UN Women Definition and Programmatic Focus on ‘Approaches to Equity’

Poverty and Inequality

An abstract of UN Women’s definition and programmatic focus on approaches to equity.

In its second Annual Report, UN Women discusses “people-centered development” while emphasizing human rights as they pertain to women (Annual Report 5). The 2011 Report identifies barriers in decision-making, labor markets, financial services, education and gender-based violence with respect to development for women (Ibid).

Determinants & Manifestations

UN Women is concerned with gender discrimination in the economic, political, social and cultural spheres. UN Women addresses governments, civil society and the private sector to achieve women’s equality in the realms of poverty eradication, agriculture, food and nutrition, water, energy, health, employment and education. Women fare disproportionately worse than men in all these categories and experience disproportionate levels of suffering and poverty. Manifestations of gender-based bias in these areas also surfaces in disproportionate unemployment for women, vulnerability to food prices and the economy, violence and increased chances of sexual victimization in conflicts.

Characteristics of UN Women’s Approach

UN Women focuses on the following priority areas of intervention: increasing women’s leadership and participation, enhancing women’s economic empowerment, ending violence against women and girls, engaging women in peace and security responses and making plans and budgets gender-responsive. The thematic priority areas for UN Women are safe water and sanitation, food security and sustainable agriculture, energy access, efficiency and sustainability, sustainable cities, decent work in a green economy, health and education (Annual Report 13). The UN Women approach reinforces a holistic understanding that builds “equilibrium between present and future demands for economic progress across generations” (The Future Women Want 5).  In UN Women’s view, social protection programs and cash transfer programs, for the “poorest people”, in particular, should include a particular lens on women.

Target Demographic 

UN Women keeps women and girls at the forefront of their approach. The 2011 Annual Report suggests a focus on the least-developed countries (Annual Report 7).

Theory & Justification for the Equity Approach

As a UN agency, UN Women values the human rights framework but also recognizes that  countries have better growth and increased productivity when women are included.

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