Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

Women: UN Women Executive Board Annual Session; Agenda item 2 – Strategic Plan

Statement by

H.E. Mr. Karel J.G. van Oosterom

Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations


Agenda item 2 – Strategic Plan

UNWOMEN Executive Board Annual Session

New York, 16 September 2013



Thank you Mr. President and Madam Executive Director.


Let me start with extending a warm welcome to you, Madam Executive Director. You bring to UN Women a wealth of leadership experience, and a personal commitment to inclusion and to addressing inequalities. We agree with you that the coming years will provide possibilities to place empowerment and rights of all women more prominently on the development agenda. We look forward working with you to achieve this.

I would like to make a few comments on the strategic plan, our cooperation with UN Women in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region and finally on the post 2015 development agenda.

Strategic Plan

The Netherlands supports the priorities set out by UN Women, the principles and chosen approach for 2014-2017. It is a solid basis for UN Women to fulfill its mandate and contribute to gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide, especially in areas where women lag behind: political and economic participation, violence against women and women’s leadership in peace and security and humanitarian action. These are priorities we share.

Mr. President, allow me to highlight a few points on the way ahead.

Reporting on progress of the Strategic Plan will require considerable efforts and we emphasize that parallel data collection systems should be avoided as much as possible. In our experience, it is beneficial to provide country offices with an opportunity to “tell their story”. Reporting must not be limited to a counting exercise only but should also provide input for an analytical narrative explaining UN Women’s contribution to gender equality and empowerment of women.

We wish to underline the importance of strong and independent Audit and Evaluation functions. This will ensure accountability and critical feedback and lessons for improving performance. We look forward to discuss the findings of the evaluation on UN Women’s work to eliminate Violence against Women at this Board.

The world is changing rapidly and the UN development architecture has to change with it. An ambitious post 2015 agenda, connecting past commitments with new challenges, requires an effective functioning UN development architecture with clear roles and responsibilities, based on comparative advantages. As you mentioned at the press conference last week “Delivering as One has to be taken to new heights” for the UN to succeed and for women to benefit. We welcome that UNWOMEN’s Strategic Plan positions UN Women as part of the UN system, committed to promote coherence and to be accountable for its role therein.

As the Executive Director indicated during her press conference, “UNWomen has the challenge of resources and there is a need to diversify the sources of funding”, for instance through private sector partnerships. The Netherlands encourages this way of resource mobilization.

Cooperation MENA-region

The Netherlands values the cooperation with UN Women in the field of promoting women’s rights and gender equality in the MENA-region. With the crisis in Syria evolving into its third year, more and more people face increasing challenges just to survive. Earlier this year my Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister Timmermans, visited refugee camps in Turkey. My Minister of Foreign Trade and Development cooperation, Minister Ploumen, just got back from a visit to Za’atari, the refugee camp in Jordan. Za’atari receives 15.000 new refugees every day and with over 2 million people living there it has become the 4th biggest town of Jordan. Living conditions are difficult and female refugees face many occurrences of gender based violence. We are very much impressed by the determination of the women to take up their lives and build a living. We appreciate UN Women’s work to support them in this area and to facilitate their participation in decision-making as well as addressing gender based violence in the camp. The Netherlands is pleased to have been able to contribute to the work of UN Women in the Za’atari refugee camp.

Gender Equality in the post 2015 agenda

Mr. President, more than half of all women worldwide experience violence during their lives. In more than a hundred countries there are discriminatory laws against women hampering their full participation in society. This is a severe injustice and a major obstacle for development and progress. We need to do much better for half of humanity. For the Netherlands, gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights are priorities. They are crucial for development and a right in themselves and should be included in the post 2015 development agenda. We appreciate UN Women’s work in advocating for a stand-alone gender goal and mainstreaming of gender equality in other goals. We look forward to continue our partnership with UN Women for peace, justice and development.

Thank you.