U.N. Considers Adding Billion-Dollar Women's Agency
As if we didn't have enough trouble already at the United Nations (U.N.) from feminists pushing a radical agenda on the world, they are now trying to "reform" the whole "gender architecture" of the U.N. A coalition of 157 representatives from Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) are using the 51st Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) -- holding its annual two-week session in New York at U.N. headquarters from February 26 through March 9) -- as a platform to urge Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to accept a proposal for the creation of a new U.N. women's agency, put it on a fast track for implementation and fund the agency "ambitiously."
The High-Level Panel of U.N. System-Wide Coherence (don't you just love the titles of U.N. entities?) prompted the "gender equity" proposal for the new agency. The panel is composed of 15 members who are heads of government, former world political leaders and senior government and U.N. officials. They stated that their recommendation for a new women's agency should be considered a "mandate of the entire U.N. system" and that the new "dynamic entity focused on gender equality and women's empowerment" should be "ambitiously" funded. Such a strongly worded recommendation is clear indication of the already-existing power and influence of so-called "women's rights" groups at the U.N.. For instance, the Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) is demanding that the U.N. consult with "women's rights groups" as the new agency is developed so that their "perspectives" will be integral in its operations.
The U.N. currently funds over $65 million for its various women's programs, but the leftist NGOs argue that much more money is needed; African women leaders are saying at least a billion dollars is the minimum necessary "to make up for lost time and to turn rhetoric into reality." To put the money "in its right perspective," argues a joint statement by African leaders, including Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia, and Graca Machel, President of the Foundation for Community Development in Mozambique, "Surely, ameliorating the lives of half the global population is worth one billion dollars a year -- for a start." In asking for more money for "women's work," others at the CSW point out that UNFPA (the U.N. Population Fund) is funded at $450 million and UNICEF, the children's agency, has a $2 billion budget.
In addition to providing more funding, the proposed women's agency would also add clout and power to women's efforts through the U.N.. The cover letter for the proposal was not shy in revealing that purpose, "Women's groups urge governments to demonstrate their political will during the General Assembly sessions by endorsing the coherence panel's recommendations on creating stronger gender equality architecture at the United Nations, and by establishing and adhering to a process and time-frame for implementation." The plan would unite three existing entities -- the U.N. Development Fund for Women (U.N.IFEM), the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues (OSAGI) and the U.N. Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) -- to be headed by an under-secretary-general, the third highest ranking member of the U.N. after the Secretary-General.
When the feminists call for "political will" they are asking the U.N. to push harder to implement the Beijing Platform for Action, the Millennium Development Goals and, especially, CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women). June Zeitlin, Executive Director of WEDO, called the reform "critical" for achieving the goals of the treaties that she considers "commitments." She told reporters, "There is a clear consensus that the current structure is insufficient to meet the needs of women around the world or to fulfill the commitments governments have made at [the 1995 Women's Conference in] Beijing and other U.N. world conferences."
Charlotte Bunch of the Centre for Women's Global Leadership (CWGL) told reporters that the proposal would only work "if it is well resourced and also operational at the country level."
She argued that the United Nations had to do more than "pronounce good words on women's rights;" the U.N. has to "put greater resources behind them at all levels or it will lose its legitimacy on this issue." WEDO insists, with its typical audacity, that the U.N.'s legitimacy on the issue includes sending senior-level U.N. "gender equity experts" with support staff to every country with requisite authority and sufficient funding to monitor implementation of women's rights.
Secretary General Ban has agreed to meet with the women's groups supporting the proposed new agency. The groups, among the most vocal and influential at the U.N. -- WEDO, CWGL, African Women's Development Fund, Amnesty International, Asia Pacific Women's Watch, Equality Now, Global Fund for Women, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, International Gender Policy Network, Human Rights Watch, Nobel Women's Initiative, the Open Society Institute and Sisters Beyond Boundaries -- have long campaigned for a women's agency and more funding for women's programs. The groups have urged their members to "flood" the new Secretary General with notes about their "willingness" to work with him to ensure the reality of "gender equity."
Efforts to establish the new women's agency are part of bigger picture of "drastic changes" in the way the U.N. approaches development. A 52-page report late last year titled, "Deliver as One," called for system-wide "coherence" and "coordination" in the work of the U.N.. In an amazing bit of understatement, the report bluntly stated that the U.N. "was losing its ability to be as effective as it could be" because of "limited accountability for performance, competition for funding, creeping missions and outdated business practices."
Establishing a U.N. agency for women's rights would dramatically strengthen the already-incredibly strong radical feminist influence at the U.N., and it would virtually ensure that abortion would become a human right around the world. Having a high-level, high-profile, highly-funded agency to promote the "women's rights" agenda would establish yet another roadblock to addressing the real needs of women.
Janice Shaw Crouse, Director and Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America's Beverly LaHaye Institute, will be in New York at the U.N.'s Commission on the Status of Women for the next two weeks. She will be writing a nightly commentary on each day's proceedings.
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