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Women Leadership Development Programme


The role of the United Nations in the world today is constantly challenged and questioned as a result of a rapidly developing global environment and emerging realities. The global shifts require an unprecedented agility of thought and practice at all levels within the UN system. Changes in many member countries of the UN are putting particular pressure on UN leaders to see, think, and act fundamentally differently to the past. This calls not only for dynamism in the type and quality of leadership in the UN System, but also for the UN System to think differently and adjust to the changing global architecture of increased gender equality and equity at the work place, and increasing the representation of women in key leadership and managerial positions within the UN System.

It has been observed that more women are entering the workforce on a worldwide basis, owing to the high rates of social returns attributable to women’s education and the gains made so far in advancing gender equality in the education sector.  Women’s entry in organizations and their career aspirations, leave them with the dichotomy of desires for success, performance and ambitions, yet sometimes, feelings of self-doubt, anxiety and inhibitions. The push and pull from home and work, and the compromises that women make to be fair to the two systems may lead to burnout and affect their emotions. Most often, women find it hard to find a conducive, inclusive, affirming and women friendly work environment which is supportive of their goals, objectives for success and their working styles.  Often, organizations with the traditional and patriarchal attitudes, conflict with women’s leadership roles. The societal culture and stereotyped gender roles along with the deep-rooted processes of socialization, affect women’s performance. Hence, present day women leaders struggle to find means and ways of merging and balancing their professional and personal roles and lives, and contributing effectively in successfully creating a complimentary and mutually supportive work environment. The UN system is not any different from other organizations in this regard.

Gender Equality and Equity within the UN System

To respond to the changing global architecture, the UN has taken deliberate efforts to increase the number of women in key leadership positions, including the posts of the Resident Coordinators, representatives of the Secretary General at the country level. Since the Beijing Platform for Action in 1995, the General Assembly has repeatedly urged the Secretariat and the United Nations system organizations to achieve 50/50 gender balance in managerial posts. The table below shows the history of UN resolutions adopted by the General Assembly with regard to promoting gender parity within the UN System.

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