ICRW releases six recommendations for a more feminist United Nations

Washington D.C. (January 11, 2016) – ICRW released a set of recommendations for the new United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, which together form a concrete pathway for the new Secretary-General to actively champion women’s rights with world leaders and within the UN system.

The UN has a proud history of being the site for the negotiation of visionary and rights-based global normative agreements that have fueled groundbreaking changes in countries worldwide, including the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action, and Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security. Yet the institution that has catalyzed and facilitated these breakthrough processes to secure visionary commitments to gender equality has consistently failed to implement these commitments in its internal policies and practices, as well as in programs that it advocates for and supports.

Following the quick selection of Antonio Guterres as the world’s next Secretary-General, these recommendations present an agenda for actions that could be taken by the new Secretary-General in his first hundred days to advance this vision and in response to the widespread and unprecedented calls for female and feminist leadership of the United Nations.

As its highest officer, the Secretary-General must personify this commitment by fully embracing gender equality and the human rights of women and girls, taking immediate and visible actions to ensure more equal representation of and by people of all genders throughout the system itself and advancing those rights in the policies and practices that it upholds.

The following recommendations were developed in collaboration with a number of leading feminist activists, philanthropists, UN insiders and former UN officials:

  • Articulate and begin to implement a feminist agenda for the UN.
  • Ensure feminist implementation and accountability for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Finance for gender equality.
  • Utilize feminist leadership.
  • Enable a feminist transformation for the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and UN Women.
  • Promote the freedom of information throughout the UN system.

“These recommendations chart a road map for Secretary-General Guterres to embrace the kind of bold and transformative agenda that is both urgently needed and long overdue,” said Lyric Thompson, Director of Policy and Advocacy at ICRW. “Mr. Guterres has rightly embraced parity in the UN’s top posts as a key indicator of progress against which he intends to be measured by the end of his term. But he must also articulate and adopt a comprehensive women’s rights agenda that takes on difficult and politicized issues and ushers in a new standard reflecting the UN’s own commitments to women’s rights as human rights.”

The recommendations, including concrete actions for each recommendation, can be found here.

A longer paper, providing more detail and background on the recommendations, can be found here.

Mission Statement:

ICRW is the premier applied research institute focused on women and girls. In 2016, ICRW merged with the U.S. research organization Re:Gender (formerly the National Council for Research on Women) to create a global research platform.Headquartered in Washington, DC, with regional offices in India and Uganda, ICRW provides research and analysis to inform programs and policies that promote gender equality and help alleviate poverty.