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In a speech that took even insiders by surprise, UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, Stephen Lewis, announced yesterday that a high-level UN Panel will recommend the creation of a new UN Agency for Women. The recommendation by the High-Level Panel on UN Reform would pave the way for the proposal for a new agency to be submitted to the UN General Assembly, where approval is considered likely.

Lewis spoke at A New UN Agency for Women: Who Needs It?, an event co-sponsored by CGD and the International Center for Research on Women. (The proposal, transcript and video of the event will be available on CGD's website by Monday). Although Lewis choose his words carefully, he was clearly excited about the momentum he sees building for creation of this new UN agency. He said that the new UN Agency for Women, if approved in the form recommended by the high-level panel, would be headed by an Assistant Secretary General and have a first year budget of $200 million.

Although the announcement is exciting news for supporters of the proposal, many key questions remain: How will this UN agency actually make a difference for women at the grassroots level? Will this agency be given the resources and status that ensures it can be effective? How will this agency avoid the bureaucratic obstacles plaguing many other UN agencies? These are among the questions that advocates for this proposal will need to address in the coming weeks to ensure this idea lives up to its promise.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.