awid121Advocates are hopeful that the consensus by the General Assembly in September 2008 to move forward on the creation of a stronger women’s entity at the United Nations could result in a new structure taking shape as early as next year.

Excitement over this prospect continues to fuel the Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR) Campaign, as GEAR campaigners in all regions and in New York work to maintain the momentum of the campaign. Women’s groups spanning all regions began to call for the creation of a strong, fully resourced women’s entity in 2007. A few months later at the 52nd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the GEAR Campaign was formally launched in February 2008.

GEAR advocates are now busy providing inputs on the structure of the new women’s entity (i.e. governance, field presence, funding and staffing), which promises to deliver real results for women on the ground.  In addition, the GEAR Campaign is collaborating with a UN working group to make sure that its demands are taken into consideration as the details of the new entity are developed. Once the working group’s paper is finalized by the UN Deputy Secretary General in the upcoming weeks, governments will discuss these options.

The upcoming CSW (CSW-53) from March 2-13 in New York is an important opportunity for GEAR advocates to lobby governments for their support, and to agree on a single institutional model. The GEAR Campaign is currently developing its advocacy strategies for the CSW, with the aim of securing support for the new entity.

In addition to these developments, further support and exposure for the campaign was generated in November when WEDO, as co-facilitator of the GEAR Campaign, along with other GEAR global and regional focal points joined over 1,500 women’s rights leaders and activists from around the world at the Association of Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) International Forum in South Africa.

Campaign information was circulated in venues throughout the forum and a designated “Campaign Corner” helped to create a GEAR hub where women could learn more about the campaign and get involved. An interactive poster asking women “What do you want from the UN?” generated many enthusiastic responses, which are being shared within the network and used to inform our advocacy.

A GEAR Campaign workshop “The UN as a legitimate space for women’s organizing: Successes and Challenges – Past and Future” encouraged activists to consider the UN as an important venue for women’s advocacy, including stronger gender architecture, greater accountability and implementation of gender-related commitments. Stay tuned for more updates on the GEAR Campaign!

Written by Colette Tamko, Gender and Governance Program Coordinator

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