Public Diplomacy and Global Communication 2014c

UN Women and their use of Public Diplomacy

This Blog post is going to examine how the United Nations uses public diplomacy as a means of influencing women’s issues and helping raising awareness in gender equality. This post is not going to explain United Nations as a non-governmental organisation, but it is going to go through what a specific branch of the UN – UN Women – is, what it does and how it uses public diplomacy.

Nicholas Cull is an American director of Masters program of Public Diplomacy and a professor at University of Southern California. One can find more information about him and his latest publications here. He argues that there is five components to public diplomacy which are 1. Listening 2. Advocacy 3. Cultural Diplomacy 4. Exchange and 5. International broadcasting.1 This post is going to examine how these five components are being used by the United Nations in their actions on empowering women.

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women was first established in July 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly. It is more commonly known as UN Women. It became it’s own branch in the United Nations as they were going through a reformation. They decided to combine previously “independent” parts of the UN system to become one coherent and unified sector within the big picture. These departments were

  • Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW)
  • International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW)
  • Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI)
  • United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

As they unified their forces, their main role is to provide technical and financial help for member states, give support for inter-governmental bodies, help for implementing standards and create a relationship with civil-societies and affect through them.2

How does UN Women then use these five components? To start with number one; Listening. Listening in this case basically means collecting data about public opinions overseas and therefore get an image how they can spread and alter their own agenda forward in the international arena.3 There is a special rapporteur, who collects data from sources like inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations, specialised agencies, governments and treaty bodies.4 Public opinion is also very easily available thanks to the internet, which operates as a great platform for people to address their concerns, ideas and opinions.

Number two; Advocacy. As the meaning of the word in the Oxford Dictionary says it is Public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy. In this case of UN Women this part overlaps with number 5, International broadcasting thanks to social media and the internet, which is going to be examined later on in more detail. UN Women does not need that much “fishing” for support, as the agenda is so strong and touches nearly half of the human population. Empowering women and end of violence towards women does not need explanations on why it should be advocated.

Number three; Cultural Diplomacy. This means that one is making herself known by her own cultural commodities, achievements and resources.5 This component is very often hand in hand with number four; Diplomacy exchange, which in traditional sense means sending citizens overseas to learn about others and spread their own cultural diplomacy.6 In UN Women’s perspective, this means good will ambassadors. They very often are world known celebrities from any field such as literature, film, sport or music, who work for UN’s spokespersons to make their agenda known overseas and because of their influence on the masses, the ‘story’ is better heard and taken into an account.7 Today UN Women’s good will ambassador is actress, most known for her role from Harry Potter as Hermione Granger, Emma Watson. This is a speech she held for UN Women:

This speech is also a perfect representation of the number five; international broadcasting. This means that UN as an actor tries to influence the international arena by spreading their ideology through technology and engaging publics from different countries. This speech was to launch HeForShe campaign, which has become popular through her, and other celebrities who have shared their support through their personal social media page such as Twitter and Facebook.

Through all these steps, they have made gender equality a cause to raise awareness amongst countries and they, as earlier said, provide help to gain these values within societies. Now there is yet to be seen what happens after the awareness has been risen, where does it lead, as awareness alone is not enough to make a sustainable change, but that is another matter. For now, UN Women are doing a great job.







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3 thoughts on “UN Women and their use of Public Diplomacy

  1. mwheeler833 on said:

    This is an interesting and well-constructed blog post. It contains useful information and provides a coherent analysis which has the basis for a good piece of work. I make the following points:

    1. You might want to check on the weblearn concerning related material about the UN Department of Public Information. The UN argues that it provide public information rather than public relations in delivering international communications. You might want to think in relation to the use of international broadcasting how the UN has set the agenda about women’s rights.

    2. You might want to consider how the UN Goodwill Ambassador system was set up. You can check Mark Wheeler Celebrity Politics (Chapter Six). How effective has the use of female Goodwill Ambassadors or Messengers of Peace been in affecting gender rights? How does the UN relate to International Women’s day?

    3. You will need to provide some re-writes related to employment of Cull’s criteria and make the emphasis less on future tense and more related to arguments you are making.


  2. ellipeh on said:

    Overall i found your entry very interesting and informative. i agree with mwheeler833 that it is well constructed and provides analysis, to even further improve your work i would recommend to go over the grammar and writing style of some parts to make it even more flowing to read


  3. Thank you for the post. Overall information great, but as you have mentioned the American Nicholas Cull director of Masters program for Public Diplomacy I would find greater to read something else maybe related to the United Ststes, for being a superpower, their programs to encourage women empowering, or how would the public see the United States women empowering program in contrast with the UN program. I found a great reading on the on for further information if you would consider it.


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