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WomenWatch is a central gateway to information and resources on the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women throughout the United Nations system, including the United Nations Secretariat, regional commissions, funds, programmes, specialized agencies and academic and research institutions. It is a joint United Nations project created in March 1997 to provide Internet space for global gender equality issues and to support implementation of the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action. Since 1997 the intergovernmental mandate has expanded, for example through the outcome document of the Twenty-third special session of the General Assembly in June 2000 and Security Council resolution 1325 of October 2000. The website now also provides information on the outcomes of, as well as efforts to incorporate gender perspectives into follow-up to global conferences.
WomenWatch is an inter-agency website and a good practice example of United Nations coordination and collaboration. It was founded by the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW). Funding for WomenWatch was provided by DFID, The United Nations Foundation, DAW, UNIFEM, ILO, UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF and World Bank. WomenWatch is managed by the Interagency Network on Women and Gender Equality (IANWGE), whose website can also be found on WomenWatch. The Division for the Advancement of Women is the Task Manager. The website is supervised by a voluntary Management Committee which is comprised of a Policy Advisory Group (currently comprised of the Gender Focal Points in DPI, FAO, ILO, ITU, the Regional Commissions Office, UNDP, UNFPA, UNIFEM, INSTRAW and DAW) which meets once a year and a working level Management Group which works with the Division for the Advancement of Women on regular maintenance and improvement of the website. Currently funding is provided by DAW, FAO, ILO, UNDP, UNFPA, WFP, WIPO and World Bank.
An immediate objective of the WomenWatch project is to consolidate the involvement of all UN entities in the management and maintenance of the website. WomenWatch gives direct access to all websites of members of the interagency network. It should be noted that some UN entities have large websites and some have more than one website. Others have limited webpages or individual documents posted.
Recent developments include the introduction of a directory of resources to provide access to specific information on selected topics - such as the Critical Areas of Concern from the Platform for Action or other cross-cutting or topical issues, including gender mainstreaming, etc. The directory, which will be further expanded, provides links to webpages of UN entities and/or to individual documents. A further objective is to make the website as multi-lingual as possible, i.e. available in all UN official working languages, English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Russian.
In the long term there will also be an increased focus on contacts and partnerships with other organizations and networks outside the United Nations. Links will also be made, at a later date, to the websites of national machineries for the advancement of women, as well as to NGO websites.