengthening of commitments to decent work, and the utilization of progressive and redistributive taxation schemes. It also addressed issues of:

  • generating and operationalizing traditional and innovative sources of financing for development;
  • the “weakening” of the State and the increasing dominance of the financial sector;
  • the importance of additionality and the non-loan nature of development finance in addressing the current food and climate change crises;
  • conditionality and the positioning of gender as “good” conditionality;
  • the weakness of current development indicators in measuring progress towards intended goals and commitments; and
  • the effectiveness of the “cross-cutting issues” strategy.

Civil Society Hearings on Financing for Development
The WWG consultation was timed to take place immediately prior to the 18 June informal hearings of civil society on Financing for Development at UN headquarters, with presentations by eight civil society organizations and networks, including one by the Women’s Working Group on FFD. The panel was followed by an interactive dialogue with Member States, UN agencies, and representatives from civil society and the private sector.

Panellists addressed issues relating to each chapter of the Monterrey Consensus, as well as financing gender equality, and climate change adaptation and mitigation. They reiterated the primary importance of domestic resource mobilization, taxation and savings to financing for development; many spoke on the challenges faced by governments in expanding fiscal space for countercyclical policies within limits imposed by trade, and conditionalities linked to loans and debt relief. Speakers further highlighted the use of participatory gender-responsive budgeting as a key policy instrument at the national level to address gender inequalities and finance development.

The panellists also called for stronger mechanisms on international tax cooperation, the implementation of a currency transaction tax, greater cooperation from governments in ensuring access to information by civil society in order to enhance their ability to engage the public, and an intergovernmental meeting to address challenges faced by governments in effectively managing competition for foreign direct investment (FDI) and other flows.

More information on the hearings, including links to panel presentations and statements by Member States, is available on the Financing for Development website. For more information on Financing for Gender Equality, please contact Ms. Barbara Adams, barbara.adams[at]unifem.org, +1 212 906-6639.

Civil society has been working to develop benchmarks for measuring the success of the preparatory process on FFD. Women’s organizations and gender equality advocates have contributed to the process and output, which calls for the promotion of gender-responsive budgets, greater use of sex-disaggregated data, and the creation of decent work for all, and recognizes that “the greater allocation of domestic resources toward gender equality is critical to achieving MDG3.” Read the benchmarks document.

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UNIFEM around the World

Prime ministers and foreign ministers of 10 countries sign onto UNIFEM's Say NO to Violence against Women campaign at an event in Vienna on 23 June 2008.Heads of State or Government, Ministers Endorse Say NO to Violence against Women Campaign
Following a call by UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman for widespread support of UNIFEM's Say NO to Violence against Women campaign, Heads of State or Government and Ministers from ten more countries have added their names to the campaign as a public expression of political will to make ending violence against women a priority. The campaign's new government advocates include: President of Tanzania Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Prime Minister of Lebanon Fouad Siniora, Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority Salam Fayyad, Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Jordanian Foreign Minister Salah Eddin Al Bashir, Liechtenstein Foreign Minister Rita Kieber-Beck, Spanish Minister for Equality Bibiana Aido who signed on behalf of the whole Spanish Government, Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey and EU Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner. In Japan, the Mayor of Sakai City Keisuke Kihara, and Mayor of the City of Yokohama Hiroshi Nakada represented the first leaders of municipalities to sign the campaign. Read more:

UNIFEM Head Newest Torch Bearer in Campaign to Empower WomenUNIFEM Head Newest Torch Bearer in Campaign to Empower Women
UNIFEM Executive Director Inés Alberdi became the latest recipient of the MDG3 Champion Torch on 11 June 2008, committing the agency to “doing something extra” in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment. Ms. Alberdi reaffirmed UNIFEM’s strong commitment to efforts aimed at ending violence against women and pledged that every effort would be made to ensure that the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, which UNIFEM manages on behalf of the UN system, would grow to a $100 million fund by 2015. She added that UNIFEM will also “vigorously reach out to men as key partners. ... Reaching out to men in all walks of life will be central to our efforts as we ensure that we continue to address violence against women as both a cause and a consequence of HIV/AIDS.” Read the complete story. Read Ms. Alberdi's acceptance speech.

