AnnJanette Rosga Interviewed About GEAR, New UN Agency for Women

The WILPF Enews Editor Theta Pavis recently (September2009) had the opportunity to inteview AnnJanette Rosga, the Director of WILP's UN Office, about the Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR), the newly created UN agency for women and about the role WILPF played in GEAR's creation.

Read more about GEAR and its creation in the interview below.

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WILPF e-News: What can WILPFers do to make sure that the new U.N. women’s agency is properly created and funded?

AnnJanette Rosga, Director of WILPF’s U.N. Office: The language in the resolution does not actually require particular funding levels, though it does address the need for significant funding. Of course, no country is excited about putting money up right now because of the [economic] downturn—least of all on gender issues … The best thing [members] can do is to advocate with their own national governments, to make sure that they are supportive of funding this new entity to the levels required to enable it to be effective. Members can also reach out to their U.N. representatives, or the people who communicate with them. WILPF International, or your national Section, can help you figure out who that is. Some countries are dodging the funding issue. The U.K. has gone on record with a commitment to increase their core contributions, but other countries have equivocated. The U.S. is supporting the entity, but hasn’t been clear about how much money they are going to give. Writing public statements that can put pressure on the officials and U.N. member states really matters.

WILPF e-News: How was WILPF helpful in achieving GEAR’s objectives in the establishment of this agency?

Rosga: We were one of the key players. This entity was envisioned and came into being because NGOs put pressure on the U.N. There were three NGOs that got it off the ground, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, WILPF and WEDO. We were very heavily involved in the beginning. That initial core group of New York/UN-based advocacy groups has now expanded to include many other NGOs. Due to our lack of staff capacity, which stems from a lack of funding, WILPF is not as active now as it once was. We would love to make it much more front and center. A lot of heavy duty lobbying has yet to happen. The U.N. needs to appoint an under secretary general to head up the new entity, and there needs to be a real budget for it to be successful. The Center for Women’s Global Leadership, WEDO, and to some extent WILPF, are doing incredible organizing to make sure that women from all over the world are engaged in this process.

WILPF e-News: How does this fit in with other WILPF work?

Rosga: This is the sort of important research and activism that WILPF does. Remember, 1325 was adopted because WILPF was one of the main organizations leading that campaign. We coordinated with other NGOS, and our PeaceWomen Project follows up every day with work to monitor and advocate for the effective implementation of 1325.

WILPF e-News: Can GEAR and the creation of this new women’s entity teach us things about how the U.N. works?

Rosga: GEAR has real potential to be a model for other aspects of U.N. reform. There is a problem with how U.N. field operations work, and the planning at headquarters – the two are insufficiently integrated; they are institutionally separated, when everyone working on women’s issues knows you can’t separate policy from practice.  We want to break down the idea of the field being “out there” – the so-called “field” is right here in our backyard! There are women’s equality issues right here in front of us, and important policies and “best practices” are being developed “out there” in what people typically refer to as “the field.” That separation no longer serves us institutionally, if it ever did.

WILPF e-News: Clearly the four U.N. women’s offices that currently exist are there to help women. But do you expect to see any turf battles during the formation of this new entity?

Rosga: Honestly, to the degree that turf battles might have happened (and I don’t know that they did), I would think a lot of them are already over – all these agencies were part of the drafting process – there have been staff from these organizations consulted, and actively involved in various drafting processes all along. There were a range of proposals and models and people had to be on board for this to happen. It couldn’t have happened if at least the biggest turf battles had not already been resolved.

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