United Nations Stand United for Governance and Gender

Date: Friday, April 8, 2011

New Delhi - A Memorandum of Understanding signed between UNDP, UNICEF and UN Women will aim to improve decentralised governance in India and focus specifically on women political leaders. A first of its kind in India, the MoU will enable the three UN agencies to combine resources at local, state and national levels to make their programmes on governance and gender more effective.

A unique expression of commitment of the three agencies, the MoU is not merely a formal document but a symbolic and new beginning for joint UN programming in India. The MoU means than the agencies will have common deliverables, joint work planning, common partners and complementary locations. With parallel funding and implementation, the agencies will be able to reduce duplication and increase impact.

As a long standing objective of the UN System in India since 1992, there is indeed good reason to strengthen political leadership of women in panchayats or village level bodies.

India has witnessed the world’s largest experiment in grassroots local democracy, triggered by the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Indian Constitution. They helped to create Panchayati Raj Institutions (Village Councils) and urban local bodies that are elected bodies and cannot dissolved by administrative order.

Since 1995, the achievements have been impressive. More than a million women have been elected to office in each of the three rounds of elections held so far. Almost one-third of seats are reserved for women, and this is slated to increase to 50 percent.

The MoU will involve a mapping exercise for selected states; a common capacity development strategy and training plan, resources and modueles as well as the development and sharing of demonstration models.

UN Women is the UN’s focal agency for women’s empowerment and gender equality, while UNDP is the UN’s Global Development Network. UNICEF is the focal agency for children. Together they will help to achieve the MDGs related to women and children and ensure political inclusion and voice for women in local politics.