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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Philippine Statement
Ms. Marie Yvette Banzon
Third Secretary, Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the UN

on the organizational assessment of UNIFEM
Joint UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board Session
27 January 2006

Mr. President,

Let me first congratulate you and the new members of the bureau upon your election. We likewise thank you and the Board for allowing observers to share their views on this important item.

At the 60th session of the General Assembly, the Philippines co-sponsored the resolution on the UNIFEM which was so ably facilitated by Jordan because of its firm belief in the importance of UNIFEM’s role in complementing and supporting national efforts towards gender equality and development, as well as in inspiring practices aligned with international standards and strategies for gender promotion. We regard UNIFEM as the operational arm—or if you will, the “grassroots arm” of the UN’s gender architecture that goes out into the field and collaborates with governments, civil society networks and other international development institutions in order to help ensure that women’s status in society is at a level that enables them to participate meaningfully in development.

Turning now to the advisory panel’s assessment: Indeed, as the international community conceived of many excellent coordination strategies to step up development, gender equality and sustainable peace, the mandates and responsibilities of many agencies, not excluding the UNIFEM, have grown. This, coupled with the intricate network of expanding coordination of the work of many agencies and divisions of the UN, warrant a timely evaluation of the agencies, including UNIFEM, in order to remain effective and efficient.

In general, the Philippines concurs with the advisory panel’s assessment relating to the structure, autonomy, status and role of the UNIFEM, including its emphasis on the need for UNIFEM’s Multi-Year Funding Framework to be provided adequate resources.

On its structure, we support the idea of strengthening UNIFEM’s capacities and country presence in a cost-effective manner. National development and gender institutions would benefit from direct coordination to utilize UNIFEM’s expertise in policy development and project implementation. UNIFEM’s regional presence is particularly valuable in addressing intersecting gender and development needs and issues of neighboring countries.

On its autonomy, we believe that UNIFEM plays a distinctive role in the development process. Its comparative advantage imbues an expertise to the UN development framework, particularly for operations on the ground. This expertise should remain accessible, especially as networks of development efforts expand. We therefore support retaining UNIFEM’s autonomy and at the same time strengthening its relations with the UNDP and the UN country offices to ensure adequate gender programming in UN country programs and to clarify responsibilities among UN development agents. Relatedly, UNIFEM’s unique function and comparative advantage within the UN gender architecture needs to be given more attention. UNIFEM’s “real-world” experience would contribute significantly to making the gender agenda of the UN more attuned to real needs. UNIFEM’s vast network of key gender constituencies, both governmental and non-governmental are likewise of great value in reaching out to implement gender strategies and disseminate gains in this area.

On its status, we believe in the importance of allowing UNIFEM to contribute to high-level decision-making processes. We note the important role of the UNIFEM as a channel linking the “ivory towers” of UN decision-making and the concrete UN efforts on the ground.

We would also like to thank the evaluation team and the UNDP Evaluation Office for its assessment of the gender work in the UNDP. We are confident that UNIFEM’s expertise, knowledge and networks can be fully harnessed in order to help respond to the four key challenges that were presented by Ms. Menon. We are likewise encouraged by the responses based on the Gender Action Plan for 2006-2007. We will closely follow progress in this regard and remain fully engaged in the gender mainstreaming efforts within the UN development framework.

Thank you.

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