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UN System Wide Action Plan for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-SWAP)

Upholding its outstanding performance in mainstreaming gender equality and empowering the women of the United Nations, ESCWA continues to be rated among the best performing entities, meeting or exceeding the requirements of the 17 indicators in the United Nations System-wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. This framework, known as the UN-SWAP 2.0, updated the first edition, UN-SWAP 1.0 covering the period 2012-2017, continues to focus on the capacity, readiness and accountability of the UN system to mainstream gender equality in its work. What is significant and new in the updated framework, is the emphasis on the actual results and impact of the UN-SWAP implementation on achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment and accelerating the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in our own organization.
Since its roll-out in 2012, ESCWA’s cumulative efforts in implementing the UN-SWAP are yielding increased organizational capacity and experience, as well as a significant progress in mainstreaming gender inside ESCWA and in its external work.
In a letter addressed to ESCWA, UN Women, the custodian of the UN-SWAP, applauded its achievements in implementing the UN-SWAP in 2018, particularly in assessing and building the capacity of staff and in advancing the implementation of the gender marker in its work. These two achievements capitalize and build on numerous previous results realized by ESCWA over the past seven years.
In 2017, ESCWA was deemed to be the part of the organization that achieved the most significant progress over five years. In 2012, ESCWA performance was classified as “meeting requirements” in only 21 per cent of the indicators, “approaching requirements” in 65 per cent of the indicators and “missing” in 14 per cent of the indicators. ESCWA was not exceeding performance in any of the 15 performance indicators.
Since then, ESCWA has enthusiastically developed plans and implemented several initiatives to gradually and systematically bridge the identified gaps and weakness. Key achievements include the revival of gender focal point network to mainstream gender in ESCWA divisions; regular and consistent assessment and staff capacity building in the field of gender equality and identify gaps; and revision of the ESCWA policy on project evaluation to incorporate the principles of equality and human rights in the evaluation criteria; developing an organizational policy on gender equality and women’s empowerment and a Human Resources Action plan towards parity to increase women’s representation for (2014-2018) and revising and updating it for (2019-2023). Accomplishments also include developing a financial tracking system to determine the funds spent on promoting gender equality in the region; setting a financial goal for implementing the organizational gender equality mandate; conducting a participatory audit at the ESCWA level; implementing flexible working arrangements; and establishing an award to commend staff efforts in improving gender equality and women’s empowerment. The end result: ESCWA exceeded requirements in 15 out the 17 performance indicators of UN-SWAP 2.0 in 2018.
Building on its successful experience in implementing the UN-SWAP and based on the willingness of Arab countries to scale up to their efforts to meet their commitments on gender equality including the achievement of SDG 5, ESCWA is leading a regional innovative initiative targeting public institutions. ESCWA, in consultation with national women’s machineries in the Arab region adapted the UN-SWAP and developed a tailored framework, “Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women at the level of the national institutions in the Arab region”, to mainstream gender in national institutions. The Action Plan has already been piloted in the Jordanian National Commission on Women.
ESCWA is continuously developing and conducting capacity-building and technical assistance programmes to support national women machineries to roll out and implement this Action Plan in national institutions in the Arab region.