IAEA Board of Governors Meeting
Statement by HE Dr Brendon Hammer, Resident Representative of Australia to the IAEA
Agenda Item 11 (AOB): Statement on behalf of the Group of Friends for Women in Nuclear
7 June 2018
Thank you, Chair.
Australia – as Co-Chair – is pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of Friends for Women in Nuclear.
As a group, we share the common objective of reaching parity in the representation of women in the IAEA Secretariat.
This June Board meeting marks one year since the establishment of the Group, which today comprises 23 members.
I am happy to report that our membership now includes Austria, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, the Slovak Republic, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
At the Group of Friends’ most recent meeting – hosted on 29 May by Co-Chair Mexico, Members highlighted some of the initiatives underway – or already achieved – in taking forward our objectives.
Among these – for example – was recognition of the value of a side-event held during the NPT Preparatory Committee in Geneva in April to take forward the discourse on gender equality objectives.
Hosted by Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden and Australia – in association with the Group of Friends for Women in Nuclear – the event highlighted the importance of diversity and gender parity to strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
At the 29 May meeting of the Group, we also discussed the outcomes and recommendations of the recent review by the Office of Internal Oversight Services on gender mainstreaming in the Agency.
Let me first say on this matter that the Group welcomes the fact that the Agency had the OIOS conduct this review. We consider this a welcome demonstration that the Agency is committed to transparency and continual improvement – including on gender issues.
The group also welcomes the Audit’s findings that the IAEA’s Gender Equality Policy is in line with the broader UN system’s policies and goals.
At the same time, however, the Group was quite concerned by several of the Audit’s other findings including that – at the current pace of change – it will take at least 20 more years to achieve gender parity in the Agency. And that the Agency is roughly 10 years behind many other member agencies of the UN family in the way that it addresses gender mainstreaming in its programming.
The Group was also concerned by the Audit’s finding that the high-level commitment to gender equality expressed by the Director General and the senior leadership of the Agency had not translated into many concrete actions to promote gender outcomes within the Agency.
In this regard, the Director General’s undertaking at this Board meeting to reach gender parity in his senior management team by 2021 and the concrete step toward this through the appointment of Ms Najat Moktar to the role of Deputy Director General, Nuclear Science and Applications are most welcome.
We look forward to further progress toward this objective.
The Group of Friends for Women in Nuclear has been established in part to ensure that a regular channel of communication exists between Member States and the IAEA on questions of gender, and we are committed to use this to support the Agency in identifying and overcoming barriers to the recruitment and advancement of women in the Agency.
Given these goals, we greatly appreciate, and value, the fact that the Agency regularly participates in the work, meetings and consultations of the Group.
On this basis the Group considers itself well placed to work with the Agency to address various areas of the Audit’s recommendations and to support associated responses and efforts by the Agency to better promote gender equality.
For example, work to support the gender focal point network within the Agency has already been identified as one area where the Group can play a constructive and supportive role.
The Group of Friends for Women in Nuclear acknowledges that the Agency continues to take active steps to promote efforts toward gender equality in the IAEA. In the light of the Audit report we encourage the Agency to continue on this path, and to redouble its efforts.
To this end we note that – as of 9 April 2018 – the Agency’s Division of Information Technology achieved gender parity among its P4 and P5 management team. This happened through implementation of a proactive outreach and sourcing strategy that increased the visibility of vacancies, and ensured qualified female applicants were duly considered.
This example shows that even in a field that is often dominated by men, achieving gender parity is possible.
Reaching gender parity at the IAEA is an important objective on equity grounds alone. But the Group also wishes to emphasise the benefits that gender parity can bring in organisational efficiency and effectiveness.
It is today widely recognised that achieving gender equality and parity is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do - because it has been shown to improve overall efficiency and quality of outputs in organisations of all kinds.
The Group of Friends looks forward to continuing its work with the Agency in pursuit of our shared objective.