UN Women is the United Nations agency for the empowerment of women. Gender equality is a human right, and empowering women strengthens the economy and raises productivity. Nevertheless, inequalities between the sexes remain deeply rooted in every society. Switzerland supported the creation of UN Women in 2010, and has been strongly engaged in the agency's activities ever since.
Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women – UN Women
Gender equality is a fundamental human right, and investing in gender equality is vital for reducing poverty, achieving inclusive economic growth as well as sustainable development. The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) focuses on this issue.
Switzerland is committed to ensuring that UN Women is not only active in drawing up international standards on gender equality and promoting women, but also operational in developing countries.
Despite significant progress at the legislative level, gender equality is far from being assured. Women are still under-represented in political and economic decision-making processes. They are often denied access to decent work, are affected by gender segregation in the labour market and gender pay gaps. Globally, one in five women suffers acts of violence and discrimination.
UN Women's outcomes
In its Strategic Plan 2018-2021, UN Women contributes to four interdependent and interrelated outcomes:
- Women lead and participate in governance systems on the basis of equality and benefit from them equally.
- Women have income security, decent work and are economically autonomous.
- All women and girls live a life free from all forms of violence.
- Women and girls contribute to and have greater influence in building sustainable peace and resilience, and benefit in equal measure as men from natural disaster prevention as well as from humanitarian action.
UN Women has made a significant contribution to improving the legislative framework of gender equality and the empowerment of women. As part of its Strategic Plan 2014-2017, UN Women contributed to the achievement of the following results:
Leadership and participation
Laws have been adopted or amended to strengthen women’s rights in over 60 countries with a combined female population of almost 1.6 billion. In Côte d’Ivoire, for example, UN Women contributed to the fact that the new constitution takes into account the different social and economic circumstances of men and women.
Promoting economic autonomy
Nine countries, with a combined female population of 168 million, have adopted policy frameworks to foster the economic empowerment of women with the support of UN Women, including South Africa, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sri Lanka.
Eradication of violence against women and girls
With the support of UN Women, 24 countries, with a combined female population of 1.05 billion, strengthened their legislation to combat violence against women and girls, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Georgia, Honduras, Serbia and Tunisia.
Switzerland has supported UN Women since its foundation. Improving gender equality and strengthening the rights of women and girls is one of the seven strategic objectives of the Dispatch on Switzerland’s International Cooperation 2017–2020. The FDFA’s Strategy on Gender Equality and Women’s Rights highlights the importance of gender equality as a human right, as a force for peace and security and as a contribution to sustainable development. UN Women’s mandate contributes to the achievement of these strategic objectives.
Switzerland’s objectives in relation to UN Women are the following:
- To ensure income security, decent work, economic autonomy and a life free from all forms of violence for women;
- To strengthen strategic partnerships between UN Women and international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and other regional development banks;
- To ensure development results are sustainable and visible thanks to a professional evaluation function, greater financial sustainability and gender parity amongst staff;
- To improve the coherence of the UN system and ensure progress in the UN reform through closer cooperation among UN agencies.
As part of the regular monitoring of compliance activities, Switzerland will pay close attention to ensuring UN Women rigorously implements its zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment and abuse.
Switzerland will make a basic contribution of CHF 48 million for the period 2018–20, which equates to funding of CHF 16 million a year. Switzerland also supports specific UN Women projects at country level. Switzerland is working, for example, together with UN Women on a project in the South Caucasus and is contributing to the achievement of the following three objectives:
- Improving access for women to the job market;
- Amending the necessary legal bases to enable women to participate in the economy on an equal basis;
- Strengthening governments and public services to facilitate implementation of their own programmes in the area of gender equality.
As a member state and a strategic donor, Switzerland plays an active role in the monitoring and evaluation of the operational and financial accountability of UN Women. Moreover, through its involvement in the organisation’s Executive Board, Switzerland maintains regular dialogue with UN Women at various management levels.
Switzerland's engagement in UN Women contributes to creating stable societies and a secure international environment in the long term. As a strongly globalised and economically interconnected country, Switzerland relies on such international stability for its own security and well-being. UN Women is an important multilateral partner for Switzerland in respect of its international responsibilities and its objectives in the area of gender equality. Through its participation in UN Women, Switzerland brings the approaches and objectives of the FDFA Strategy on Gender Equality and Women's Rights to the UN agency and can work to strengthen the legal dimension of gender equality worldwide.