Remarks at the Second Regular Session of the UN Women Executive Board

Ambassador Kelley Currie
U.S. Representative for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
August 29, 2017


Thank you, Madam Vice President. My name is Kelley Currie, and I am the United States Representative to ECOSOC. I am pleased to address the UN Women’s Executive Board for the first time. From improving maternal health to eradicating poverty and empowering girls, UN Women is delivering for communities around the globe. Executive Director and her staff are to be commended for their work every day on behalf of women and girls worldwide.

Among the greatest challenges faced by the organization is UN Women’s response to protracted humanitarian crises such as the one in Syria. UN Women is helping women like Zainab, a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon, to take back control of her life. Zainab’s four sons were killed in the ongoing conflict in Syria. She fled to Lebanon where she found a UN Women-supported center in Beirut. The center provides skills and training to women refugees. Once full of despair and hopelessness, Zainab has now learned hair styling and greets clients at the salon where she works part-time. Zainab’s training has empowered her to feel that “life is still in front of us.”

UN Women’s strategic plan has also outlined support for sudden emergencies like the landslides and rains affecting Sierra Leone. UN Women is partnering to help women in the areas of innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship. And the organization’s youth-focused LEAP Framework has as its main goals strengthening young women’s leadership in all spheres; empowering young women economically; and ending violence against young women and girls. We thank UN Women for responding to these important needs.

The United States offers these thoughts on UN Women’s 2018-2021 Strategic Plan and 2018-2019 integrated budget. We support the inclusion of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as part of the common focus of UN Women, UNDP, UNICEF, and UNFPA within the 2030 development agenda.

The organization’s attention to women and girls in humanitarian crisis situations demonstrates an ability to remain relevant, adjusting its priorities to take current needs into account.

On access to health care, UN Women should be guided by a broad principle of equality at all levels, not concentrate narrowly on one set of social norms or duplicate the work of other UN agencies.

UN Women recognizes the importance of reinforcing existing donor partnerships and has expanded its collaboration with women’s organizations, civil society, and non-traditional partners including faith-based organizations. By doing so, it leverages under-utilized resources to improve the situation of women and girls worldwide.

We agree with UN Women’s views on field presence, including concentrating on countries with the most vulnerable populations; maintaining efficient management to staff ratios; and partnering with other UN entities to fulfill needs in countries where the organization does not have a physical presence. We favor the move away from smaller, shorter duration projects to the Flagship Program Initiatives. Because these initiatives attract interest among a wide range of partners, they are better resourced, have greater impact, and tend to be sustainable after the project ends.

Turning to UN Women’s biennial budget and results functions, the United States supports independent, efficient, and effective auditing, monitoring, and evaluation capabilities. The Board of Auditors presented a number of recommendations, and we welcome the continued support and engagement by management on audit-related issues. UN Women has moved from receiving audit services from UNDP’s Office of Audit and Investigations to developing an in-house function. The in-house function will become operational around December 2017. UN Women will also consolidate its evaluation and audit functions into a single division. These actions will admirably result in a savings of $900,000. We appreciate UN Women’s attention to cost recovery, a necessary component of effectively run programs.

The United States recognizes the importance of engaging a new generation of women and men. As UN Women’s Executive Director Mlanbo-Ngcuka stated, peace and stability cannot be built without women… “and it cannot be built for them- it has to be built with them.”