Vienna Meeting of International Gender Champions

On 13 July 2023, the Vienna Hub held its Biannual Champions meeting, chaired by H.E. Ms. Barbara Žvokelj, the Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia to the United Nations in Vienna.

The meeting saw fifteen Champions and nine Observers representing the heads of the Permanent Missions, and international and Civil Society Organizations based in Vienna registering to participate in the event. The Champions were joined by around 30 Focal Points from the IGC Vienna hub, who are tasked with supporting the Champions in implementing their personal commitments. The event was an opportunity for the Champions to provide updates on their personal commitments. Additionally, the Champions and Observers addressed two topical thematic topics: the Climate Gender Nexus and Men’s Engagement in promoting gender equality.

Opening the event, H.E. Žvokelj acknowledged that the IGC membership (of 57 Champions) is currently gender-balanced, with 49 per cent female champions and 51 per cent male champions. She reiterated the importance of ensuring that discussions on gender equality and the empowerment of women are not conversations among women but by all genders. She welcomed the 10 new Champions who had joined the IGC Vienna Hub in 2023; including the heads of the Permanent Representations of Australia, Chile, Iceland, Norway, Peru, the United States Mission to the OSCE, as well as the heads of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), International Cultural Diversity Organization (ICDO) and Wassenaar Arrangement which are based in Vienna.

Several Champions joined the meeting virtually from partner IGC hubs, namely Geneva and Nairobi. Mr. Martin Chungong, Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and Chair of the IGC Global Board—delivered the keynote speech. He illustrated the three strategic commitments of the IGC Global Board: (i) promoting the Gender-Based Violence Pledge and a zero tolerance stance towards any form of sexist attitudes or behaviors; (ii) strengthening the climate-gender nexus; and (iii) diversifying the IGC network. He concluded by emphasizing the importance of adhering to the pledge in order to act as authentic role models for gender equality.

H.E. Mr. Paul Bekkers, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, WTO, and other international organizations in Geneva emphasized the critical role of men in advancing gender equality commitments and aspirations. Presenting the example of the “Men Engage” initiative held in Geneva, he noted the importance of creating an inclusive environment where men can participate proactively and contribute to gender equality.

Highlighting the unequal impact of climate change on women and men, Mr. Luther Bois Anukur, Regional Director, Eastern and Southern Africa, International Union for Conservation of Nature stressed the importance of (i) expanding the opportunities for women with diverse backgrounds to be heard; (ii) investing in gender-responsive climate change policies; and (iii) ensuring the inclusion of the climate-gender nexus in gender strategies as a priority. 

Following the keynote segment, Champions had an opportunity to exchange and provide updates on their personal commitments and gender-related priorities going forward. The interventions covered a range of themes and issues, such as the relevance of groups on gender equality, such as the IGC, in improving coordination and multilateralism and the importance of recognizing that women are the ones most impacted by climate change.

In closing, the Chair emphasized the importance of aligning the activities of the IGC to other gender-related initiatives in Vienna. 

She thanked H.E. Mr. Alejandro Solano Ortiz, Ambassador of Costa Rica who was concluding his term in Vienna, for his leadership and stewardship of the Troika group of Member States, with an oversight function for the IGC Vienna hub—together with Permanent Representatives of the Republic of Slovenia and the United States of America.

She also informed that the Coordination function will be assumed by UNIDO until the end of this year, until a more permanent solution is identified and thanked the Gender Team in the UNOV/UNODC, Office of the Executive Director which had assumed the coordination function from the beginning of 2023.

The meeting was closed by the projection of the video “Harassment has no place at our events”.