Speech: Working together for the world’s women and girls

We discussed this morning our work in Africa. I want to reiterate that Africa remains a priority region for me and for UN Women. My colleagues shared, and we discussed, that it is a region not only of some of the greatest challenges for our mandate, but also some of the most impressive achievements for equality to be recognized, reinforced, and shared. I am pleased to share that my next trip will be to Africa. I will visit Tanzania shortly after the UN General Assembly, and I look forward to it. We will continue to invest in the African Women Leaders Network and other partners, including donors who have raised their voices here and with whom we share such fruitful collaboration on the ground. As in all areas, our work in Africa is premised on our place at the heart of the UN system, doing everything with and through our sister entities. This will continue.

Yesterday we had our regular structured dialogue on financing. I appreciated your recognition of our efforts to live up to the UN’s side of the Funding Compact and the progress that we have made in resource mobilization. I note that you clearly share my concern about the growing imbalance between core and non-core resources, and I am thankful to Member States who also noted that our mandate demands a higher core-to-non-core ratio than some other parts of the UN system. We heard your calls for us to look at diversification in our resource base, and we will continue to step up our efforts in that regard. At the same time, I must stress that diversification alone will not deliver a solution to our financing challenges. We continue to count on you to maintain and to grow contributions to regular resources. And, again, we very much thank our donors for what they already do. That we seek to extend your generosity further, particularly with regard to our regular resources, does not reflect any lack of appreciation from our side. We thank you for all your support throughout.

I have heard your impatience for our discussions on the financial review. I am impatient too. I have asked that the process, which was due to complete in November, be accelerated so that we can meet within a month, early in October, on the full package of the financial review together with our audit and the management response. I look forward to your feedback then and guidance in this area as in others.

Today we also talked about our oversight function and UN Women’s Independent Audit and Evaluation Service. I have heard your calls for a strong independent oversight function for our entity. I could not support them more strongly. I expect UN Women to demonstrate the highest standards of integrity. Of transparency. Of effectiveness and efficiency. And I expect to be judged as Executive Director on the extent to which we achieve that. In that regard, I am committed to ensuring that the Independent Evaluation and Audit Services have the resources they need—sustainable and predictable—to do the job. I also heard Member States’ call for more frequent briefings for the Board from the Services, and we will deliver that. Importantly, I recognize our responsibility to listen to and act upon the recommendations from the Services, and I will insist that we track this and improve our performance in that area. I must also confirm again that the Ethics function will be up and running by the end of this year.

There are crucial areas of work that we will need to devote more attention to in later sessions. Among these is our work under the Spotlight Initiative in line with various delegates’ noting the importance of the work on ending violence against women at different points in our deliberations. As you know, UN Women was tasked with implementation of one third of the Initiative’s USD 500 million in 25 countries, and it is a success story, supporting the women’s movement in securing progress; strengthening grassroots capacity; building an evidence base, including on what works and what does not; and, more generally, modeling a truly comprehensive approach and its benefits.

In 2021 alone, we saw 198 laws or policies were signed or strengthened in 41 countries; gender-based violence convictions more than doubled across Spotlight countries; and 1.3 million men and boys were educated on positive masculinity, respectful family relationships, and non-conflict resolution. That Resident Coordinators in 22 programmes selected UN Women as a technical lead also speaks to our success in this area in placing ourselves at the heart of the UN system at country level.

I also heard the reference to masculinities and to our work with men and boys and I look forward to talking more about this in subsequent sessions. I will just note that we have our HeForShe event at the General Assembly, and this, and the campaign overall, are important reflections of our commitment and energy in this area.

I started my opening remarks yesterday by telling you that it was a pleasure to take up our deliberations again after the annual session, and it has really been so. I laid out to you my assessment of my first year, and your reaction is encouraging as well as substantive in guiding me on the years ahead. I thank you for your trust in the organizational reforms and strengthening that we are undertaking. We will work to continue to deserve it.

I thank you for your appreciation of our work in the intergovernmental space and with partners. The agenda in the upcoming year is heavy, and we look forward to working with all of you on it. And I thank you, in particular, for your generous recognition of our work in crises. The UN Women staff who do such work are the heroes and “sheroes” of our organization, and they will be energized by your words.

Most of all I thank you for your partnership. It is invaluable for all UN Women staff to know we have a Board that offers such unwavering support.

The task for us all now is to go away from here and maintain this energy and this momentum, championing gender equality and SDG 5 in the context of Agenda 2030, Our Common Agenda, and across our collective work. I challenge us all to make the time between now and our coming together again at the start of next year as fruitful for the world’s women and girls as the last two days have been.

I thank you.