THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index

A blueprint for UN women
May 04, 2011

Download this document
- Acrobat PDF version (4.12MB)
If you do not have the free Acrobat reader on your computer, download it from the Adobe website by clicking here.

Executive Summary

The foundation of UN Women provides a historic opportunity to transform the lives of women and girls. To deliver results, UN Women must target the most urgent issues for women and absorb the lessons of the past. As it becomes operational, UN Women should build these priorities and new approach into its structures and systems. This report focuses on the views of 100 selected civil society organisations (CSOs) working on women's issues on the ground. It aims to outline the key priorities for UN Women and to propose how the agency should proceed to deliver tangible progress at country level.

What should UN Women focus on?

The overwhelming priority that UN Women must address is violence against women (VAW): 99% of respondents said urgent action is needed on this issue and 72% selected it as a top priority for UN Women. Women in all regions suffer multiple forms of violence and 10% of respondents said it is increasing in their countries. All forms of violence against women must be eradicated. But other issues are also important and these are linked. The choice of priorities indicates fundamental gaps regarding the implementation of women's rights at country level. Next to the priority for UN Women, there is a second tier of three issues selected as key priorities. These are women's access to decision-making (42%), access to reliable justice systems (41%) and economic empowerment (41%). A clear overall message from the survey was that there is an urgent need to raise women's awareness of their rights.

Who should UN Women focus on?

We asked CSOs for their view on which women need help most urgently and 84% said rural women are the group in greatest need. UN Women should make rural women a priority because they have fewest resources and are least aware of their rights. Our survey found disabled women (61%) and uneducated women (61%) also need urgent attention. The needs of these groups intersect but UN Women should not take a 'one size fits all approach' but tailor specific interventions to target individual groups.

How should UN Women operate at country level?

UN Women must be in touch with the needs of women at grassroots. The survey revealed a perception among 30% of CSOs that UN agencies lack knowledge of the daily realities of women on the ground and are not visible to the groups striving for the same goals. There is a strong wish among CSOs to collaborate with the UN as genuine partners: 94% of respondents said they want to work in partnership with UN Women. CSOs have clear ideas as to how this partnership might work: they want UN Women to call on their expert knowledge and to use its access to governments to open up spaces for them to participate in decision-making at national level. Many support UN Women's collaboration with governments: 66% of respondents want UN Women to work with governments but they want it to strive for more independence than UN agencies in the past: more than a quarter (28%) of CSOs said the UN is too close to national governments and many felt this close relationship is hindering progress.

Download full document

Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.