Stephen Lewis: The UN has let down the world's women. Now let's put that right

Share
Related Topics

I have had I have had the privilege of working for 25 years internationally, including being Canada's UN representative in the 1980s. The most lamentable and heart-breaking dimension of multilateralism I have seen is the absence of any serious focus on gender throughout the UN system.

I can cite chapter and verse, but let me start by telling you that whether it is poverty alleviation, or HIV and Aids, or sexual violence and conflict, the whole panoply of discrimination visited on women around the world, particularly in developing countries, the UN's agencies and the Secretariat have been profoundly delinquent in their response.

For me, the struggle for gender equality has become the most important struggle on the planet; the continuing marginalisation of 52 per cent of the world's population is simply unacceptable. So we're now engaged in an effort to create a new international agency for women, a fascinating undertaking that I hope will engage Parliamentarians in the House of Commons and House of Lords because of the UK's extraordinary influence in the multilateral system.

Nothing approximates the possibility of finally having a vehicle that would give voice and resources and support to the struggles of women around the world. It was first suggested in the fall of 2006 and in September of last year, the General Assembly agreed that it should be part of an overall UN reform. My own feeling is that you can't delay a day. I turned on my computer this morning and saw that there was yet another heartbreaking report of sexual violence in the Congo, another episode of dementia and depravity that chills the blood.

Everyone knows what's happening in these areas about women's vulnerability but there is never a consistent voice to bring it to the attention of the world community, to continue to hammer it home, to demand action from government. So the emergence and creation of a women's agency I think would be a Godsend internationally and would overcome the record of the United Nations on gender.

Taken from an address by the Co-Director, AIDS-Free World, at a Parliamentary Event this week, speaking in support of VSO and ACTSA; www.aidsfreeworld.org. To support the campaign for a UN Women's Agency visit www.vso.org.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pillar 1, 2 & 3) Insurance

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pilla...

Manager - SAS - Data Warehouse - Banking

£350 - £365 per day: Orgtel: Manager, SAS, Data Warehouse, Banking, Bristol - ...

Web Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – Up to £43k

£35000 - £43000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Middle East crisis: Things have moved on – at least when I met bin Laden, I didn’t fear for my life

Robert Fisk
India's philosopher, environmental activist, author and eco feminist Vandana Shiva arrives to give a press conference focused on genetically modified seeds on October 10, 2012  

Meet Vandana Shiva: The deserving heir to Mahatma Ghandi's legacy

Peter Popham
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment