International Research and Training Institute For the Advancement of Women
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United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women
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UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

Since 1979, the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (UN-INSTRAW; Spanish: Instituto Internacional de Investigación y Capacitación de las Naciones Unidas para la Promoción de la Mujer ; French: Institut International de Recherche et de Formation pour la Promotion de la Femme) has been the leading United Nations body of the research, knowledge management and capacity development of gender equality and women's empowerment. The Institute's participatory and innovative approaches to research have produced gender disaggregated data and research results that have served to better inform the design of training and capacity-building programmes and to strengthen stakeholder capacity to address and effectively integrate gender perspectives in all policies, programmes and projects. UN-INSTRAW works in partnership with governments, the United Nations System, civil society and academia.


The Institute is a subsidiary of the United Nations General Assembly.

It was established upon recommendation of the World Conference on the International Women's Year 1975 in Mexico through the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and started operations in 1979. Since 1983, its main offices have been located in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. It focuses on the advancement of women through research and training and financed through contributions mostly given by governmental organizations or private donors.

Since its inception, UN-INSTRAW has emphasized the importance of articulating research, capacity-building and knowledge management in a continuous cycle of analysis, learning and action, so that participatory research results feed into knowledge management and the design of training and capacity-building programmes, as well as the formulation of policy. Through its applied research programmes, the Institute aims to make policies and programmes gender-responsive on the basis of concrete research results, the application of lessons learned, and the replication of best practices. This approach allows for flexibility in responding to both existing challenges and new and emerging issues.

Among its research activities over the years, UN-INSTRAW has developed conceptual frameworks and research methodologies for measuring and valuing women's household production and including these contributions into the system of national accounts; for tracking women's migration, the gender dimensions of remittances, and the impact of these on local and rural development; for looking at women's access to credit and water in Africa, Asia and Latin America; and for evaluating women's political participation in governance and political processes at the local, national, regional and international levels. Many of the studies conducted by UN-INSTRAW have highlighted the gendered effects of globalization in processes such as migration; the impact of structural adjustment policies on women's access to work, health and education; and violence against women as an obstacle to development and the achievement of international commitments such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) or the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In the past, UN-INSTRAW's training and capacity-building programmes have highlighted gender dimensions and women's participation in the collection and analysis of data and statistics, the use of new information and communications technologies (ICTs), environmental management including water supply and sanitation and new and renewable sources of energy; and the portrayal of women in the media. UN-INSTRAW's current work in training and capacity-building focuses on women's political participation and governance at the local level; women's participation in peace and security processes, including the full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325; and gender, migration and development issues.

In December 2003, INSTRAW initiated an institutional revitalization process designed to:

  • re-build trust in the Institute and its capacity to deliver;
  • generate recognition of the value of INSTRAW's research and training work both within the UN System and externally through programmes and products that are reliable, innovative, and opportune;
  • improve the financial situation of the Institute by securing core and extra-budgetary financial and other resources; and
  • establish cooperative partnerships with other UN entities in order to strengthen the Institute's position within the UN System and support system-wide coherence.

As a result of the implementation of this revitalization process and the UN-INSTRAW Strategic Framework 2004-2007, the Institute has achieved:

  • a significant and steady increase in both core and extra-budgetary funding, both of which are now at the highest levels they have reached since UN-INSTRAW was established;
  • the development of pioneering research, knowledge management and capacity-building tools in the Institute's three thematic areas (Gender, migration, and development; Gender, peace and security; and Governance and women's political participation);
  • a significant change in UN-INSTRAW's worldwide visibility and recognition through the formation of strategic alliances and an increased presence in the media worldwide; and
  • recognition and congratulation from UN Member States in ECOSOC, the General Assembly and other fora for the progress achieved since December 2003, including an ECOSOC Resolution (2007/37 of 27 July 2007) adopted by consensus, endorsing the UN-INSTRAW Strategic Framework 2008-2011, which carries forward the priorities established in 2004, consolidating the Institute's research and training programmes and enhancing its knowledge management capacity to ensure that research results have a concrete impact on policy and programme formulation and implementation.

In its work, UN-INSTRAW promotes an interactive dialogue between civil society, governments and international organizations through the creation of networks and the continual dissemination of gender-related information. The Institute has created networks, working groups and other communities of practitioners and stakeholders on various issues, including gender and security sector reform, ending violence against women, women's political participation, gender and remittances and other issues.

Mission and vision

UN-INSTRAW is the leading United Nations Institute of research, training and knowledge management in partnership with governments, the United Nations System, civil society and academia to achieve gender equality and women's empowerment. UN-INSTRAW is a leader in strategic and innovative actions that make a difference in women's lives.


UN-INSTRAW is a United Nations entity mandated to develop research and training programmes that contribute to the empowerment of women and the achievement of gender equality worldwide.

Through alliance building with UN Member States, international organizations, academia, civil society, the private sector and other actors, UN-INSTRAW:

  • undertakes action-oriented research from a gender perspective that has a concrete impact on policies, programmes and projects;
  • creates synergies for knowledge management and information exchange;
  • strengthens the capacities of key stakeholders to integrate gender perspectives in policies, programmes and projects; and
  • builds a sustainable, transparent and efficient institution.

In 2007, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) reaffirmed its commitment to eliminating gender inequalities by requesting the Institute to strengthen its research and training activities in accordance with its mandates and its Strategic Framework 2008-2011, which strengthens the Institute's commitment to act as a catalyst for action on gender - promoting applied research, facilitating information-sharing, and supporting capacity-building. The Institute's Executive Board in 2007 also charged the Director of UN-INSTRAW with the active pursuit of funding from UN Member States and other partners to enable the Institute to continue its work within the framework of the United Nations reform process and in order to make it a sustainable, sound and innovative organization that applies good governance.

UN-INSTRAW's approach to research and to knowledge management

Executive board

UN-INSTRAW is governed by an Executive Board composed of ten Member States. These Member States are elected by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations for a three-year term. They can be reelected for one further term. The Director of the Institute, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, a representative of the Host Country, Dominican Republic, and a representative of each of the regional commissions of the ECOSOC serve as ex-officio members of the Board.

The Executive Board meets at least once a year at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York in order to:

  • formulate principles, policies and guidelines for the work of the Institute;
  • consider and approve the work programme and budget of the Institute based on recommendations submitted to it by the Director;
  • make recommendations as appropriate on the operations of the Institute;
  • consider methods for enhancing the financial resources of the Institute with a view to ensuring the effectiveness of its future operations; and
  • report periodically to ECOSOC and, when appropriate, to the General Assembly.


Gender Peace and Security

Violence against women continues to be a global threat to human security. In today's armed conflicts, more than 70 percent of the casualties are civilians-most of whom are women and children. However, rather than portraying women universally as helpless victims of war and violence, the diverse roles they play in the events that lead to conflict and peace need recognition. Nevertheless, women remain underrepresented in decision-making positions in the area of conflict prevention and resolution, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. Sustainable peace is only viable when the rights of women are taken into account and women can equally participate at all levels of conflict resolution and peace processes.

The aim of UN-INSTRAW's Gender, Peace and Security (GPS) Programme is to promote gender equality and women's full and equal participation in the realms of peacekeeping, peace processes, post-conflict reconstruction and the reform of security institutions. The GPS Programme conducts applied research, facilitates information sharing and supports capacity-building in an effort to advance gender equality and the creation and implementation of more gender-responsive policies. The GPS Programme envisions an inclusive peace and human security for all women, men, girls and boys.

Gender, Migration and Development

Female migration has become a survival strategy for many poor and middle-income households in the global south. While the proportion of women migrants has not significantly increased in the last few decades (47% in 1960 compared to the current 49%), the "feminization of migration" more accurately describes the change in circumstances of women's migration, from dependent wives and daughters, to primary breadwinners and heads of transnational households. Gender, as a social construct that organizes relations between men and women, is central to the migratory process. Gendered social structures create varying migration opportunities for male and female migrants, differentiating their experiences in the destination countries and the relationships that they maintain with their countries of origin. The lack of gender disaggregated data and analysis on women's roles in migration and the resulting deficit of gender-sensitive migration and development policies translates into limitations that affect women's access to information and financial resources that would allow them to maximize the benefits of their labour as actors of migration.

Gender, Governance and Women's Political Participation

While the global percentage of parliamentary seats held by women reached a historic high of eighteen percent in 2008, the political representation of women in both the upper and lower levels of government is still significantly lower than that of men in most nations and regions of the world. Eighteen percent representation is also far from reaching the thirty percent considered to be the minimum percentage necessary to ensure a critical mass of women who can influence decision making processes and political agendas. Despite global, national and local initiatives and strategies, resistance still persists against the advancement of women in positions of power and decision making and in fields traditionally dominated by men.

Capacity Building

As a leading United Nations Institute devoted to research, training and knowledge management to achieve gender equality and women's empowerment, UN-INSTRAW works in partnership with governments, the United Nations System, civil society and academia to strengthen stakeholder capacity to address and effectively integrate gender issues in all policies, programmes and projects. For UN-INSTRAW, as well as for other UN agencies, capacity building involves an integral process of creating and building on existing capacities so that individuals, organizations and societies can put those capacities into subsequent action to achieve their development objectives.

UN-INSTRAW's capacity building programme aims to strengthen stakeholder capacity to address and effectively integrate gender issues in all policies, programmes and projects.


External links

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