Last week, Henrietta H. Fore opened the February session of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Board with a call to action: “We cannot achieve a sustainable tomorrow if we fail to serve the needs of children and young people today.”
As the brand new government director of UNICEF, one of many largest and highest profile businesses of the United Nations (UN) system, Fore holds immense sway over insurance policies and actions that may have an effect on women worldwide. She takes the helm at a time of worldwide tumult marked by a world order underneath rising pressure, threats to worldwide solidarity and help, growing assaults on human rights and gender equality, and new and ongoing conflicts and humanitarian crises—all of which pose threats to the world’s youngsters, notably women.
In this difficult setting, robust management of the UN group charged with selling the human rights and well-being of each youngster is especially very important. Fore should take this chance to work towards a world the place each woman is wholesome, educated, and has the facility to make her personal selections about her life and future.
As she steps into her position, the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) presents 5 priorities for Fore’s first time period.
1. Invest in human rights-based approaches and prioritize the human rights and wishes of women.
Though the Convention on the Rights of the Child is probably the most extensively accepted human rights treaty—solely the US has not ratified it—younger individuals and youngsters, particularly women, are too not often revered as people with rights and authority over their very own our bodies and lives. Policies and packages that put women’ human rights on the middle, encourage an intersectional strategy, and construct women’ capability to make unbiased selections all through their lives (and particularly as they transition to maturity) are the simplest in assembly women’ wants and making certain that they will attain their full potential.
As acknowledged in UNICEF’s lately accepted strategic plan, human rights must be the inspiration for all the group’s work. Furthermore, the brand new plan’s guideline of accelerating motion for probably the most marginalized youngsters have to be utilized to adolescent women who expertise discrimination, bullying, and violence due to their sexual orientation, gender id, ethnicity, incapacity, poverty, migration standing, or different standing.
Fore must be a vocal champion for the human rights of all youngsters, notably women and different marginalized youngsters, and guarantee UNICEF’s packages, studies, and public statements mirror its dedication to human rights-based approaches and non-discrimination.
2. Champion complete sexuality schooling as a crucial element of attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The just lately launched international guidelines on sexuality education, endorsed by UNICEF and a number of different UN businesses, present an essential platform for making certain that each one youngsters and adolescents have entry to evidence-based, gender-responsive complete sexuality schooling globally. As the brand new tips emphasize, complete sexuality schooling not solely equips youngsters and adolescents with the knowledge they want to perceive their our bodies and extra safely navigate interpersonal and sexual relationships, it’s a essential device for difficult and altering gender norms, and equalizing energy dynamics inside relationships. By serving to nations implement the rules, UNICEF may also assist them obtain essential elements of the SDG Agenda, together with objectives on schooling (Goal 4), gender equality (Goal 5), and health (Goal 3).
Fore ought to turn into a number one advocate for complete sexuality schooling and make the case, publicly and privately, for its position in contributing to women’ empowerment, wholesome lives, and autonomy.
three. Invest in packages to fight baby, early, and compelled marriage, and help already married adolescents.
Though charges of kid, early, and compelled marriage have been declining globally over the previous three many years, the sheer variety of women impacted by the follow is rising as populations improve. In addition, as UNICEF’s personal knowledge exhibits, a whole lot of millions of girls are married already and in want of providers and help to guarantee their security, shield their health, full their schooling, and understand their rights. UNICEF has an important and distinctive position to play in each stopping new marriages and supporting already married women.
This work have to be holistic in nature, tailor-made to particular contexts, and deal with the basis causes of kid, early and compelled marriage, which UNICEF has correctly identified as gender inequality. UNICEF ought to prioritize work with native civil society organizations, which have earned the belief of their communities and perceive the drivers of the follow, in addition to the wants of married adolescents.
Fore ought to be sure that ending youngster, early, and compelled marriage stays core to UNICEF’s work and improve consideration to and funding of programming for already married adolescents.
four. Continue and improve multisectoral partnerships, together with with women themselves.
While ending youngster, early, and compelled marriage and selling women’ human rights is essential to UNICEF’s mission, UNICEF alone can’t obtain these objectives. Programs like these between UNICEF and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to finish baby, early, and compelled marriage, and feminine genital mutilation present clear examples of how to deliver collectively a number of actors to improve consideration and motion on seemingly intractable social issues. Similarly, partnerships with native civil society organizations and women themselves to develop and implement holistic, rights-based packages are far simpler than these carried out by worldwide organizations alone. These kinds of holistic packages, which make sure the experience of a number of sectors and actors are introduced to bear, shall be important to attaining the SDGs.
Fore ought to commit to creating robust alliances with civil society teams, particularly youth- and girl-led organizations, throughout the UN system, together with with different businesses, and with Member States.
5. Champion the UN system and its values.
As President Trump and his administration query the significance of multilateralism, thwart the norms of diplomacy, and threaten to intestine improvement help and UN funding, champions for multilateralism, diplomacy, improvement help, and humanitarian help should proudly and forcefully rise up and converse out.
As an American, former Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and Director of United States Foreign Assistance, Fore has a singular understanding of the significance of multilateralism and the position of worldwide improvement help in serving to to enhance the lives of youngsters around the globe. As such, Fore has a duty to converse up on the significance of the UN, and to maintain the US and different governments accountable to their commitments.
Fore ought to be a champion not simply for youngsters or UNICEF, however the UN system as an entire.
For women across the globe, a UNICEF Executive Director who prioritizes their wants, health, rights, and autonomy is significant. Fore should step into her position as a pacesetter for women and make sure that applicable assets are allotted to UNICEF as an entire and packages that work for women.
We name on Fore to be a champion for women—in all their variety, via all of their challenges, and for the promise that every woman’s life holds.
Photo: Violaine Martin / UN Geneva