Written statement by Iceland at UN Women Executive Board Annual Meeting 2020
Mr President, Madame Executive Director,
First of all, we would like to applaud all UN Women’s management and staff for its’ tireless work in the last few months, defending the hard-earned progress made on gender equality and human rights of women and girls around the world in the last decades.
UN Women, the only UN agency with the mandate of gender equality and women’s empowerment, has acquired extensive knowledge through its 10 years of existence. We acknowledge that UN Women’s contribution has been critical in mainstreaming gender responsive measures in the COVID-19 response.
Women already bear the brunt of violence, war, conflicts, the climate crises and now the COVID-19 pandemic. This is not inevitable, and we should not accept this as a fact of life. The gendered impact of the current pandemic is clear, and it will exacerbate the existing economic and social inequalities. We must ensure that gender responsive measures are included in all response and recovery decisions.
UN Women’s triple mandate is more important than ever. Firstly, normative work on a global scale is essential in times of crisis like these, policies and legislation are needed to push gender equality forward. Secondly, UN Women’s regional and country offices have responded swiftly and adjusted programming to respond to new realities. Lastly, it is of utmost importance that gender responsive actions are successfully coordinated within the whole UN system in both immediate and long-term responses.
We welcome that UN Women is represented in the steering committee of the Multi Partner Trust Fund for its coordination role. We encourage UN Women to further strengthen its collaboration and presence within the humanitarian sector; to work closely with OCHA, WFP and to play an increased role within the IASC.
We appreciate the update on the implementation of UN Women’s engagement with the repositioning of the UNDS. We encourage UN Women to grasp the opportunities of the reform with enhanced joint programming and enhanced coordination to strengthen and optimize its operational activities and field presence. It is concerning that UN Women is not sitting at the table at all humanitarian cluster country teams.
It is noteworthy that on the ten-year anniversary of UN Women, the initial 500-million-dollar financial goal has finally been achieved. There is a dire need to increase regular resources and we encourage UN Women to explore all possible means to do so. Strong leadership and coordination are the key to successful resource mobilization. Competition between country offices for funding should be avoided. We would like to use this opportunity to welcome the new Chief of Resource Mobilization and Donor Relations, Ms Lisa Doughten. We are certain that with her extensive experience she will be able to lead UN Women to reach even greater financial goals. In that respect we would like to reiterate the role that National Committees can play in increasing and diversifying funding through individual giving. It is encouraging to see the stable increase of funding from national committees and we urge UN Women to continue to invest in the national committees.
Finally, we commend UN Women for exploring further collaboration with IFI’s and we expect UN Women to show its added value with evidence mapping of the COVID-19 responses.
The gender anniversary year of 2020 has taken a sudden and different turn than we anticipated. We are not heading to Paris this year for the launch of the Generation Equality Forum as planned but the unexpected turn of events has shown the urgent need to speed up progress towards gender equality. As previously expressed, Iceland stands by ready to actively participate in the Action Coalitions.
Let me conclude by saying that even though we are facing great challenges during these difficult times, with disruptive economic and social consequences hitting women the hardest, the world cannot ignore the pandemic of violence against women – The statistics are too strong. We must use this momentum to push even harder than before and make this the momentum where gender equality and women’s empowerment receives the attention and funding it deserves and needs.
I thank you, Mr President.