Endorsing the UN’s recommendation

When I listened to Stephen Lewis’ piece on the women of Africa that was part of Massey Lecture series on CBC’s Ideas I was moved to tears. It seems that others at the United Nations have also been moved and that Canadian women are behind this movement.

Women's Groups in Canada Applaud Call for New United Nations Agency on Women
Ottawa, November 17th 2006 -- Today, a wide range of women's groups in

Canada (see list below) endorsed the recommendation by a high level UN

panel to establish a new independent women-specific agency at the United

Nations. This and other recommendations on UN reform were released by

the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel for UN System-wide Coherence

last week.

The recommendations on women respond to severe criticism from Stephen

Lewis, UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, and women's

organizations from around the globe that the UN is sidelining women'

rights and gender equality goals, and undermining its own effectiveness

by not adequately addressing women's empowerment and human rights.

Groups in Canada commended the contribution of Robert Greenhill,

President of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), one

of 15 members of the High-Level Panel. With Greenhill's support, the

Reform Panel also proposed that a new Under-Secretary General should be

established to oversee the agency, and that sufficient resources should

be granted to it.

"The time is long overdue for a women-specific agency at the UN. Now is

the time to show commitment to the human rights of girls and women's

everywhere," said Prabha Khosla, coordinator of the Canadian Committee

on Women and UN Reform.

Women's groups say that the leadership of a new Under-Secretary General

will be essential to the success of a new agency as it will guarantee it

the appropriate influence and provide a voice for women at the UN

decision-making tables.  Groups also support the Panel's recommendation

for an open, transparent and global search for a candidate who has

substantive expertise in gender equality.

"It is now up to Canada and all member states at the United Nations to

adopt these recommendations during the 61st session of the General

Assembly and stick to a process and time frame for implementation,"

added Joanna Kerr, Executive Director, the Association for Women's

Rights in Development (AWID).

Canada must be a key player in ensuring a reasonable budget for the

agency.  The Panel did not recommend one and Canada and other countries

must work together to ensure that there is sufficient funding.  "Through

increasing our international development budget to 0.7% of GNP as we

have promised to do many times, Canada has a unique opportunity to take

leadership on women's equality," said Khosla.

The dual mandate of the new entity, which will include both policy and

country-level functions, will strengthen the effectiveness of the gender

mainstreaming work of other UN agencies, as well as advance women's

rights directly.  For this entity to function as a driving force

throughout the UN system, and for it to better address women's lives at

the country level, the Canadian Committee recommends that every UN

Country Team must include senior-level gender equality experts with

adequate resources and support who can lead the team's efforts to fulfil

and promote UN and government commitments to women's human rights.

A strong and well-resourced institutional accountability mechanism that

enables women's participation and addresses women's rights in the UN's

activities throughout the globe was one of the critical needs presented

to the Coherence Panel.

Groups noted, however, that the recommendations come at a difficult time

for women's groups in Canada. "The federal government has made very

different choices regarding women in Canada.  It has cut the operating

budget of Status of Women Canada, the lead agency for gender equality by

40% and prohibited groups from using federal funds to advocate for

gender equality goals," noted Charlotte Thibault with the Canadian

Feminist Alliance for International Action.


For more information, please contact:

Prabha Khosla, The Canadian Committee on Women and UN Reform 	Tel.:

(416) 925-7414

Charlotte Thibault, FAFIA

Tel.:	(514) 849-6957

Nancy Peckford, FAFIA

Cell.:	(613) 292-7941

The Canadian Committee on Women and UN Reform Action Canada for

Population and Development (ACPD) Association for Women's Rights in

Development (AWID Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies

(CAEFS) Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA)

Canadian Women's Health Network (CWHN) City for All Women Initiative

(CAWI) Gays Lesbians of African Descent Grassroots Organizations

Operating Together In Sisterhood Gender Equality Incorporated Harmony

House - Ottawa Indigenous Women's Network Metropolitan Action Committee

on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC) National Action

Committee on the Status of Women (NAC-CCA) North York Women's Centre

Older Women's Network Preston/Cherry Brook/Lake Loon/Westphal & Area

Chapter Congress of Black Women of Canada - Nova Scotia Rights &

Democracy Riverdale Immigrant Women's Centre -Toronto South Asian

Women's Centre - Toronto Sudbury Sexual Assault Crisis Centre (SSAC)

Temiksaming Native Women's Support Group The Women's Coordinating

Committee Chile-Canada - Toronto Toronto Women's Call to Action

Transition House Association of Nova Scotia Women and Environments

International Magazine -Editorial Board Women's Counselling Referral and

Education Centre Working Women Community Centre -Toronto Yellowknife

Women's Society Yukon Status of Women Council

NOTE: You can access The Canadian Committee on Women and the UN Reform

(Web site) at www.twca.ca

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