Update as of May 2017
I wanted to give you an update on all that’s been going on during the past month or so.
The work of UN-GLOBE is about changing minds and attitudes within the UN, on parental leave, on mobility, on peoples of diverse sexual or gender identities, or expressions… And I can say that on this front, we have managed to see concrete progress.
The SG’s draft gender parity strategy for the UN system, which aims to have gender parity at all job levels in the near future, includes UN-GLOBE’s ideas on parental leave.
Some of the recommended actions are:
- Substitute maternity/paternity/adoption leave policies with one parental leave policy where parental leave (maternity, paternity, adoption and surrogacy) is equal in length, provided that specific pre- and post-delivery needs of the birth parent are covered additionally (including insurance and leave).
- Develop a policy for the sharing in either direction of parental leave where both parents are in the common system
These are UN-GLOBE proposals that were made back in July 2015, and which we pitched left and right to directors of human resources two years ago, and to staff federations (who copied and pasted our proposals).
So we are managing to change the conversation. Where we have failed, unfortunately, is to make the gender parity strategy more inclusive of trans, gender non-conforming, and non-gendered persons. This is a setback given that we reached out to the working group drafting the SG’s strategy. Now that it will be issued shortly, UN-GLOBE will engage in extensive advocacy to make our point that gender parity should go beyond the binary, that the vision it should expose is one that is inclusive of people of diverse gender identities.
On another front, IDAHOT 2017 is coming up, marked on May 17 around the world.
UN-GLOBE has already sent letters to the heads of all UN organizations. This year we are asking not only for a statement, but also for each organization to hold an event to mark the Day, or to carry out a symbolic act like flying the rainbow flag at Headquarters. Post-IDAHOT 2017, I’ll let you know what has been done.
In terms of UN-GLOBE, we have some fantastic events planned for IDAHOT 2017.
In Geneva, we are working with the Director-General of the UN Office in Geneva (UNOG) to organize a training for senior leaders on sexual orientation and gender identity. The one-hour training will be similar to the one we did in New York, which the Executive Director of UN Women attended, among others.
We will share more details after, but it will have high-level participation.
In Nairobi, as I updated you earlier, we are really trying to change minds and attitudes there within the UN office in Nairobi when it comes to peoples and issues of diverse sexual and gender identities. While I’m there during the week of May 22nd, I plan to meet with the Director-General of the UN Office in Nairobi, the head of UNEP, the head of UN-Habitat, and the Resident Coordinator.
We are also planning trainings for all these UN senior leaders on sexual orientation and gender identity.
This would mean that we would have conducted trainings for senior leaders in New York, Geneva, and Nairobi.
We’ll push for trainings in other duty stations as well, including Bangkok and peacekeeping missions.
Exciting events are also in the works in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Finally, in Nairobi, I’m very excited to announce that we will be organizing a panel discussion featuring local LGBTI activists working for equality in Kenya. They will speak about their work, and the realities faced by LGBTI people there to a UN audience. This will be the first time something like this is done in the UN office in Nairobi, and I look forward to contributing to a much needed conversation on these issues within the UN.
This panel discussion will be broadcast live and then archived in our website. I urge all of you to watch it as it will be a fascinating conversation.
The UN becomes a stronger advocate for people of diverse sexual or gender identities everywhere once it itself has internalized these issues.
I would like to make one last plead for LGBTI staff members in Nairobi to agree to participate in this panel discussion. We need one or two voices from the inside who can make the link between the world outside the UN, and the world inside. Please consider participating. E-mail me at email@example.com to further discuss.
Hyung Hak Nam