United Nations


The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) sees itself as an advocate for women’s rights.

It was decided to found the Fund at the First World Conference on Women held in Mexico City in 1975. The Fund was then established in 1976 and initially named the "Voluntary Fund for the UN Decade for Women". Since 2000, UNIFEM has had the status of an implementing organisation for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

UNIFEM works to achieve equal rights for women. The development fund provides financial support and advisory services for women’s projects and women’s organisations. The aim of UNIFEM is to involve women in the planning and decision-making processes of development policy. Within the United Nations UNIFEM plays the part of a catalyst and coordination unit for gender mainstreaming and the empowerment of women. Other international organisations too, including the World Bank and the EU, call on the organisation’s expertise when implementing programmes of their own.

UNIFEM is financed from voluntary contributions which, for the most part, come from governments and donations. Within the German government it is the BMZ that has lead responsibility for cooperation with UNIFEMIn 2008, Germany contributed 2.54 million US dollars to UNIFEM. The BMZ cooperates with the German National Committee for UNIFEM.

UN Women

In July 2010, the UN General Assembly decided to found a new UN organisation for gender equality, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, or UN Women for short. The new organisation started working on 1 January 2011.

The existing United Nations bodies and programmes dealing with women and gender will be merged into UN Women: the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Office of the Special Advisor on Gender Issues (OSAGI), the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW).

UN Women will be tasked with mainstreaming gender throughout the entire UN system. It will engage in normative work, i.e. developing policy goals and ensuring that existing international commitments are upheld and implemented throughout the world. And it will also carry out development policy programme work relating to gender equality and empowerment, and will advise inter-governmental bodies and Member States.

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