Background and justification

UN Women, grounded in the vision of equality enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, works for the elimination of discrimination against women and girls, the empowerment of women, and the achievement of equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, humanitarian action and peace and security. Placing women’s rights at the centre of all its efforts, UN Women will lead and coordinate the United Nations system’s efforts to ensure that commitments on gender equality and gender mainstreaming translate into action throughout the world. It will provide strong and coherent leadership in support of Member States’ priorities and efforts, while building effective partnerships with civil society and other relevant actors.

Violence against women is an egregious, global and persistent manifestation of the systemic power of men over women.  Its resilience over time and place testifies to the insidious tolerance of such abuse. All such violence, abuse and exploitation impede women’s enjoyment of human rights and deny dignity, autonomy and equality. The ending of such violence is a core area of work in UN Women’s 2018-21 Strategic Plan.

UN Women pays tribute to the courage of women across the world who have over many decades of activism, advocacy and struggle, placed violence against them on the public policy agenda. Their imagination of, and calls for, a world without violence has informed the SDG5 commitment to eliminate all such violence.  The CEDAW committee has stated that violence against women constitutes sex discrimination. It is thus prohibited under international law and states have duties to end it. The human rights discourse has named sexual violence as an abuse of human rights.

In 2017, the #MeToo wave of denouncement and notice given by women against sexual harassers sent shock waves around the world.  It connected with many other global agitations to end violence and to press for the end of impunity for it, and it raised hopes that a turning point had been reached in the tolerance and enabling of sexual abusers. The calling out of abusers and the demand for accountability reached into the aid sector and the United Nations. In response, the Secretary General established a High Level Task Force (HLTF) to review existing policies and practices and make recommendations for improvement. It is led by the UN Under Secretary-General for Management.

In March 2018 the Executive Director of UN Women created a special assignment of Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson on Sexual Harassment and other forms of discrimination. The role was established to place women’s experiences at the heart of work against sexual harassment and to bring survivor-focused approaches to the fore. The Executive Coordinator’s post serves to link UN Women with the #MeToo and #AidToo activists, as well as others taking forward global work to end violence against women.  It seeks to provide support and amplify the voices of those in the women’s movement seeking justice and an end to sexual harassment and all forms of sexual assault of women. It works with member states to bring promising practices to bear and support efforts to end such aggression. In particular, the position seeks to coordinate internal UN Women’s efforts towards decisive action on this pressing issue and lead UN Women externally as it engages with the UN system’s review of policies and practices on sexual harassment.


In this work, UN Women recognises that the links between the various forms of violence against women form a continuum, understands these as sex and gender-based discrimination, acknowledges the gendered nature of the distribution of power, its sexualised manifestations, and the need to ensure justice and dignity for women at home and in the world, including in the world of work.

Duties and Responsibilities

The Special Assistant to the Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson on Sexual Harassment and Other Forms of Discrimination will provide timely analytical information, coherent policy advice and will have a proven ability to work and act under pressure and with discretion in a sensitive and challenging environment. He/She has to have excellent communication and organization skills to manage a varied agenda and to support a senior colleague with a spokesperson brief.

Within the relevant delegated authority, the Special Assistant will be responsible for the following duties:

  • Support the Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson in the performance of her functions, including by the provision of sound policy inputs on issues as appropriate, to facilitate her internal and external representation
  • Support the Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson in her interactions with other UN entities by working closely with staff of senior officials of those entities;
  • Undertake research with regard to developments, trends and promising practices with regard to addressing sexual harassment and assault, particularly in the world of work.
  • Draft press releases and statements for the Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson public facing work and liaise with Communications colleagues within UN Women and UN Women’s Executive Director’s speechwriting team
  • Provide assistance in the preparation of materials for the launch of forthcoming report on promising practice with regard to sexual harassment and ongoing advocacy efforts,
  • Manage the Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson’s agenda; evaluating and keeping track of important events, meetings and advising her of priorities and critical meetings requiring her presence and making necessary arrangements for participation including the preparation of papers, policies, etc.;
  • Prepare outline and/or draft policy papers, speeches and talking points for the Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson. Prepare briefing folders and research for all background papers that are necessary for the Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson’s meetings. Provide editorial assistance by drafting, clearing and editing speeches, reports and correspondence;
  • Review all documentation presented to the Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson for signature to ensure accuracy and conformity with UN Women’s financial and administrative rules and regulations;
  • Assist in the follow-up to meetings, including the preparation of relevant notes and briefing to staff, as appropriate;
  • Assist in meeting deadlines related to organizational reports;
  • Provide support to the preparation of retreats, trainings and workshops including drafting agenda and minutes, ensuring the timely submission and circulation of relevant background documents and reports;
  • Ensure the timely follow-up to the requests and decisions of the Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson, including the effective dissemination of pertinent information to senior management and other relevant staff at Headquarters and in other offices;
  • Work alongside the Executive Associate to monitor and track the project’s budget and expenditure.
  • Manage the planning and organization of the Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson’s official travel, including the timely preparation of official travel files and background documents by the relevant divisions and units as well as prepare or ensure the preparation of official travel reports;
  • Perform other official duties and special assignments which may be requested by the Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson.


Core values / Guiding principles:


  • Demonstrating consistency in upholding and promoting the values of UN Women in actions and decisions, in line with the UN Code of Conduct.

Cultural Sensitivity / Valuing diversity:

  • Demonstrating an appreciation of the multicultural nature of the organization and the diversity of its staff. Demonstrating an international outlook, appreciating differences in values and learning from cultural diversity.

Core Competencies:

Ethics and Values:

  • Demonstrating / Safeguarding Ethics and Integrity.

Organizational Awareness:

  • Demonstrate corporate knowledge and sound judgment.

Developing and Empowering People / Coaching and Mentoring:

  • Self-development, initiative-taking.

Working in Teams:

  • Acting as a team player and facilitating team work.

Communicating Information and Ideas:

  • Facilitating and encouraging open communication in the team, communicating effectively.

Self-management and Emotional intelligence:

  • Creating synergies through self-control.

Conflict Management / Negotiating and Resolving Disagreements:

  • Managing conflict.

Knowledge Sharing / Continuous Learning:

  • Learning and sharing knowledge and encourage the learning of others.

Appropriate and Transparent Decision Making:

  • Informed and transparent decision making.

Functional Competencies:

  • Substantive knowledge of gender equality and women's empowerment
  • Technical knowledge in the field of violence against women and girls and/or sexual harassment highly desirable.
  • Good planning, goal-setting and prioritization;
  • Strong communication skills, both written and oral;
  • Excellent drafting skills with the ability to edit and clear reports, press releases/statements, speeches and correspondence;
  • Strong analytical and problem solving skills;
  • Strong inter-personal skills, communicate effectively with staff at all level of the organization;
  • Demonstrate sensitivity, tact and diplomacy, comfortable with handling external relationships at all level;
  • Work in a highly pressured environment;
  • Strong sense of responsibility, confidentiality and accountability.

Required Skills and Experience


  • Master’s degree (or equivalent) in one of the following disciplines: women’s studies/gender studies, international development, human rights, law, social sciences, political science, international relations


  • 5 years of progressively varied responsible experience in international development organizations preferably in the United Nations system and its organizations and preferably focused on ending violence against women
  • Experience working in roles to prevent and address sexual harassment is an asset


  • Written and oral proficiency in English is required;

·   Knowledge of another UN working language is desirable.