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Gender integration (or mainstreaming) is the process of assessing the implications for women, men and people with diverse gender identities of any planned action—including legislation, policies or programmes—in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making the concerns and experiences of women, men and people with diverse gender identities an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes. This is done so that all individuals may benefit equally—so that inequality is not perpetuated.

While focus is often placed on making sure that women’s perspectives are reflected in planned actions, proper gender integration requires that due consideration is given also to the perspectives of men and people with diverse gender identities. It requires an analysis of how gender impacts the human rights of everyone, including LGBTI persons.

Gender integration goes hand in hand with the promotion and protection of the human rights of women and LGBTI people, and the elimination of discrimination against women and LGBTI people. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality.  Gender integration is part of the global strategy of the United Nations for promoting gender equality.

How UN Human Rights promotes gender integration

Gender integration is part of the global strategy of the United Nations for promoting gender equality. Gender integration efforts within our office are two-fold. They involve:

  • Institutionalizing gender equality in organizational culture, structure and processes; and
  • Advancing gender equality in all areas of the UN Human rights mandate (human rights mechanism support, field operations and technical cooperation, research and human rights mainstreaming).

For example, the UN Human Rights’ Gender Equality Policy and its internal implementation plan and the Organizational Effectiveness Plan on Diversity and Gender maps out concrete actions to advance gender equality in both the institutional setting and in the work done by our office.

In addition, UN Human Rights reports annually to the United Nations System-Wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-SWAP). This UN system-wide framework enhances accountability and measures progress towards the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women. It includes 17 performance indicators that establish a common understanding of what it means to achieve gender equality—and a common method to work towards it. See the 2022 UN-SWAP summary by UN Human Rights.

Our office also strives to build awareness on unconscious bias in recruitment processes that may prevent parity and greater diversity. A video on unconscious bias in recruitment was launched jointly with the UN Migration Agency’s Gender Coordination Unit on 2 June 2017.

We created a free training course on gender integration, available to staff and the general public:

Gender accreditation programme

As an International Gender Champion, High Commissioner Volker Türk pledged to implement a "gender accreditation programme" to reinforce the capacity of our country offices to integrate gender in advocacy and programmatic work. The programme also aims to ensure the meaningful involvement and participation of young women of diverse origins in programmes and initiatives led by our Office at global, regional and national levels.

Piloted in 2019 and launched in 2020, the UN Human Rights Gender Accreditation Programme translates our commitment to gender equality, diversity and inclusion into measurable actions. It provides tailored support to two field presences per year so that they may meet these commitments.

Gender architecture

The UN Human Rights Gender Equality Policy and its internal implementation plan are to be implemented by all UN Human Rights staff, at headquarters and in field presences, supported by an office-wide gender architecture:

  • The Women’s Human Rights and Gender Section (WRGS), which includes two full-time staff member dedicated to gender integration work
  • Regional Gender Advisors (RGAs), who are gender experts working in the New York Office and regional offices (Lebanon, Senegal, Panama and Ethiopia), providing advice on the integration of women’s human rights and gender perspectives in our work internationally, regionally and nationally. The evaluation of the Regional Gender Advisors Structure notes that it was a highly effective mechanism for achieving regional level results.
  • Gender Focal Points, who are staff members at headquarters and in field presences, whose responsibilities include the facilitation of gender integration in their office or section

The report by the Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN) states that UN Human Rights’ "longstanding commitment to gender equality and the empowerment of women is widely acknowledged and highly regarded. The Office has worked hard to develop and improve tools to promote gender equality in all areas of its work. It advocated successfully for including Goal 5 in the 2030 Agenda and has identified gender equality as a main area of its future work across all its strategic pillars."

The Evaluation of OHCHR’s support to legislation in conformity with international standards notes that UN Human Rights "provides extensive, high-quality expert support to gender-specific legislative bills, often in partnership with UN Women and UNFPA, and are effectively supported in this by the Women’s Rights and Gender Section (WRGS) at HQ."

Annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective

The Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted in 2007 resolution 6/30, which welcomes a “panel discussion on the integration of a gender perspective in the work of the Human Rights Council, and decides to incorporate into its programme of work an annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout its work and that of its mechanisms, including the evaluation of progress made and challenges experienced.”

Since 2008, the annual discussion has covered a variety of themes on gender integration: