A position paper advocating the development of a multilateral UN Agency for women was submitted to a UN panel last week. The position paper, entitled “Gender Equality Now or Never,” was written by Paula Donavan senior advisor on women’s and children’s issues in the office of Stephen Lewis, UN Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa.
In his initial introduction of the proposal at a UN press conference in July, Lewis stated that the new agency would not replace existing UN agencies, such as the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), addressing women’s issues but would combine these groups into a multilateral agency equipped to adequately address women’s issues worldwide.
“The point that UNIFEM doesn’t get much attention and doesn’t get much of a budget is indicative of the way women’s issues are treated throughout the international community and the United Nations. They are always the poorest, the least well resourced,” Donavan said in an interview with VOA news. According to Donavan, if gender discrimination is not battled through targeted programming “the entire human society suffers. It’s just illogical and crazy to think that we can continue to treat women as second class citizenry,” reports VOA news.
If approved, the proposal for a new UN agency for women will be on the UN’s agenda this September.