United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)

South-South and Triangular Cooperation Featured Partner

About UN Women

UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide

In line with its own Strategic Plan and several international agreements, including the 2030 Agenda and the Beijing Platform for Action, UN Women supports South-South and triangular cooperation to propel positive changes, innovations, new partnerships and significantly larger pools of finance. All efforts are geared toward achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, which are fundamental to all 17 of the Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals.

As a leading global entity for gender equality and women’s empowerment, UN Women has a proven record of advancing meaningful changes on the ground. It operates through a wide collaborative network of UN and non-UN bodies including Civil Society Organisations with a presence in every region of the world.

To build on the current surge in demand for South-South and triangular cooperation, and channel it into accelerated action for gender equality and women’s empowerment, UN Women pursues several core strategies across its normative, programmatic, advocacy and coordination efforts.

Working with key UN entities and development partners, UN Women shares knowledge and good practices across countries and regions, helping governments and other South-South and triangular cooperation initiatives in adopting effective gender-responsive approaches

Assistance in cultivating institutional mechanisms, capacities, and skills supports better management, implementation and monitoring of South-South and triangular cooperation, including in key areas not traditionally viewed through a gender lens. Expanded cooperation with other UN agencies and stakeholders harnesses the full potential of partnership, with a special emphasis on long-term cooperation with countries playing leadership roles in South-South and triangular cooperation. Systematic canvassing and sharing of strategies and different funding modalities support the broader uptake of South-South and triangular cooperation and other innovative forms of collaboration.

UN Women and South-South Cooperation

UN Women’s blended approach to South-South and triangular cooperation entails the use of electronic platforms, virtual learning spaces, exchange visits, dialogues, global and regional communities of practice, peer-to-peer education and training-of-trainers, among other strategies. Through these, UN Women has achieved several strategic and thematic results.

In 2021, 40% of field offices supported South-South and triangular cooperation initiatives, including around the twentieth anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325. In South Africa, UN-Women collaborated with the Embassy of Ireland and the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders to study COVID-19 impacts on women peacebuilders in Colombia, Ireland, South Africa, and Uganda

In 2016, low-cost, targeted knowledge exchange helped national partners in a number of countries develop gender-responsive budgeting (GRB). This contributed to the revision of the Budget Law in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, allowing sectoral ministries and national mechanisms to invest directly in the national gender equality agenda. As a follow-up to mutual and cross-regional south-south support initiatives, countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region formally committed to applying gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) in their respective financial and budget systems.

An East-East exchange initiative for the experts from Ministries of Finance from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Moldova and Ukraine developed an informal forum for East European countries to articulate institutional opportunities & challenges in gender mainstreaming in fiscal policies. In 2020, due to UN Women’s capacity-building work, fifteen national women’s machineries and 171 women’s organizations gained skills to make the case for gender-responsive budgets. UN Women used its convening power to bring together 60 women from 15 states engaged in peacebuilding and refugee responses in Europe and Central Asia, and the Arab States. They galvanized the attention of government and aid agency representatives to the needs of women and girls ‘on the move’ through a joint public statement at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit. This also positioned UN-Women to follow-up on the agreed WHS agenda in support of inclusive humanitarian action.
An exchange of knowledge and good practices among countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and Asia and the Pacific guided new insights on incorporating international human rights standards in legislation. In Jamaica, this resulted in the ratification of Convention 189 on labour standards for domestic workers. Twenty-five countries adjusted key guidance documents on preventing and responding to gender-based violence. Sharefairs organized by UN Women in East and Southern Africa have brought together researchers, policymakers, development agencies, regional bodies, civil society organizations, business leaders, investors, and others to discuss innovations and good practices and agree on methods to support gender equality and women’s empowerment solutions in agriculture and extractive industries.
In Southeast Asia, UN Women has brought together government representatives from Ministries of Gender, Finance, Judiciary CSOs and Gender equality advocates/experts from the north and the south across its DRF areas. It is estimated that these dialogues/capacity development initiatives brought together over 500 experts at the regional level in 2015-16.

What UN Women can offer

Given UN Women’s triple mandate [Normative, Programmatic, and UN System Coordination], its wide spectrum of cross-regional capacity development and knowledge exchange work, the entity is increasingly playing an expansive south-south and triangular cooperation role. Some of the most important aspects can be identified below:

Developing global knowledge and a database

This will entail intensifying the collection, analysis and dissemination of better data and knowledge about the patterns, composition and impact of South-South and triangular cooperation — the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘how’ and ‘how well’. It will operate within a framework that is demand-driven and led by Member States. A systematic sharing of data, analyses and information at regional and global levels could facilitate programmes at the country level.

Capacity Development

UN Women will partner with governments, intergovernmental bodies, civil society organizations, think tanks and the private sector to boost capacities to identify, plan, manage, monitor and evaluate South-South and triangular cooperation. A particular focus will be on least developed countries and small island developing states seeking to better coordinate and benefit from diverse assistance modalities.

Strengthening intra-regional, cross-regional and cross-practice work

Working across programming, policy and operational priorities, UN Women will help policymakers, practitioners and experts in the global South as well as the North access thematic and cross-sectoral knowledge on deploying modes of South-South and triangular cooperation at the country, regional, and global levels.

‘Brokering’ and advisory services

To deepen and broaden the range of inclusive development and gender-responsive solutions sourced through South-South and triangular cooperation, UN Women will tap its global network of country and regional offices. A steady flow of solutions and ‘investment-ready’ proposals will build on work with national, regional and other partners to develop these or source them globally. Advisory services will help state and non-state actors tailor solutions to specific needs and circumstances, link them to national SDG-related priorities, meet domestic and international safeguards and standards, and forge mutually beneficial South-South and triangular cooperation agreements. On request, UN Women will anchor some solutions in its own regional and country programmes.

Featured Publications

In Focus: South-South Cooperation – Extract from UN Women Fund for Gender Equality’s Annual Report 2018-2019

Action kit: Engaging Parliaments in Gender Responsive Budgeting 2022

Global Toolkit: Intersectionality Resource Guide and Toolkit 2022

COVID-19 and fiscal policy: Applying gender-responsive budgeting in support and recovery 2021

Making South-South and Triangular Cooperation Work for Gender Equality

 A.H. Monjurul Kabir
Global Focal Point for South-South & Triangular Cooperation, UN Women