A historic milestone in achieving gender parity in UNICEF

Women comprise more than 48 per cent of UNICEF's senior level staff, positioning the Organization within the gender parity threshold of the United Nations (47/53 per cent)

Girls sitting and holding tablets
UNICEF/UN0637779/Florine Bos
18 August 2022

For the first time ever, UNICEF is within the gender parity threshold (47/53 per cent) of the United Nations. Women hold more than 48 per cent of the Organization's senior (P5) level positions.

The results were reported within less than two years since UNICEF launched a set of temporary special measures to achieve gender parity at the senior level, in October 2020 - a historic milestone in achieving gender parity! This represents one step further in our journey to make our workplace more gender-equal, and numbers are only one part of a larger effort.

Achievements in a challenging environment

Over the last decade, the challenge to grow the proportion of women at the P5 level remained persistent. P5, a rank that - across the UN system - is equivalent to a position as Chief of Section, is widely considered the first senior management level.

Despite having reached parity in lower and higher levels, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the progress. The health crisis pushed more women to leave the organization, resulting to the gap growing wider.

The context that triggered action

Different factors led UNICEF to take action. First, the special measures was part of the implementation of the EDGE Action Plan 2022-2024 on gender equality at the workplace. Second, the decision followed the guidance coming from the UN System-wide Strategy on Gender Parity.

In addition, the measures aligned with our effort to eliminate gender biases in P5 recruitments, as well as the extensive knowledge we have today about the impact a more gender-diverse workforce has on our programmes for children and families.

What we learned

While the special measures have been instrumental in reaching gender parity, they have contributed in other ways to building a more inclusive UNICEF. During this time, we learned how pervasively gender biases are present in recruitment processes, how to tackle them proactively, and how important it is to conduct talent outreach that is directed to a variety of groups, both inside UNICEF and externally. We also know that having more work flexibility and better policies to support work-life harmony are critical to attract gender-diverse candidates, and to retain them.