UNIFEM Challenges Governments to Make the Response to AIDS Work for Women and Girls
The 2008 High-Level Meeting on AIDS was held at UN headquarters on 9–11 June 2008. UNIFEM served as co-lead of Panel 3: “Making the Response to AIDS Work for Women and Girls: Gender Equality and AIDS.” Speaking on behalf of the UN, Executive Director Inés Alberdi said that “it is vitally important to address the links between HIV and AIDS and violence against women and girls ... both a cause and a consequence of HIV among women of all ages, but especially young women and girls.” Read the complete speech.
        UNIFEM also co-organized a side event titled “Financing and Resourcing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in the Context of HIV and AIDS” with the World YWCA, Global Coalition on Women and AIDS, Church World Service, and Women Won’t Wait. Panellists and audience members called on governments to increase funding for home-based care and female condoms as well as implementing and enforcing laws pertaining to violence against women, involvement of civil society and HIV-positive women, and ensuring that funding procedures follow the principles of gender equality. For more information, please contact Ms. Nazneen Damji, nazneen.damji[at]unifem.org, +1 212 906-6631.

UNIFEM and INSTRAW Call for Effective Aid to Gender Equality in the
Fight against HIV and AIDS

UNIFEM and the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) called for increased financial support to gender equality and women's empowerment in the fight against HIV and AIDS at the “Expert Group Consultation on Tracking and Monitoring Gender Equality and HIV in Aid Effectiveness,” held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on 28–30 May 2008. Participants called on governments, donor agencies, civil society and the UN system to focus on the intersection of HIV, violence against women, and sexual and reproductive health and rights by ensuring alignment of HIV programmes, national development priorities and international commitments on women's rights and HIV and AIDS. Read complete story.


Afghan Women Urge Renewed Commitment to Gender Equality
At a donors’ conference in Paris on 12 June 2008 to review aid effectiveness in Afghanistan, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a joint declaration that commits them to “support the implementation of the National Action Plan for Women.” Prior to the conference, Afghan women parliamentarians had joined forces to call on the international community and the Government of Afghanistan to back words with action by implementing urgently needed measures to safeguard women’s human rights and promote their equal participation in building a peaceful Afghanistan. In a meeting in Kabul, facilitated by UNIFEM, they drafted an open letter on the pressing needs of women and girls in education, security, employment and health services, and urged the international community to fully fund the gender equality commitments of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy and fully adopt the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan. For more information, please contact Mr. Ziad Sheikh, ziad.sheikh[at]unifem.org, +93 (0) 20 212 4709.


Intergovernmental Network of National Women's Machineries Created in Andean Region
Ministers of Women's Affairs from six Andean countries signed a statement that formally established the Intergovernmental Network of National Women's Machineries in the Andean Region. The document defines the Network as a space for dialogue, exchange of experiences, analysis, awareness raising, and coordination to promote and set in motion public policies designed to bring about advances for women through the institutionalization of gender equality within the Andean Region. The act occurred during the Second Meeting of Ministers of Women's Affairs, held in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, on 26–28 March 2008. The Network will be incorporated into the system of the Community of Andean Nations. For more information, please contact Ms. Caterina de Tena, caterina.de-tena[at]unifem.org


UNIFEM Wins Political Innovation Prize for Gender-Responsive Budgeting
Project in Senegal

UNIFEM has been awarded the Prize for Political Innovation for its “Gender-Responsive Budgeting in Senegal” project. The prize was awarded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) during the Fair on Scouting and Sharing Innovation in Western and Central Africa, which took place in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on 23–26 June 2008. UNIFEM presented the results of its pilot project to incorporate a gender perspective into the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture of Senegal. UNIFEM also made important contributions to the Senegalese Government's response to the world food crisis, helping to incorporate a gender perspective into the programme of support to the reconstitution of seeds capital, the national programme for rice self-sufficiency, and the Great Agricultural Offensive for Food and Abundance (GONA). Read the complete story.

