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 the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), to three staff members. The award is delivered for the first time and constitutes a milestone for ESCWA, which is integrating gender perspectives in its plans, policies and programmes.
At a ceremony held on Friday 12 December 2014 at the United Nations House in Beirut, Ms. 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.
Ms. Khalaf said that ESCWA must lead by example when working to shape regional policy in this priority area. She 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).
As ESCWA Senior UN-SWAP Coordinator, Ms. Mehrinaz El-Awady explained that the aim was to enable staff to better balance their work-life needs. She noted that this award was among several progressive steps recently taken, including the implementation of flexible working arrangements, mandatory gender training and systems to close the gender parity gap at ESCWA.