U.N. Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet, speaks at the opening of the 55th session of the Commission on the Status of Women on Feb. 22. Beside her is Garen Nazarian, permanent representative of Armenia and the commission's chairman. U.N. Women faces pressures from gender advocates to deliver on its commitment of uplifting women's lives amid constrained budget atmosphere. Photo by: Devra Berkowitz / United Nations

Amid a constrained budget atmosphere, the newly launched United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, or U.N. Women, faces pressures from gender advocates to deliver on its commitment of uplifting women’s lives.

Kathy Peach, head of external affairs at development charity Voluntary Service Overseas U.K., said: “The feedback we get from our volunteers and partners is that the U.N. is not really delivering for women at the grassroots.”

At the inaugural session of the agency’s executive board on Jan. 24, Michelle Bachelet, executive director of U.N. Women, said improving local capacity and ownership of gender-responsive policies will be the focus of the new U.N. entity.

>> Michelle Bachelet Maps Out UN Women’s 100-Day Action Plan

To achieve the agency’s goals, activists say U.N. Women needs additional resources. 

The agency has been promissed an annual budget of $500 million that is financed by voluntary contributions and the regular U.N. budget. But donors have so far only pledged more than $53 million for U.N. Women’s work this year, and its combined resources amount to less than $200 million, Trust Law, a Thomson Reuters Foundation service, notes.

>> UN General Assembly Weighs UN Women’s Budget

“Member states have been slow to step up and give support. This is disappointing given the political backing (for the agency) from countries including the U.S. and the UK,” said Peach. “Some governments are saying let’s wait and see how it goes, but this is a ‘Catch 22’, because if UN Women doesn’t get the money it needs, it won’t deliver results very quickly.”

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About the author

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    Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.