Today UN Women and the European Union reaffirmed their strong commitment to work jointly towards gender equality and the empowerment of women. Witnessed by Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General and José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, the High Representative/ Vice President Catherine Ashton and Commissioner Andris Piebalgs signed a Memorandum of Understanding, to enhance EU – UN Women co-operation on policies and programmes to advance gender equality worldwide.
High Representative Catherine Ashton said: "Discrimination against women and girls remains the most pervasive and persistent form of inequality. Together with UN Women we will work to improve the role of women in political and economic decision-making. We will also fight impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence, ensure better protection of women and improve their access to justice. These are issues that need our full attention and this new partnership enhances our ability to work even harder to reach these goals."
EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs added: "As I am travelling around the world, I can see that women are the agents of change. There will be no human and economic development without a sound respect of women's rights and conditions. This is a fundamental part of the development policy that I wish to champion. I'm convinced that this partnership will take our collaboration with UN Women to a new level, ensuring more efficiency and better support to women all over the world."
UN Women Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director Michelle Bachelet said: "The full participation of women strengthens democracy, peace and sustainable development globally. By signing this strategic partnership, the European Union and UN Women reaffirms their strong commitment to gender equality and women's empowerment. This partnership builds on on-going collaboration in several areas of work. The EU is a very important partner to UN Women and the MoU will enhance our co-operation on policies and programmes which make a difference in the lives of millions of women and girls worldwide."
This strategic partnership focuses on areas of mutual concern in the context of EU internal and external policies on gender equality and in the context of the mandate and strategic plan of UN Women:
1) women's rights, gender justice, women's leadership and political participation;
2) women's access to economic empowerment and opportunities;
3) combatting sexual and gender based violence;
4) women, peace and security;
5) gender in humanitarian aid;
6) responsiveness of plans and budgets to gender equality.
The partnership also builds on previous and on-going collaboration between UN Women and the EU. For example, with support of the EU, UN Women supported a crisis centre providing assistance to victims of sexual violence in Mauritania, allowing access to psychological, care and legal advice services. In 2011, through a EU funded project, UN Women also provided support to women peace activists from countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus to ensure their participation in peace-building in the region. Technical advice was also provided and led to the adoption, in Georgia, of a National Action Plan to ensure women's participation in peace-building. Through global programmes on gender-responsive budgeting and aid effectiveness, gender-budget tracking led to the identification of gender gaps in budgets of sectoral ministries and plans, such as health, agriculture, infrastructure in various countries such as Cameroon and Peru and supported advocacy for corrective measures, including relevant legislation. The EU and UN Women are also working together towards Increasing Accountability in Financing for Gender Equality, through a Progamme, set up to help national governments; civil society and donors to improve resources and accountability on gender equality in 15 countries. A program also recently started on enhancing women's participation in peace-building and post-conflict planning in Liberia, Timor-Leste and Kosovo (more information – add link: http://www.unwomen.org/2012/02/un-women-and-undp-to-partner-with-eu-to-foster-womens-effective-participation-in-peacebuilding-and-post-conflict-recovery/)
The Brussels based United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe - UNRIC provides information on UN activities to the countries of the region. It also provides liaison with institutions of the European Union in the field of information. Its outreach activities extend to all segments of society and joint campaigns, projects and events are organized with partners including the EU, governments, the media, NGOs, schools and local authorities.
United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC Brussels)
Residence Palace, Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 155, Block C2,7th and 8th floor, Brussels 1040, Belgium
Tel.: +32 2 788 8484 / Fax: 32 2 788 8485