Posted on | December 6, 2011 by Wendy Wright |
“UN Women is in trouble,” reports Barbara Crossette in The Nation.
Her article “UN Women Limps Toward Its First Anniversary” details how the agency is short on money and respect, and big on territorial in-fighting.
The failure exposes the blind-side of ideological feminists who insist on preferential treatment as they demand equal footing. Oblivious to the dire financial straits plaguing countries that dominate world headlines, the lack of funding for this new agency is blamed on “miserly” nations. Oblivious to human nature, lackluster and competing employees in the previous departments were expected to excel and get along. Other UN leaders were expected to give a hand-up to this agency dedicated to the proposition that women can do it all.
As Crossette puts it:
“The two crippling factors getting in the way of this important new agency are largely beyond its control: miserly financial contributions from nations on which UN Women’s operating expenses were designed to depend, and some petty turf games inside the UN system. These internal jealousies are compounded by the tepid support bordering on neglect among some of the organization’s highest officials, according to people who have followed very closely the struggles of UN Women in its inaugural year.”
UN Women consolidated four existing UN departments for women into one high-level agency with a high-profile leader, former president of Chile Michelle Bachelet. Countries were expected to voluntarily fund the new agency that gave itself a much higher budget ($500 million) than the combined budgets of the four departments.
By the end of UN Women’s first year, the pledges totaled $131.4 million. Only $58.2 million was actually given.
Advocates say this shows a lack of support and an unwillingness for “a powerful women’s agency to succeed.” “[R]ivalries, jealousy, fear” that UN Women will be more popular or influential within the UN system is the reason given for UN leaders not pulling strings for UN Women to avoid the bureaucratic process to become an official co-sponsoring agency of UNAIDS.
Paula Donovan, a co-director of AIDS-Free World (a group that fights for LGBT rights) and advocate for the creation of a high-level stand-alone agency for women, complains that other leaders are not spending time and resources to do UN Women’s job.
“The heads of agencies of the UN, and really the secretary-general and the UN secretariat should have made this the big cause,” she said. “All the heads of agencies should have been pounding the pavement, going with Michelle Bachelet to some of those fundraising meetings, saying that in order for UNICEF to do its job well UN Women will have to be up and funded. For UNDP, the same thing. But that’s not happening. No one inside the UN is taking the big view of what’s best for women.”
Crossette speculates that Michelle Bachelet may move on. She could return to Chile to run for president again in 2013.
“Should she decide to leave UN Women, it might never recover from the loss,” writes Crossette.