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The Push for the U.N. to GEAR Up

The Push for the U.N. to GEAR Up

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 continue trying to “reform” the whole “gender architecture” of the U.N. A coalition of 82 organizations in over 35 countries are using the 52nd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) – holding its annual two-week session in New York at U.N. headquarters from February 25 through March 7 – as a platform to urge member states of the U.N. 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.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is already backing this effort. His message on November 25, 2007 for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women included this quote, “I believe we could significantly advance our cause by replacing several current structures with one dynamic U.N. entity. Such a new body should be able to call on all of the U.N. system’s resources in the work to empower women and realize gender equality worldwide.”

The new global campaign is called Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR). In order to achieve women’s empowerment and equality through this new entity for women, the feminists state, “It must be funded initially at a minimum level of $500 million to $1 billion USD with increases over time.” [emphasis added] That certainly is an ambitious funding goal.

The High-Level Panel of U.N. System-Wide Coherence (don’t you just love the titles of U.N. entities?) prompted the “gender equality” proposal for the new agency in 2006. 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 a 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) demanded 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.

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 (UNIFEM), 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. GEAR’s talking points want this leadership structure “to ensure the necessary status required for representation and decision-making at the highest levels both in policy-development and program operations at the global and country levels. The new Under-Secretary-General post would provide higher level leadership than at present to more effectively drive the gender equality and women’s empowerment agenda.”

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.”

The current “insufficient” structure includes WomenWatch, an Initiative of the Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality (IANWGE) which “is the central gateway to information and resources on the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women throughout the United Nations system, including the United Nations Secretariat, regional commissions, funds, programmes, specialized agencies and academic and research institutions.” The site goes on to list 44 U.N. entities in their Directory of U.N. Resources on Gender and Women’s Issues. The statement submitted on behalf of the global campaign for GEAR in January 2008 states, “The U.N., however, still lacks an effective mechanism to deliver on many of the essential commitments made.”

Efforts to establish the new women’s agency are part of the bigger picture of “drastic changes” in the way the U.N. approaches development. A 52-page report from November 2006, 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, was in New York at the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women.

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