UN Women

UN Women - United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women was established through a historic General Assembly resolution (A/RES/64/289) on 2 July 2010. This meant a consolidation of four distinct units within the UN system which focused on gender issues.

UN Women became fully operational from January 2011. Its very first executive director was former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet. UN Women is headquartered in New York.

Work of UN Women

UN Women funtions as a secretariat and provides normative and operational policy guidance. In addition, the entity must lead, coordinate and promote the accountability of the United Nations system in its work on gender equality and women empowerment.

Its headquarter is in New York but through close cooperation with regional, national and local organisations, UN Women has set up several offices all over the world. UN Women Sverige is a Swedish national committee that supports UN Women.

UN Women focuses on seven thematic areas:

  1. Ending violence against women
  2. Peace and security
  3. Women’s leadership and political participation
  4. Economic empowerment
  5. Governance and national planning
  6. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
  7. HIV and AIDS


The creation of UN Women came about as part of the UN reform agenda, bringing together resources and mandates for greater impact. It merges and builds on the important work of four previously distinct parts of the UN system, which focused exclusively on gender equality and women’s empowerment:

  1. UNIFEM - UN Development Fund for Women.
  2. DAW - The Division  for the Advancement of Women.
  3. OSAGI - The Office fo the Special Advisor on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women.
  4. INSTRAW - The International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women.

The new entity strengthens the role of the UN in advancing the status of women. It also gives a powerful voice for women within the UN system and at the global, regional and local level.


United Nations Development Fund for Women, UNIFEM is, since 2011, UN Women.

UNIFEM was founded in 1976 during the Women's Decade 1975-1985. It worked in close association with the UNDP to support women's empowerment and gender equality through its programme offices. It also linked with women's organizations, placing the advancement of women's human rights at the centre.

UNIFEM focused on three strategic areas:

  1. Strengthening women's economic security and rights
  2. Engendering governance and leadership
  3. Promoting women's rights and the elimination of violence against women.

UNIFEM raised the question of women in armed conflict and their contribution to peace processes, and played an active role in initiating a resolution in the Security Council resulting in Security Council resolution 1325 (2000). The resolution includes a gender perspective in armed conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

UNIFEM also initiated further assessment on this issue resulting in the report Women, War and Peace: The Independent Experts? Assessment on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Women and Women's Role in Peace-building.


United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, INSTRAW, was established in 1976 as a response to a request by the World Conference for the International Women's Year in Mexico City. From 2011, INSTRAW is incorporated into the UN Women.

INSTRAW was an autonomous body within the UN with the objective to stimulate and assist in the advancement of women in the development process. This was done through

  • research
  • training
  • collection of data.

Its outreaching efforts included close cooperation with regional and local organizations. The institute also utilized new information and communication technologies in raising awareness of women's human rights and empowerment.

INSTRAW used GAINS, the Gender Awareness Information and Networking System, to:

  • conducted research on gender equality
  • produced training material and programs
  • disseminated knowledge for the empowerment of women.

See also DagDok on Women's rights and Women and Sustainable Development.

UN Women and UNICEF staff participating in the IWD 2014 parade.
Photo: UN Women/Marni Gilbert

More on UN Women

  • UN Women. Information about its structure, programs and activities with links to full text documents and reports, as well as photos and videos.
  • Guiding Documents : UN Women. Several international agreements guide the work of UN Women:
    • UN Women Strategic Plan
    • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
    • Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (PFA)
    • UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security (2000)
    • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • UN Women digital library. Online publications.

Fulltext flagship publications

Related websites

More on UN and Women's rights

Since 1950, around 50 conventions relating to women's status have been drawn up, several by the Commission on the status of women:

  • ​United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in Swedish and in English.
  • International Instruments and Treaty Bodies. Information on legal instruments and other relevant international standards of particular importance to women's human rights and gender equality, including CEDAW and other treaty bodies.

The official documents from the UN Conferences on Women:

  1. World Conference on the International Women's Year (1975 : Mexico City). The report is issued as document E/CONF.66/34.
  2. World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women (1980 : Copenhagen) The report is issued as document A/CONF.94/35. and Corrigendum.
  3. World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace (1985 : Nairobi) and the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women. The report is issued as document A/CONF.116/28/Rev.1.
  4. United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women : Action for Equality, Development and Peace (1995 : Beijing). The report is issued as document A/CONF.177/20/Rev.1.

The General Assembly organized a special session to appraise and review the results of the Fourth World Conference on Women in June 2000:

The Swedish Foreign Ministry has after each conference published summaries of information about the positions of Sweden, as well as translations of the final documents in the series Aktstycken, published by the Swedish Foreign Ministry.

UN documents and publications in catalogues and databases

  • United Nations Digital Library offers UN documents and open access publications, UN voting data and speeches, UN maps, Content in 6+ languages. Replaces the traditional online catalogue UNBISnet.
  • UN iLibrary UN publications online covering different topics.
  • ODS full-text UN documents published from 1993 onward and scanned documents published between 1946 and 1993 in the official languages of the UN.
  • Daily list of documents (ODS). Documents published for the day, with full text links, can be found in the United Nations full text database ODS.
  • UNBIS Thesaurus a multilingual database of the controlled vocabulary used to describe UN documents.
  • Index to proceedings is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the major UN organs. The index includes:
    • a list of all documents
    • a comprehensive subject index
    • an index to speeches
    • a voting chart of resolutions
  • United Nations Documents Index (United Nations Digital Library) References to all documents by subject area are published. A collection of indexes is held by the Dag Hammarskjöld and Law Library, Uppsala, and the Libraries at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.
UN Documents available online
Last modified: 2023-04-03