Gender equality and women and girls' empowerment have been part of international policy frameworks and treaties since the foundation of the United Nation. Gender equality is at the heart of human rights and United Nations values, as enshrined in the Organization’s founding Charter. Gender equality was made part of international human rights law by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948. The UDHR specifically recognized that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and that “everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, … birth or other status.”
Gender equality and women and girls' rights were subsequently promoted in independent commitments such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979) which is dedicated to the realization of women’s human rights, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) produced a progressive blueprint for advancing women’s rights, and the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (WPS) which first made it on to the Security Council's agenda in 2000. Security Council Resolution 1325 on WPS and subsequent resolutions, call for the increased participation of women and the incorporation of gender perspectives in all UN peace and security efforts (including participation of women in decision-making and peace processes, gender perspectives in training and peacekeeping and gender mainstreaming in UN reporting systems). The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provided additional momentum as Member States made gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG5), and also acknowledged their crucial contribution to progress across all the SDGs. This has been further enhanced by the Secretary-General's reform efforts where gender equality and the empowerment of women are at the core.
Gender inequality is a human rights concern and UNODC recognizes that promoting non-discrimination and equality is a matter of human rights—as a condition for social justice and a fundamental prerequisite for achieving equality, as well as sustainable development and peace. A human rights-based approach requires that human rights obligations and principles to be integrated into all aspects of UNODC’s mandated areas of work, including by ensuring the participation and inclusion of disadvantaged and marginalized populations.
Through its Global Programme on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, UNODC supports the mainstreaming of intersectional gender equality into its normative, operational and research work. The Gender Team at the United Nations Office Vienna and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNOV/UNODC) was established in the Director-General/Executive Director’s Office in 2017 to support, monitor and report on the implementation of the United Nations Office at Vienna/United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Strategy for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (2022–2026). The Gender Strategy is a commitment and call to transformative action and the implementation will strengthen our support to Member States in addressing the impact of illicit drugs, organized crime, terrorism and corruption on the whole of society, while delivering results that mainstream gender and empower women and girls across our programmes and activities.