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Ensuring Gender Parity within the United Nations

The organization of the United Nations officially began on October 24th, 1945 out of necessity for establishing and preserving peace among nations. In the few months before, countries and delegates came together to form the United Nations Charter, which would be used to create the official United Nations. It is possible that many people may assume that the involvement of female representatives and voices in the United Nations took a long time to happen, and that women were not involved in the founding of the organization as well. However, women were a part of the United Nations even before it was officially established by contributing to the charter of the organization that took place a few months before official establishment. 

At the beginning of the United Nations in 1945, leading figures like Jessie Street of Australia and Marie-Hélène Lefaucheux of France proposed crucial parts within the charter that would specifically make all positions in the United Nations equally open to both men and women.  This idea established in 1945 of equally open positions—gender parity—is something the United Nations continues to preserve and improve on in today’s ever-expanding political sphere.

Gender parity, in the context of the United Nations, looks at establishing equal contribution of women and men to any issues or councils that the United Nations has control over. While certain regulations for gender equality in regard to political contribution are certainly helpful, it’s important that these efforts are actually put into practice within the United Nations. According to statistics found by the United Nations, women make up about 42% of the overall international staff. However, when broken down into “field and non-field entities”, women make up only 31% of field entities. In an effort to decrease the proportional gap between men and women, the United Nations continues to prioritize gender parity through its creation of a “Strategy on Gender Parity”. The Strategy looks to set goals for gender parity within areas of leadership, senior management, and for creating what the United Nations calls an “enabling environment”.  

The main issue isn’t due to a large difference in the proportion of men and women in the United Nations. Women are capable of attaining seats within the General Assembly and other councils that make up the United Nations. Instead, it is important to focus on the equality of contributing to idea-sharing, deal-making and other crucial tasks within the United Nations. For example, there could be a majority of women members in the United Nations that outweighs the amount of positions held by men. However, this might not matter if the opportunities for women to be heard are overshadowed by a possible underlying cultural and social dominance of male voices.

At the center of the argument and preservation of gender parity is the need for overall diversity when large political, social and economic decisions are being made. Multiple perspectives of many different people from various backgrounds are what create new ideas that are there to benefit a diverse population, which in this case is the entire world. Taking steps toward gender parity within complex organizations, like the United Nations, takes humanity one step closer to furthering ideas of individuality, culture and global inclusion.

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Lucy Holland

Cal Poly '24

Lucy is a 2nd year business major at Cal Poly SLO! She is interested in writing about current events and popular trends. Lucy is currently planning on using her business degree to attend law school after finishing her undergraduate. In her free time she likes to go to the beach, hike and discover new coffee shops!
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