U.N. Women

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U.N. Women
Founded 2010
Headquarters New York, NY
Key People Ivana Pajević, President; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director
Employees 1000-5000
Products Nonprofit
Twitter @UN_Women
LinkedIn Profile
Facebook unwomen
Website U.N. Women Home
Releases Company News

U.N. Women is a United Nations organization focused on achieving gender equality and empowering women in U.N. Member States.[1] In September 2018, the organization began using blockchain technology in order to improve their humanitarian aid efforts.[2]


U.N. Women works with various governments of U.N. Member States to pass laws that enforce equal rights for women and girls, including physical safety, work opportunities, legal protection, and economic autonomy and security for all women. The organization works towards these goals by providing data to government lawmaking bodies, advocating and coordinating U.N.-sponsored efforts for gender equality, and providing technical and financial support to Member States to help implement new standards into their laws.[3]


U.N. Women was founded in 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly in order to establish a single organization to lead its gender equality promotion efforts. Part of this process involved merging several formerly separate U.N. entities, including the 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), and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).[4][5]

Use of blockchain for humanitarian efforts

In February 2018, U.N. Women hosted a four-day simulation lab in Oslo, Norway. The purpose of the lab was to explore how blockchain technology can be used to solve problems frequently encountered by the organization while trying to give aid to refugees and victims of natural disasters, such as maintaining secure methods of identifying individuals, medical records, and documents of ownership for assets like cars and homes.[6]

In September, U.N. Women and the World Food Programme (WFP) partnered to provide food aid for refugee women and children from Syria in Jordan, specifically in the U.N.-managed Za'atari and Azraq refugee camps through the WFP's "Building Blocks" project.[7] The goal of "Building Blocks" is to improve cash transfers for humanitarian aid-related operations with greater security, transparency, and overall efficiency.[8] In April, the Belgian government had contributed €2 million to support WFP's development of technological innovations to improve projects like "Building Blocks."

The "Building Blocks" blockchain system is being used as part of U.N. Women's "cash for work" program, which allows women refugees to receive money directly, without the use of third parties like banks, to which most of these refugees do not have access. It also allows for the access of individual financial accounts without the need for users to have a high level of financial or technological literacy; according to U.N. Women's executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, women in Syria typically have lower digital and financial literacy than Syrian men and have a hard time using computers. Instead of using bank or credit cards, the program uses biometric scanning technology to link the iris scans of its users to accounts recorded on a blockchain. Thus, these users can access their accounts through eye scans, without the need for third parties. As of September 18, 2018, over 76,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan have used the technology to buy food using these iris scans.[9][10][11]