Permanent Mission of Iceland to the UN
New York


UNICEF Executive Board Annual Session on Gender Equality - Joint Statement

Madame President,

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Liberia, Malawi, the Netherlands, Norway and the United States of America.

First let me take this opportunity to welcome UNICEF’s important efforts toward the mainstreaming of gender equality through its entire humanitarian and development work. As a follow-up to its gender evaluation, UNICEF has systematically invested in its gender work with the aim of improving gender equality both within the agency as well as at the national and regional levels. We welcome the fact that UNICEF is seeking to enhance the synergy between its new equity approach and its gender equality policy.

The report is overall encouraging and shows how the organization has integrated gender into its human resource management, plans, programmes and analysis. We applaud UNICEF for having moved beyond having a single gender focal person towards working in groups and including staff from different disciplines and levels. This will surely lead to a wider gender awareness as well as better mainstreaming throughout along with enhanced results. While these are important achievements, we would like to broaden the scope of future reports to include project outcomes and impact at country and regional levels, in addition to the current focus on internal organization processes.

Amid positive developments there are some concerning trends, especially at the country level. Country Programme Documents showed a slight drop in meeting quality assurance standards. Even more notably, only 6% of respondents to the self-assessment indicated that they had discussed gender equality at length with their supervisors in 2010 (down from 8 % in 2009). We find it vital that special attention be paid to gender equality in performance appraisals and would be interested in hearing how senior management at regional and country level is held accountable for the implementation of the Strategic Priority Action Plan (SPAP) on gender equality. We further commend UNICEF's decision to add a gender e-learning component to the recommended staff training and would like to see it developed further as a mandatory training requirement for all staff.

Furthermore, we hope that the improved monitoring system of UNICEF will efficiently lead to better results. The development of the gender equality marker (GEM) can be mentioned as an example of positive improvements. We would like to know if the GEM will be comparable with the OECD's Gender marker; and how it differs or resembles the gender markers developed by OCHA and the GenCap project as well as the one by UNDP. We believe that the GEM can be an important tool for tracking resource allocations and expenditures meant for advancing gender equality and look forward to further reporting on its implementation. The ambition should be to have a common gender marker across the UN system.

With regard to internal accountability, UNICEF has invested in strengthening systems and capacity. An important step was taken with the establishment of a high-level Gender Equality Task Force to monitor the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan on Gender Equality, as high-level commitment is crucial for results. Increased collection of sex-disaggregated data is another positive development, although they are not yet fully analyzed; and this disaggregated collection remains underutilized in the assessment, monitoring and evaluation at the national and regional level. We would therefore like to see how senior management will make sure that available data is analysed and used to further contribute to gender equality. In addition, we would like to see how regional and sectoral differences that the report points out in meeting gender mainstreaming and equality standards will be approached. Future reports would further benefit from a clearer description of how implemented measures have lead to results in the field, analysis of the challenges faced and the measures that the Organization will initiate in order to strengthen results achievement.

Partnership is crucial when it comes to results on the ground and we commend UNICEF for its continued strengthening of the cooperation with other UN agencies. Collaboration with UN Women and UNFPA is of key importance when it comes to capacity building, harmonization and sharing of results and best practices. As well we would like to see in future reports how UNICEF works with Governments and local authorities and their systems in order to ensure results on the promotion of the rights of women and children and gender equality at national and regional level. We would appreciate information on how mainstreaming of girls‘ access to education is addressed in the policy dialogue at country level? – has a mechanism been established to ensure that this issue is raised systematically in the policy dialogue?

Regarding human resources within the organization, the report mentions that there has been little change in representation of women in senior positions within UNICEF since 2008. How will the management team address this issue? In addition, we feel that knowledge of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls should be taken into account in staff recruitment.

The important role of men and boys in the attainment of gender equality should not be forgotten. We would like to seek further and more concrete information on UNICEF’s efforts to this end and what it actually means to engage men and boys in gender equality work.

Finally, advancing gender equality requires constant work and review of the actions taken. We would like to reiterate the request the Board made in 2009 that progress in UNICEF’s gender equality work be discussed every year at the Annual Session. I wish to assure you that Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Liberia, Malawi, the Netherlands, Norway and the United States of America will continue to support UNICEF in this important work.

Thank you.


Inspired by Iceland