Feminist Leadership at the UN

On March 14th, IPI together with the International Center for the Research on Women, the Feminist U.N Campaign and Save The Children cohosted a policy forum to discuss Feminist Leadership at the UN.

Secretary-General António Guterres took office in January 2017 amid unprecedented public and member state demand for feminist leadership of the United Nations. Member states coalesced in platforms advocating for such shifts in leadership, and the Feminist UN Campaign emerged from that political moment. Now, two years into the SG’s term, the 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) presents an ideal background for member states, civil society and the Executive Office of the Secretary-General to be in conversation about the current state of feminist leadership and progress advancing gender equality at the UN.

The Women, Peace and Security lens provides a useful case study for measuring progress in this regard. Despite two decades of women, peace and security policy development and commitments, women’s participation at “all levels of decision-making” lags due to structural barriers, lack of access to political arenas, and even threats to women who attempt to participate in these processes. In efforts to build and sustain peace, there remains widespread neglect of local-level women peace builders’ expertise, and formal peacemaking efforts continue to be resistant to women’s meaningful participation and rights implementation. However, member states and the UN have taken steps to address barriers to women’s leadership, such as in highlighting national-level feminist policies and launching a UN-wide gender parity strategy. The election of a new Secretary-General of the United Nations in 2016 provided an important opportunity to ensure that the United Nations implements an agenda that puts gender equality and women’s rights at the heart of everything it does.

This event amplified perspectives on progress as well as remaining challenges to removing barriers to gender equality and feminist leadership at national, regional and global levels, including discussion with experts from member states, UN leadership, and civil society.

Opening remarks:
Dr. Adam Lupel, Vice President, International Peace Institute
Ms. Katja Pehrman, Senior Advisor, UN Women

Ms. Ulrika Grandin, Senior Advisor, Feminist Foreign Policy, Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Ms. Nahla Valji, Senior Gender Adviser, Executive Office of the Secretary-General
Ms. Lyric Thompson, Director of Policy and Advocacy, ICRW, and author of Feminist UN Campaign report card
Ms. Nora O’Connell, Associate Vice President, Public Policy and Advocacy, Save The Children

Dr. Sarah Taylor, Senior Fellow, International Peace Institute