The first ESCWA Award on Advancing Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women was presented by Ms. Rima Khalaf, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCWA, to three staff members. The award is delivered for the first time and constitutes a milestone for ESCWA, which is adopting a holistic approach to mainstreaming gender perspectives in its plans, policies and programmes.
At a ceremony held on Friday 12 December 2014 at the United Nations House in Beirut to mark the occasion, Khalaf handed out gold, silver and bronze awards to Ms. Nouhad Hayek of the Conference Services Section, Ms. Neda Jaafar of the Statistics Division and Mr. Raydan Al-Saqqaf of the Social Development Division respectively, in recognition of their exceptional contributions to advancing gender equality and for playing an instrumental role in shaping the recent gender equality approach adopted by ESCWA.
Addressing staff members, Khalaf said, "ESCWA is fully integrating gender into its work to effectively assist member States in formulating more gender-sensitive policies and programmes, thus positively impacting the lives of women and all citizens." She added that ESCWA must lead by example when working to shape regional policy in this priority area. Khalaf also highlighted the pioneering role ESCWA is playing in piloting and implementing the strategic road map on gender equality and the empowerment of women, known as UN-SWAP (United Nations System-Wide Action Plan), which is the United Nations first accountability framework for gender mainstreaming.
The ESCWA Senior UN-SWAP Coordinator, Ms. Mehrinaz El-Awady, explained that ESCWA also aims to nurture an organizational culture that enables staff to better balance their work-life needs. She noted that this award is among several progressive steps recently taken by the organization, including the implementation of systemized flexible working arrangements, the provision of mandatory gender training and the adoption of systems and plans to close the gender parity gap at ESCWA.