Focal Point for Women and Gender Focal Points

Focal Point for Women in the UN System

The Office of the Focal Point for Women in the UN System at UN Women is mandated to provide strategic and technical support to UN entities on issues related to gender parity and the creation of enabling environments in support of the Secretary-General’s System-wide Strategy on Gender Parity. The United Nations is requested to achieve gender parity through the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action as well as various UN General Assembly resolutions, such as A/RES/78/182, which calls upon all UN entities to collaborate with UN Women and Gender Focal Points.

Core functions include:

  • Support the United Nations’ concerted efforts to implement the Secretary-General’s System-wide Strategy on Gender Parity to achieve the goal of 50:50 gender balance by 2028.
  • Monitor and report on the status of women and men, and system-wide progress on gender parity, such as through preparing the Secretary-General’s report on the improvement in the status of women in the UN system and incorporating insights from the UN System-wide Dashboard on Gender Parity.
  • Lead, coordinate, and build capacities of the network of more than 500 UN Gender Focal Points to enhance parity and create enabling environments, together with the leadership of the UN entities.
  • Provide strategic, technical, and analytical support on gender parity and enabling working environments to UN entities, departments, offices, and units, as well as UN Country Teams.
  • Communicate and advocate for the improvement of the status of women and assist in policy formulation.

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Gender Focal Points in the UN system

The Network of UN Gender Focal Points (GFPs) is led and coordinated by the Office of the Focal Point for Women in the UN System (UN Women). There are currently more than 500 Gender Focal Points in the UN system, whose role is to advance parity and create enabling environments, together with their leadership.

Responsibilities and functions

The Secretary-General’s bulletin (ST/SGB/2023/3) outlines the functions and responsibilities of Gender Focal Points. Here are some key points:

  • Enhancing gender parity: The role of Gender Focal Points is to enhance gender parity and create enabling working environments within their respective entities. Gender Focal Points support the head of their entity in achieving gender balance.
  • Overall responsibility: The head of an entity bears the overall responsibility for achieving gender parity in the entity. This includes ensuring that the entity has a Gender Focal Point and at least one alternate.
  • Appointment criteria: Gender Focal Points are recommended to be appointed from among staff at the P4 level and above.
  • Time allocation: Approximately 20 per cent of their official work time is dedicated to Gender Focal Point duties.
  • Collaboration: Gender Focal Points collaborate with the head of the entity, human resources, senior management, and staff.
  • Monitoring and reporting: Gender Focal Points monitor and report on the progress and challenges related to gender balance goals within their entity.
  • Guidance and information: Gender Focal Points provide information and guidance to staff on addressing gender-based workplace concerns, including harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination, and abuse of power.
  • Access to essential information: Gender Focal Points have access to essential information, including statistics and policies related to gender balance.

By fulfilling their roles effectively, Gender Focal Points contribute to a more equitable and empowering UN system. In this regard, UN Women provides tailored, regular capacity building sessions, guidance, and practical resources.

Capacity building sessions provide guidance and updates on General Assembly mandates, organizational policies, and facilitate inter-agency knowledge sharing as well as networking opportunities.

Annual global meeting

UN Women convenes annually the Global Meeting for UN Gender Focal Points. This meeting provides a unique opportunity for Gender Focal Points across the UN system to accelerate parity efforts through reflection and peer-to-peer and inter-agency knowledge sharing.

Global meeting reports: 2023202220212020,  2019, 2018, 2017.