[JURIST] The UN General Assembly [official website] passed [press release] a resolution [materials] Monday to consolidate four agencies to create one large, overarching department that will be responsible for women's rights development. The UN Development Fund for Women, the Division for the Advancement of Women, the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues, and the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women will be collapsed into one department [UN News Centre report], headed by an under-secretary-general. The resolution:
Strongly supports the consolidation of the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, the Division for the Advancement of Women, the United Nations Development Fund for Women and the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, into a composite entity, taking into account the existing mandates.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official website] supported the resolution [press release], and he is to have the department operational [Reuters report] within a year.
Women's rights continue to be a controversial issue around the world. Last week, the president of Mali refused to sign a new law expanding women's rights after mass protests [JURIST reports] against it. Last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that an Afghan Shi'ite law, amended to remove a provision requiring a wife to submit to sex with her husband, still violates [JURIST reports] women's rights. In November, HRW reported in anticipation of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women [advocacy website] that female domestic workers still face abusive and exploitative treatment [JURIST report] throughout Asia and the Middle East.