The United Nations has appointed former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to pioneer a new United Nations women’s agency.
The UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) is a body comprised of 4 previous entities: the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women (OSAGI), the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW). Bachelet will head UN Women in a new Under-Secretary-General position.
A pediatrician, epidemiologist, former Minister of Defense and Minister of Health, and Chile’s first female president, Bachelet has long championed women’s issues. She emphasized gender equality during her presidency and worked closely with the United Nations Development Fund for Women to promote the needs of Haitian women during the recent earthquake.
UN Women aims to support inter-governmental bodies in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms; help Member States implement these standards; and hold the UN system accountable for its commitments on gender equality. The new entity, which will begin operations on January 1, 2011, was allocated a minimum of 500 million dollars a year; a budget twice the size of the 4 previous agencies combined.
In announcing Bachelet’s appointment, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated “Ms. Bachelet brings to this critical position a history of dynamic global leadership, highly honed political skills and (an) uncommon ability to create consensus and focus among UN agencies and many partners in both the public and private sector.”
United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton stated: "...the needs of women and marginalized populations have topped her list of priorities. She has broken barriers for women in Chile and throughout the region, and I am inspired by her passion, her expertise, and her courage to speak out on difficult issues. These are the indispensible qualities that make her an excellent choice to lead UN Women."
The issues to be addressed by UN Women include women’s political and economic empowerment, violence against women, women’s health, women refugees and internally displaced persons, women with disabilities, and women in conflict and post-conflict settings.
"President Bachelet," says Secretary Clinton, "is the ideal person to launch this important new agency that will help millions of people around the world improve their lives."