NewsUN pooled funding as a comprehensive approach for gender equality and SDG5 achievement

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With the 67th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) kicking off, the United Nations takes steps to advance gender equality and Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls) including through the use of inter-agency pooled funds.

Future forward at CSW67

The CSW67 provides participants with a unique chance to shape our digital future and explore ways of unlocking financing for SDG5. Over the next two weeks representatives from government and civil society organizations, along with experts and activists from around the world will gather to face existing challenges and further the enormous potential technology holds to empower all women and girls. Also on the agenda is determining how to reach those living in rural and underserved areas.

Inter-agency pooled funds are proven and effective funding instruments that bring together UN entities and partners around initiatives that promote gender equality and empowerment. In the last four years, the United Nations Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) Office, working closely with UN entities from inter-agency groups, has incorporated new policies and processes to ensure interagency pooled funds are being utilized to serve better gender priorities.

As a result, the UN MPTF Office gender portfolio has grown in terms of quantity and quality. More importantly, gender equality and gender markers are being progressively mainstreamed across the entire portfolio.

A broad gender portfolio

The UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office administers a broad portfolio of pooled funds that contribute to gender equality and SDG5. Many incorporate a gender approach, including providing access to resources, strengthening institutional capacity, and investing in gender-responsive services and programs.

Flagship gender-focused pooled funds include Spotlight Initiative, the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, and the Elsie Initiative Fund for Uniformed Women in Peace Operations. Other pooled funds—like the Peacebuilding Fund and Joint SDG Fund—incorporate gender initiatives, with more signing up to do so. Recently, the UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund has advanced access to quality sexual and reproductive health care while working to enhance overall services, protections, and livelihood opportunities for women and girls.

Financial instruments fit for advancing gender equality

UN pooled resources are effective funding instruments that allow for comprehensive intersectional gender-sensitive programming, featuring a strong commitment to gender equality and tracking gender-specific progress and performance.

Inter-agency pooled funds offer comprehensive and multidimensional approaches to gender equality where gender-sensitive programming and pooled resources are characterized by a strong commitment to gender equality. Pooled funds provide flexibility in implementing protocols or projects with a gender perspective while making it possible to track gender-related progress and performance.

Responsive, pooled funds can support a wide range of initiatives that empower women and girls, including economic development, gender-sensitive education and training, the promotion of legal reforms that protect women and girls from discrimination and violence, and innovation and tech that bridges the digital divide.

Pooled funds can also be leveraged as platform for exchanging ideas and establishing partnerships between civil society organizations, governments, and other stakeholders—thereby furthering the reach and effectiveness of gender-sensitive policies and programs.

In response to recommendations in the Implementation Plan of the High-Level Task Force for Gender Equality, the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office, UN center of expertise in UN pooled funding, has incorporated measures to advance gender mainstreaming and gender equality, like the update to the fund proposal appraisal checklist so it includes points that confirm United Nations guidance on gender equality and empowerment are taken into account. Or the dissemination of an overview on relevant United Nations guidelines and criteria related to gender equality and empowerment.

Most recently, the MPTF Office has sought methods of mainstreaming of proposed United Nations data standards on linking UN financial flows to the SDGs in newly integrated MPTF Office fund and project planning and reporting platforms: Gateway.

Follow the money: Gender equality financial targets

In a 2021 survey by the UN Sustainable Development Group among UN pooled funds administrators, 37% of multi-partner trust funds and 48% of joint programmes active that year had implemented financial targets for gender equality. According to the 2021 UNSDG Fiduciary Management and Oversight Group survey on Funding Compact Commitment 14, Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office efforts to embed gender equality markers in the design and implementation of inter-agency pooled funds were successful in 69% of multi-partner trust funds and 67% of standalone joint programmes.

Additionally, financial tracking has enabled reporting on the 51% of multi-partner trust funds and 71% of standalone joint programmes that have allocated 15% or more of their resources to pooled fund programmes targeting gender equality as a principal objective.