Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Rabab Fatima, President of the UN-Women Executive Board at the orientation meeting for the new members of the Executive Board / Annual update on UN-Women activities with Executive Board membership, 21 January 2022

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, and my Dear Colleagues,

Good afternoon. I am very pleased to welcome you all to today’s orientation and annual update on UN-Women activities for the members of the Executive Board.

Allow me at the outset to extend a warm welcome to the incoming Members of the Executive Board for this year and to all observers.

I wish to thank you all for your close engagement and commitment to gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls through the work of UN-Women.

I am looking forward to a productive year ahead; and to close collaboration with you all.  Let us try to make a difference and bring about some real change in the situation, no matter, how incremental or small it may be.  For the women and girls on the ground globally, trust me, that would not be small.

I thank Deputy Executive Director Anita Bhatia for joining us.  I look forward to remaining closely engaged with all UN-Women colleagues and senior management as we take forward our work.   It will also be important to have close engagement with country and regional offices. Their perspective is extremely important.

I have been the President of the UNICEF Executive Board in 2020 and the Vice President of the UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board in 2021 – and both those responsibilities made me appreciate so much the work that these frontline agencies, including UN-Women do in carrying forward the decisions that we make in the Board.  Especially in the Covid situation, they have shown courage and true dedication to their profession.  They have been playing a key role in the response and recovery work globally.  And I wish to assure you that the Board will do everything to support your efforts.

I highlight the work of the funds and programmes everywhere, as an example of the best that the UN represents.  And it is with that conviction that I have taken up the responsibility of this Board.  I intend to work closely with the Secretariat to ensure that the work of UN-Women is consistent with the programmatic and coordination response of the other UN operational agencies and the UN system as a whole. And in this regard, also underline the importance of the oversight role and guidance that our Board can provide.

I will work closely with the Presidents of the Executive Boards of the other Funds and Programmes, to ensure optimal system-wide cohesion and coherence.  We had a very good meeting earlier this week – the 4 presidents.  It was good to see that we were all on the same page in our commitment to work closely together to achieve our common objectives.  We also discussed at length on the modalities and arrangements for the FRS.

The work-plan of the Executive Board this year will be intense; as this is the first year of the implementation of the new UN-Women Strategic Plan for 2022-2025. The Board will also have other important matters and take decisions on operational activities to provide policy guidance to UN-Women. All the planned activities can be found on the Executive Board webpage in the Annual workplan document.

I am happy that UN-Women colleagues, including from the field, have joined us today to brief us on key areas of UN-Women’s work and mandate.  I hope that this will be the first of many such briefings and exchanges that the Board members will have with UN-Women colleagues to ensure better understanding, and the efficient and productive outcome of the work of the Board.

On that note, I wish to say that we should be open to bringing in good ideas and practices from the work of the other Executive Boards.  My experience with the two other Boards in the past two years have given me useful insight; and I hope to bring some of those good ideas to our work here, while being fully conscience of the unique nature and culture of each agency.  Many of you may also have such useful ideas from your work with the other Boards.  Let’s share them with an open mind, with the sole purpose of making UN-Women more purposeful.

Let’s make this year a truly productive year in our common quest to fight discrimination against women and girls; and to ensure gender equality; and women’s empowerment and advancement everywhere, in the spirit of mutual respect and partnership, in line with national priorities and perspectives.  On that note, I wish to underline the importance of the participation of programme countries more in the work of the Board.  We would do everything possible to support that.

I am happy to see that the final item of today’s agenda is on the role of the Executive Board.  I thank the Secretariat for including that item.  As members of the Executive Board, we have an important advisory and oversight function, and to provide direction to the important work of the organization.  While there will be other stakeholders, the primary responsibility rests with the Board to provide that direction, guidance and oversight. Let us remain true to our responsibility.

I would like now to give the floor to Deputy Executive Director, Ms. Anita Bhatia.

And I would also beg leave of you, leaving you in Ms. Bhatia’s good hands. I have another meeting to attend.

I thank you.