We strongly support the commitment to reform the organization’s systemic failure in addressing the gender gap. We believe that any corrective measure which simply aims at statistics without addressing the compounded elements which created the gender gap in the field in the first place would have unintended and disturbing consequences.
The gender gap in the field developed from a combination of systemic, contrived and classic causes which accumulated over the years: global and organizational cultures, societal beliefs, education and occupational trends, the characteristic of the field work and the job mix, misconduct compounded by the lack of adequate accountability mechanisms, weaknesses in policies with respect to human resources management, health and wellbeing, safety and security, work/life balance, and conditions of service that are less attractive and less retentive.
As many of the classic causes have changed over recent years, we believe that an objective and reasonable approach to solving the gender gap has to first and foremost, focus on removing systemic weaknesses and discriminatory practices while promoting retention. We are alarmed by the use of easy shortcuts that focus purely on statistics as they offset one problem by many others including the possible contravention with the UN Charter such as in gender-based restrictive recruitment or prioritizing gender over merit and performance.
We shall pursue feasible corrective measures which are all-embracing and principled in fairness and equity. We have prepared, short, medium and long term, field-oriented gender balance proposals which are practical, in line with the UN Charter and safe to staff:
- Create/reinforce the function of a Gender Advisor in field missions and ensure a clear and acceptable gender policy exists, especially focusing on local aspects of retention, such as safety and security, health services and UN camps living conditions;
- Run a gender exchange mobility exercise between departments/offices/entities of the Secretariat where the gender imbalance in one is reversed in the other;
- Galvanize existing work/life balance policies including flexible working arrangements with due considerations to family circumstances;
- Reinforce accountability in areas of sexual harassment, abuse of authority and retaliation against whistleblowers and more effective mechanisms of the internal justice system;
- Inject gender parity at the lower ranks of the scale through a thorough outreach campaign in schools and universities from diverse cultures seeking qualified individuals at a young age;
- Create modalities for equitable career development and progression across the spectrum to sustain the gender balance through the higher ranks of the scale;
- Devise non-subjective and gender-neutral blind assessments to be used for the Comparative Review Process in downsizing missions and carried out by a third party;
- Work on enhanced family-oriented conditions of service such as parental and family leave.