United Nations Volunteers
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme was established by the UN General Assembly in 1970 and is administered by UNDP. Free will, commitment, engagement and solidarity are the foundation of volunteerism. Volunteerism serves the cause of peace and development by enhancing opportunities for participation by all, particularly women. Since the start of its operations, UNV has supported the UN system by mobilizing volunteers for peace and development all over the world. More than 6.500 UN Volunteers served in 2017. In its resolution 70/129 of December 2015, the UN General Assembly reaffirmed that volunteerism can be a powerful and cross-cutting means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Policy frameworkUNV works within the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) framework for Empowerment and Equality (UNDP, 2008) which is based on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (as well as other human rights treaties) to promote equality, peace and development.
Areas of Focus
In partnership with governments, civil society organizations and UN agencies, funds and programmes, UNV contributes to gender equality by raising awareness as well as the prevention and elimination of violence against women through advocacy, integration and mobilization of volunteers.
UNV captures sex-disaggregated data.
There is increasing momentum to address the evidence gap on the impact and effectiveness of volunteerism for sustainable development. The State of the World’s Volunteerism Report (SWVR) is UNV’s flagship publication, produced every 3 years. The SWVR 2018 considers how volunteerism and community resilience interact across diverse contexts. It adds to the evidence on inclusive, citizen-led approaches to resilience building – including from a gender lense. It examines how wider actors can build from communities’ self-organization in a complementary way, nurturing the most beneficial characteristics of volunteerism while mitigating against potential harms to the most vulnerable, including women and girls.
UN Volunteers are an important component of capacity on the ground in the global pursuit of gender equality. The gender ratio of UN Volunteers improved from 43% female in 2015 to 47% female in 2017.
As per its Strategic Framework 2018-21, UNV supports members states in developing policies that promote volunteerism and volunteer action. Emphasis is put on mainstreaming gender into these policies and legislation.
UNV supports the deployment of UN Volunteers in conflict and post-conflict contexts, including peacekeeping missions. There, the UN Volunteers support the UN mandate implementation on the ground, including addressing sexual violence.
In all three Peacebuilding Fund’s Gender Promotion Initiatives, the UN Peacebuilding Support Office, UN-Women, and UN Volunteers have supported gender-responsive peacebuilding programming.
As per its Strategic Framework 2018-21, UNV supports members states in developing legislation that promote volunteerism and volunteer action. Emphasis is put on mainstreaming gender into these policies and legislation.
UN Volunteers support a wide-range of UN efforts worldwide to build capacity of women and girls, as well as of communities on gender-related issues. For example, UN Volunteers assigned to UN Women in Quetta, Pakistan, launched a radio project which engaged marginalized women and youth in the establishment of community-based radio programmes for entertainment, information and education.
In 2017, UN Volunteers hosted by UN Women supported communications and public advocacy of gender equality among communities.
In Togo, the UNV-implemented project Voices Against Violence provided interactive, youth-centred ways for people to talk and learn about relationships and gender equity in a safe and inclusive environment. A total of 500 national volunteer teachers were trained in the principles of respectful and non-violent behaviour. They then delivered the programme in their classes and their communities – multiplying the power of the project by spreading the curriculum to thousands of young Togolese.
Partners for Prevention (P4P) was a UNDP, UNFP, UNV and UN Women regional joint programme for the prevention of violence against women and girls in Asia and the Pacific. It focused on the prevention interventions, capacity development and policy advocacy by working on the ground with local volunteers. Volunteers acted as a bridge between the UN, governments and national and regional partners. In 2017, UN Volunteers served as project coordinators with P4P in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Viet Nam.
In Afghanistan, UNV supports the Youth-Mullah Gender Volunteer Caravans, through which young Afghan men and women are crafting campaigns and visiting communities in Herat and Balkh provinces to spread their messages of gender equality.