Gender-Equality at the United Nations Explicated by Slovenian Ambassador - December 2006

  • Ambassador Eva Tomic, (center) the Deputy Representative to the United Nations of Slovenia was the guest speaker at the International Breakfast meeting in December. She joined the Foreign Service of Slovenia and was first assigned to New York in 1991. During her career, she headed the Department Human Rights in Slovenia, and also worked with the International Criminal Court. In recent years, she served as the Vice-Chair of the Commission on Sustainable Development, and has worked with the Third Committee of the UN which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural issues such as immigration, youth and family. Also included in the Photo are the meeting's moderator, Joe Klee (left), and Mats Ingemanson (NY Rotarian and Editor of Rotary Global History Fellowship)

    Since its independence in 1991 from the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia is one of the nine new European countries that joined the EU. And with only 2 million people, Ambassador Tomic is ostensibly very proud that her country has been selected to head the European Union in 2008 after Germany in 2007.

    Ambassador Tomic opened the discussion by stating that the UN is well represented by gender equality agencies, but that the organization as a whole has not utilized these entities as effectively as it could. She spoke about the need for continued commitment for gender "mainstreaming" at the highest levels of the UN. In addition, the Ambassador stressed the importance of interaction between different UN branches on gender equality. ("Gender Mainstreaming" is one of the strategies for achieving gender equality. It involves ensuring that gender perspectives, and attention to the goal of gender equality, are central to all activities.)

    Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) also promoted the participation of women and bringing gender perspectives to the center of all United Nations peace-making, peacekeeping, peace-building and reconstruction efforts.

    The UN agencies that promote gender-equality within the UN Organizational structure include:
  • OSAGI - Office of Special Advisor on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women .
  • UNIFEM - UN Development Fund for Women advocates the strengthening of gender equality programming of UN operational agencies. It also conducts very effective work on the ground working with NGO's.
  • INSTRAW -International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women which promoted research on equity for women issues.
  • CSW- Commission on the Status of Women which is a part of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
  • UNDAW - UN Division for the Advancement of Women
  • IANWGE - The Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality is a network of gender focal points in UN entities. The Network is chaired by the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women.

    The latest proposal of the UN Reform panel recommends the implementation of a "One UN Policy" at the country level. For example, there are 24 UN agencies operating in Columbia. Consequently, establishing communication or coordination of goals and objectives while incorporating gender issues into the decision process may be compromised. By merging all agencies into one, gender-equality issues can be more effectively incorporated in the decision and policy making process.

    It was also pointed out by the meeting's moderator, Josef Klee, that the former Secretary General was committed to achieving gender employment parity with 50% the core, non-civil service posts should be held by women. Currently there are 2,700 "Core Posts" that have been identified to be under this quota system. At present, 43% of these posts are now held by women. While this percentage may be impressive when compared with other large organizations, it is still not parity. As a result, women now receive some advantage when applying for one of these positions. Unfortunately, this as expected creates the conundrum of not discriminating against men.

    Rotary International's UN representative, Sylvan Barnet, noted that at least six of the MDG's, if not all, are particularly favorable to women. There is a "Feminization of poverty, water, and HIV/AIDs, since women are more affected by these developmental issues than men. He also noted that Rotary is very committed to incorporating women in international development evidenced by the more than 50% of the one thousand Rotary Ambassadorial Scholars are women, as are 60% of the Rotary Peace Fellows.