JIU review of UN-SWAP first phase of implementation (2012-2017)

The System-wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-SWAP) was designed as an accountability framework to measure, monitor and drive progress towards a common set of 15 performance indicators to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women. It operationalizes the System-wide Policy on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women endorsed in 2006 by the United Nations Chief Executives Board (CEB). The progress achieved against the performance indicators through the implementation of the programme is considerable during the first phase of implementation (2012-2917).

The assessment of the JIU’s inspectors is that UN-SWAP is a useful framework and a credible benchmark towards gender mainstreaming. Since UN-SWAP is based on self-assessment and self-reporting by participating entities, quality assurance mechanisms need to be effective and regularly reviewed by the 66 reporting entities. The endorsement of the action plan by the CEB provided system-wide leadership commitment to implement the policy and is a cornerstone of success for the programme. The responsibility of executive leaders to create an enabling environment is a key factor in ensuring the effective implementation of the plan and of gender-related components of corporate policies.

UN-SWAP provides a truly unique system-wide model for a well-elaborated framework of performance indicators for monitoring of progress on gender mainstreaming in a systematic and harmonized manner. However, the current system-wide reporting mechanism to the Economic and Social Council can be enhanced by presenting both aggregated and disaggregated figures for individual entities in order to increase accountability, and the role of governing bodies could be strengthened through increased attention to the annual letter addressed by UN-Women to the executive management of the reporting entities.

As per its mandate, UN-Women has been the lead agency for coordinating and facilitating the design, development and implementation of the programme. Existing inter-agency networks (evaluation, audit, strategic planning, human resources, etc.) have been leveraged to support the development and the implementation of the framework. UN-SWAP is seen as a system-wide achievement as most of the reporting entities had a hand in the development of the framework and its implementation.

The elements of an accountability framework are present both system-wide and at the level of individual organizations. The Inspectors invite the United Nations General Assembly to endorse the five formal recommendations included in the report as a means of furthering the effective implementation of the United Nations System-wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and strengthening the accountability of the United Nations system with regard to gender mainstreaming, gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Note: the image was taken for the UNSWAP Technical guidelines document issued by UN-Women.