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Gender equality

UNICEF issues new guidance on promoting gender equality in all programmes

NEW YORK, USA, 26 July 2011 – UNICEF has launched a series of operational guidance documents designed to help its staff and partners promote gender equality through UNICEF-supported programming globally.
VIDEO: UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Geeta Rao Gupta discusses the importance of gender equality in achieving the Millennium Development Goals with equity.  Watch in RealPlayer


UNICEF’s 2010 Gender Policy mandates that all of its programming, including its work in emergencies, should contribute to gender equality. This means that promoting gender equality is the job of all UNICEF staff.

The document series – ‘Operational Guidance for Gender Equality in UNICEF-supported Programming’ – gives staff practical advice on how to address inequality and discrimination, and proposes mechanisms to monitor progress in this area.

Addressing gender inequality

“It’s important because it provides staff with the ‘how to’,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Geeta Rao Gupta. “For many years in the field of gender equality, we’ve focussed on the ‘what’ and the ‘why’. But ultimately, for it to be practiced and integrated within programming, it’s the ‘how to’ that’s most important.”

VIDEO: UNICEF Representative in Algeria Manuel Fontaine discusses the challenges of implementing true gender equality in that country.  Watch in RealPlayer


The new guidance advances UNICEF’s commitment to addressing gender inequality, which is essential if UNICEF and its partners are to reduce poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals with equity, reaching the poorest and most disadvantaged children.

“We have done a poor job over the past 30 years of global development in addressing gender inequality. And it intersects with other forms of inequity,” said Ms. Gupta. “We couldn’t possibly fulfil the equity focus and advance the equity agenda without paying attention to gender inequality.”

The guidance also enables staff to better measure results and understand the impact of UNICEF’s and partners’ programming on the lives of women and girls.

New priorities

“This guidance is extremely useful for us in order to better structure our approach to gender equality,” said UNICEF Representative in Algeria Manuel Fontaine. “It really helps us from the knowledge acquisition level all the way to our advocacy work, our partnership work, planning and evaluating. It also forces us to be more demanding of ourselves.”

VIDEO: UNICEF Deputy Regional Director Kirsi Madi discusses how the organization's new guidance on gender equality is going to help country and regional offices.  Watch in RealPlayer


The guidance is in line with new UNICEF programme priorities, including a commitment to work more with men and boys – particularly in regions such as Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where there are high levels of violence, drug abuse and suicide amongst men.

“We should not forget boys and men,” said UNICEF’s Deputy Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, Kirsi Madi. “We are really trying to work with men and boys to make sure that they understand their role in the family. We are looking at the parenting skills of the whole family … but particularly with emphasis on the father.”

© UNICEF/NYHQ2005-1068/LeMoyne
Girls and boys gather at Timnin El-Tahta, a public school in the Beqaa Valley region of Lebanon. UNICEF's new operational guidance aims to promote gender equality in all programmes worldwide.

Guidance at all levels

UNICEF regional offices will use the gender-equality guidance to strengthen their technical support for country offices. “I would say the use of the guidance is at all levels of the organization,” noted Ms. Madi.

At the policy level, the guidance will inform UNICEF’s work nationally and internationally to assist governments in providing budgets and services that promote equality for girls and boys – and to stress that discriminating against girls violates human rights and is economically unsound.

“If we don’t pay attention to gender inequality and address it,” said Ms. Gupta, “you are really saying that half the population in any country is not being fully productive, and that their rights are not being guaranteed. And that’s going to hold back the potential of the whole country.”



Related links

Click below for two-page briefs about operational guidance on promoting gender equality through UNICEF-supported programmes (all PDFs):


Young child survival and development

Basic education and gender equality

HIV/AIDS and children

Child protection

Policy advocacy and partnerships for children's rights

Humanitarian action

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