High-Level Consultation Calls for Eradication of Sexual Violence and End to Impunity in the Great Lakes RegionHigh-Level Consultation Calls for Eradication of Sexual Violence and End to Impunity in the Great Lakes Region
A high-level consultation was held in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, on 16–18 June 2008, with the aim of developing a regional action plan to implement the Protocol on the Prevention and Suppression of Sexual Violence against Women and Children in the Great Lakes Region, adopted by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). The consultation, organized by the ICGLR Secretariat in partnership with UNIFEM, brought together representatives from the ICGLR member states, the United Nations and other development partners, and civil society organizations from across the region. Key recommendations include: increase of funds from national budgets to prevent sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV); provision of medical and psycho-social assistance to victims and the strengthening of state institutions intervening on SGBV issues; and replication of successful initiatives to support SGBV victims such as the multipurpose service centres and Gender-Based Violence Desks within police stations and military units. Read the complete story.

Sudanese Women Express Grave Concerns about Women’s Situation and Lack of Funding
During the second Sudanese Donors’ Consortium, held in Norway on 6–7 May 2008, a group of women from all parts of Sudan attended a parallel forum in Oslo facilitated by UNIFEM, the Initiative for Inclusive Security, and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In a meeting ahead of the conference, the group expressed grave concerns about the situation of women in Sudan and sent an urgent appeal to donors for resources to specifically address women’s needs. In a joint declaration, the Sudanese women highlighted the persistence of extremely poor human development indicators in relation to women’s and girls’ literacy, maternal mortality, productive asset security, economic and political empowerment, and protection from gender-based violence. The declaration points out several gaps in aid performance from a gender equality perspective and calls for increased government and donor accountability to women. At the conference, the World Bank announced that gender equality will be one of the criteria against which proposals are assessed for the Multi-Donor Trust Fund it manages. Read the complete story.

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Recent Resources

Transforming the National AIDS Response: Mainstreaming Gender Equality and Women’s Human Rights into the ‘Three Ones’Transforming the National AIDS Response: Mainstreaming Gender Equality and Women’s Human Rights into the ‘Three Ones’. This guide highlights a number of approaches and presents case studies of successful initiatives that demonstrate how incorporating a gender equality perspective into HIV and AIDS programmes and policies can transform national responses to the AIDS pandemic. It provides a number of tools, checklists and guidelines that have been developed to inform HIV and AIDS policies and frameworks and their implementation. Read more.

New Videos on Gender-Responsive BudgetingNew Videos on Gender-Responsive Budgeting. UNIFEM has released two new videos on gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) initiatives in Bolivia and Morocco. The short films showcase the key roles played by Ministries of Finance, national women's machineries, local councillors, and women's organizations in ensuring that budgets respond to women's priorities and adequately address gender inequality. View the videos: Bolivia, Morocco.

Gender Responsive Budgeting NewsletterGender Responsive Budgeting Newsletter. This quarterly newsletter seeks to encourage knowledge sharing from gender budget initiatives around the world, share news on progress made in incorporating a gender perspective into budgeting, and inform practitioners of new resources and publications on gender-responsive budgeting (GRB). Each issue sheds light on the efforts of specific actors in relation to GRB, demonstrates the application of GRB in a particular area, and highlights a specific country or regional programme supported by UNIFEM or other agencies. Read more.

Women on the Frontline SeriesWomen on the Frontline Series. Together with UNFPA and the Austrian Government, UNIFEM has produced a series of seven films on violence against women and girls and efforts to end it. Women on the Frontline showcases experiences in Austria, DRC, Colombia, Mauritania, Morocco, Nepal and Turkey and was aired on BBC World. Read more [fra].

Job Vacancies

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About UNIFEM Currents

UNIFEM Currents is the electronic news bulletin of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). It provides up-to-date information briefs on UNIFEM initiatives, successes, events, projects and activities worldwide. It is published several times per year and delivered by e-mail. Click here to subscribe to UNIFEM Currents.

is the women’s fund at the United Nations. It provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategies to foster women's empowerment and gender equality. Placing the advancement of women's human rights at the centre of all of its efforts, UNIFEM focuses its activities on reducing feminized poverty; ending violence against women; reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and girls; and achieving gender equality in democratic governance in times of peace as well as war. For more information, visit www.unifem.org.

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