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cedaw.jpgThe United Nations has voted to create an agency dedicated to women’s rights, IPS reports.

The vote by the 192-member general assembly of the UN is a landmark decision, but if you’re a bit vague on your understanding of how the UN works and why this is important, IPS does a great job of explaining:

Currently, there are four existing women’s U.N. entities in the world body: the U.N. Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM); the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues; the U.N. Division for the Advancement of Women; and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW).

But none of them is as politically powerful and financially stable as full-fledged U.N. agencies.

When the new women’s agency is created, perhaps by the middle of next year, it will be headed by an under-secretary-general (USG), the third highest ranking position in the U.N. system, after the secretary-general and the deputy secretary-general.

The four existing women’s entities are not headed by USGs, while all agencies such as the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) and the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are.

The resolution adopted Monday “strongly supports the consolidation” of the four bodies currently dealing with women “into a composite entity, taking into account the existing mandates”.

The Assembly also requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to produce a comprehensive proposal specifying details of the proposed composite entity; an organsational chart; funding for the new body; and the composition of the executive board to oversee its operational activities.