Monocolumn: UN Women – Catchy Name, Shame about the budget

The UN’s new agency – UN Women – is slowly cranking into gear. But while it has a dynamic leader, a shiny new logo – a pictorial blend of a female gender symbol and the UN’s global map – and a launch party scheduled for later this month, it still lacks proper funding.

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Catch up with previous editions here.

The UN’s new agency – UN Women – is slowly cranking into gear. But while it has a dynamic leader, a shiny new logo – a pictorial blend of a female gender symbol and the UN’s global map – and a launch party scheduled for later this month, it still lacks proper funding.

There’s a lot of hope and quite a bit of fanfare surrounding this mission. It is widely agreed by UN member countries that the organisation has done little for women and gender equality in the developing world, and that a high-profile agency with real clout and global impact is long overdue.

UN Women aims to help formulate new policies and global standards on equality and women’s rights and to monitor and support member countries in their efforts to meet those standards. 

A lot of thought has gone into the image of the new agency, which brings together four smaller units – UNIFEM, CEDAW, INSTRAW, OSAGI – all of which have been targeting women’s issues for years but are not widely known.

The UN has broken from its tradition of naming organisations with acronyms. Technically this is the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. “UN Women”, however, states its purpose much more powerfully, and will probably register with more people than “UNEGEEW”.

The head of this new entity, former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, is widely respected in the international community and has the rank of under-secretary general, meaning she will have a seat at the highest UN tables.

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