Thank you Mr. President. I would also like to thank Executive Director Bachelet for her briefing and to congratulate UN Women for establishing its new Global Civil Society Advisory Group last week.
The United States endorses UN Women’s major goals, in particular UN Women’s commitment to promoting women’s economic and political empowerment. Speaking before the UN General Assembly last fall, President Obama challenged UN member states to “announce the steps we are taking to break down economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women in girls.” To meet this challenge, we are working to identify new steps the United States will take both domestically and internationally.
UN Women’s report on the implementation of its strategic plan in 2011 highlights measurable achievements in several key areas. UN Women has significantly exceeded its targets in several indicators relating to women’s leadership and political participation and ending violence against women and girls, and we applaud this success. We encourage UN Women to continue to ensure that its policies and programs are designed to protect women who are targeted with violence, and we particularly encourage UN Women to include those who are targeted because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Further, the growing problem of so-called corrective rape is an issue that demands attention and UN Women could make a significant difference by including a focus on this problem in its work on gender-based violence. We also welcome UN Women’s progress in the area of women, peace, and security and its deepened focus on women’s economic empowerment.
Going forward, we encourage UN Women to continue to build its capacity to coordinate the UN system’s efforts on behalf of women and girls. UN Women’s efforts to leverage the synergies between normative and operational issues are crucial in this context. The 30 new memoranda of understanding UN Women has negotiated with UN agencies are a positive step, and working effectively within the UN Country Teams and with the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinators will be critical to UN Women’s success. As UN Women moves forward with its Regional Architecture reforms, we would like to see priority placed on putting strong leaders in the field who are willing and able to coordinate well with UN and other relevant actors.
We note that progress against the Strategic Plan targets varies widely, although we are also mindful that predicting results, especially at this stage, will not be an exact science. To have the greatest impact, we encourage UN Women to adjust its strategies, as needed, to take into account unexpected developments on the ground and the experience UN Women gains through its programs and other activities.
As the report illustrates, UN Women is taking important steps to ensure it is a well managed and effective organization. We appreciate UN Women’s proposed amendments to its financial rules and regulations to implement the international financial standards (IPSAS). We look forward to the Board’s consideration of the proposed regulatory amendments this week. Transparency and accountability across the UN system remain top priorities for the United States. We encourage UN Women to follow the example of other UN entities, including the United Nations Development Programme and UNICEF, which are the leaders among UN agencies in striving for greater transparency and accountability. We appreciate the leadership UNICEF and UNDP senior management has provided to their organizations on the disclosure of their internal audit reports to member states and the public and, in particular, their commitment to achieve this goal by the end of 2012. We hope the Board will adopt a decision at its next meeting to simplify member states’ access to internal audit reports, as well as to provide similar access to key partners.
U.S. support for UN Women remains strong. We expect to increase our contribution to UN Women’s core budget this year. Last November in Busan, Secretary Clinton announced a new data-collection initiative called EDGE, or Evidence and Data for Gender Equality, to improve the availability and use of statistics that capture gender gaps in economic activity. The United States is pleased to be supporting EDGE, along with Canada and Australia, which UN Women and the UN Statistics Division are managing in close cooperation with international organizations and government statistical agencies. In the area of women’s leadership and political participation, the United States, through USAID, is supporting UN Women’s work with civil society organizations in Egypt to promote women’s leadership and political participation.
Mr. President, I would like to conclude by reaffirming the United States’ commitment to working with the other members of the Board and UN Women on efforts to advance women’s economic and political empowerment worldwide, and improve their protection from violence. The United States looks forward to contributing to a successful Board session.