Strategies of Feminist Bureaucrats: United Nations Experiences


  • Joanne Sandler,

    1. Independent consultant focused on women's human rights and organisational change strategies. She is a Senior Associate of Gender at Work and she is a visiting fellow at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at The Graduate Center, City University of New York.
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  • Aruna Rao,

    1. Co-founder and Executive Director of Gender at Work an international collaborative that strengthens organisations to build cultures of equality and social justice, with a particular focus on gender equality.
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  • Rosalind Eyben

    1. Fellow in the Participation, Power and Social Change Team at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.
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This paper explores the challenges and opportunities for feminists working as women's rights and gender equality specialists in the United Nations as analysed from a practitioner perspective. Part 1 by Joanne Sandler analyses the experience of feminists struggling with the institutional sexism of the UN bureaucratic machine and shows how this played out in the difficult but ultimately successful negotiations around the creation of UN Women. In Part 2, Aruna Rao describes how cross-agency UN Gender Theme Groups worked together through a process of reflexive inquiry to strengthen the gender equality programming of three UN Country Teams, respectively in Morocco, Albania and Nepal.