United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCWA Rima Khalaf headed a ceremony at the UN House in Beirut to present the ESCWA Award on Advancing Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women to four staff members of the commission. The event, which took place on Thursday 8 September 2016, marks the second time the award is granted by ESCWA. The commission has effectively adopted a holistic approach to mainstreaming gender perspectives in its plans, policies and programmes.
The panel distributing the award included, in addition to the Executive Secretary, Deputy Executive Secretary for Programme Abdallah Al Dardari, Deputy Executive Secretary for Programme Support Khawla Mattar, and Director of the ESCWA Centre for Women (ECW) Mehrinaz Elawady. The winners of the Gold, Silver and Bronze awards were Sukaina Al-Nasrawi of the Statistics Division, Sonya Knox-Meyerson and Felix Herzog of the Strategy, Evaluation and Partnership Section, and Souleyma Tebecharany of the Information and Communications Technology Section, respectively.
The recipient of the Gold award, Al-Nasrawi, effectively participated in a series of activities to enhance gender equality within ESCWA. This included participating in the execution of ESCWA gender audit exercise; staff assessment of gender equality; ESCWA organizational culture survey and the development of ESCWA gender marker. She also designed and delivered training material to build the capacity of ESCWA gender focal points network on “Visualizing Gender Statistics.”
As for the recipients of the Silver award, Meyerson-Knox and Herzog, they worked collaboratively on reviewing ESCWA evaluation policy to ensure the integration of gender and human rights perspectives. They ensured that all recruited consultants for evaluations have a gender background. They developed hands-on tools guiding evaluators to address gender equality. The team also instituted a process of ensuring that all ESCWA evaluations are reviewed by a gender specialist to include a gender dimension.
The winner of the Bronze award, Tebecharany, developed and tested the first computer-based system to manage and track the flexible working arrangement on the organizational level at ESCWA. She also developed educational videos and other training material to support staff in using the system.
Addressing staff members at the ceremony, Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf remarked that in the latest audit, UN-Women placed ESCWA as the top achiever of the United Nations System-Wide Action Plan (UN-SWAP), which is the strategic road map on gender equality and the empowerment of women, and the United Nations first accountability framework for gender mainstreaming.
For her part, ECW Director Mehrinaz Elawady said that the process for choosing winners was very competitive and based on clear criteria set ahead of time. She further explained that applications were reviewed by a panel comprising Country Representative of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Lebanon Asma Kurdahi, Director of the Human Resources Section at ESCWA Johanens Kratzheller and ESCWA Staff Council Representative Mona Fattah in addition to herself. She encouraged staff members to continue their good work on this line and apply for the next round of gender awards, which have become a yearly tradition.