03.07.2007 -

"6O mn to convince" on Gender Equality

The weekly “60 Minutes” meetings, organized by BPI, offer an occasion for staff, members of Permanent Delegations and guest speakers, to meet and discuss themes and activities of importance to UNESCO.

Gender Equality

"Achieving gender equality and empowering women is a goal in itself. It is also a condition for building healthier, better educated, more peaceful and more prosperous societies." UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Gender equality means that women and men enjoy the same opportunities, rights and obligations in all spheres of life. Equality between men and women exists when both are equal actors, partners, and beneficiaries of sustainable development, human rights, peace and security. Gender equality in education, for example, needs to be understood as the right to education (access and participation), as well as rights within education (gender-aware educational environments, processes, and outcomes), and rights through education (meaningful education outcomes).

For UNESCO and the UN at large, gender equality is a fundamental right, a common value and a necessary condition for the achievement of international development objectives, including all Millennium Development Goals.

What is UNESCO’s approach?

UNESCO’s approach to the promotion of gender equality can be summed up as “Gender Equality Plus (+)”. This describes UNESCO’s focus on the promotion of both gender equality and the empowerment of women. It implies identifying and redressing power imbalances and giving women more autonomy to manage their own lives because women's empowerment is vital to sustainable development and the realisation of human rights for all. UNESCO, along with many other UN organizations, bilateral development agencies and non-governmental organizations, adopts a gender mainstreaming strategy as a way of ensuring that women as well as men benefit equally from programme and policy support.

What is “Gender Mainstreaming”?

Gender mainstreaming is intended to be transformative, altering the process of development in such a way that equality becomes both a means and an end.

In accordance with the Organization’s key functions and internationally- agreed standards and norms, UNESCO’s role in promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality, involves:

  • Providing Member States with gender-responsive policy advice supporting the achievement of UNESCO’s objectives;
  • Monitoring global trends that hinder or support women’s empowerment and gender equality, in order to help Member States track progress and identify effective strategies that can make a difference; 
  • Building, at country-level, gender mainstreaming capacities and competencies in the areas of education; the sciences, technology & engineering, communication-related fields, the arts and cultural industries.

Change through Training

Gender mainstreaming training is one of the key methods to support the behaviour and organizational changes that are needed to effectively mainstream gender equality.

In 2005, UNESCO launched a mandatory house-wide Capacity Development and Training Programme in Gender Mainstreaming. The very first of its kind within the UN system, this Programme seeks to improve staff understanding of gender concepts and gender equality issues in order to ensure the integration of women’s empowerment and gender equality perspectives in programme and project implementation, monitoring and evaluation. The aim is to promote gender equality in all UNESCO activities and programmes.

To date, four programme Sectors (ED, CLT, SC & CI) have received training, as have field staff in Latin America, Africa and the Iraq office. Field Offices in Asia and the SHS Sector in Headquarters will be trained in 2007.

Gender mainstreaming in peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction

UNESCO has been actively assisting and supporting women’s peace-building activities since the mid-1990s. More specifically, UNESCO’s efforts seek to:

  • Support women’s full and equal participation in democratic peace building processes;
  • Strengthen women’s capacities and leadership as peace–builders in formal and informal processes;
  • Build enabling social, political and cultural environments (including more balanced gender relations) that sustain women’s peace efforts and secure lasting gains in favour of gender equality Committed to ensuring that both men and women equally benefit and participate in peace-building, reconstruction and reconciliation efforts, UNESCO is engaged in several innovative initiatives involving women journalists, educators and artists.

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