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UN Women: Research Specialist on Social Norms

New York City

  • Organization: UNWOMEN - United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
  • Location: New York City
  • Grade: P-4, International Professional - Internationally recruited position
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Women's Empowerment and Gender Mainstreaming
    • Scientist and Researcher
  • Closing Date: 2022-10-06


The duration of the assignment is until 30 April 2023. Whereas an external candidate will be offered a temporary appointment; subject to release agreements, staff members in UN Women may be administered as a temporary assignment and staff members in the UN Common system may be administered under a loan arrangement.

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.

The Policy, Programme and Intergovernmental Division (PPID) sets the programmatic standards, assures the quality of programme design, and provides guidance to country level programme work of UN Women, as well as supporting the coordination role of UN Women at regional and country level. The division has global policy expertise, manages Global Trust Funds, and Global Programmes, and provides technical capacity to countries on request, including a humanitarian response capacity.

The UN Women Strategic Plan (2022-2025) is based on key findings from an extensive consultative process and draws from the analysis of lessons learned and recommendations from evaluations, audits, and other assessments, including those from the 25-year review and appraisal of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Given the interconnected nature of global challenges, UN Women will focus on integrated approaches with seven systemic outcomes to address the root causes of inequality and affect broader systems change, across its four thematic focus areas: 1) governance and participation in public life; 2) women’s economic empowerment; 3) ending violence against women and girls; and 4) women, peace and security, humanitarian action, and disaster risk reduction.

The Integrated Results and Resources Framework (IRRF) outlines the specific results that UN Women aims to achieve and their respective set of indicators. One of the seven systemic outcomes, Outcome 3 envisions that: More men and boys, and women and girls, adopt attitudes, norms and practices that advance gender equality and women’s empowerment, including those that promote positive social norms.

This is a relatively new area of work for UN Women which requires the development of baselines, milestones and targets for the IRRF, as well as programmatic guidance, internal capacity building, and collaboration with United Nations and expert partners.

The Research and Data Section (R&D) in PPID is responsible for leading UN Women’s research and data agenda and for positioning UN Women as a global knowledge broker on gender equality and women’s empowerment. It leads UN Women’s work on gender statistics, and produces knowledge products including UN Women flagship publications such as Progress of the World’s Women, The World Survey on the Role of Women in Development (World Survey) and the global Beijing review reports.

The Political Analysis and Programme Development Unit (PAPDU) supports the organization to strengthen programming, including through innovation and drawing upon promising practices derived from UN Women and its partner experience.

Under the direct supervision of the Deputy Chief, Research and Data section and with matrix reporting to the Programme Specialist, Political Analysis and Programme Development Unit, the Research Specialist on Social Norms is responsible for laying the groundwork for the implementation of key elements of UN Women’s Strategic Plan.

Duties and Responsibilities

1.  Commission and manage research on key aspects of gender and social norms:

  • Coordinate and support the finalization of a commissioned literature review and internal and external mapping of the landscape on gender and social norms.
  • Support the publication and dissemination of the findings to a range of internal and external stakeholders.
  • Based on a completed literature review and internal mapping of UN Women’s work on social norms, identify 2-3 areas for deeper analysis, and commission knowledge products (research papers, policy briefs) drawing on both academic and programme literature, to inform programming and policy work.

2.   Programme Guidance

  • Analyze existing plans for Outcome 3 in the UN Women Results Management System (RMS).
  • Identify promising practices as reflected in RMS plans under Outcome 3.
  • Validate the planned results and activities to assess their alignment with Outcome 3 indicators. 
  • Develop corporate baselines, milestones and targets for each of the Outcome/ Output indicators that lack these.
  • Using established templates for Indicator Manager Notes, develop these for the remaining Outcome and Output indicators, which will include the agreement on key terminology related to social norms, gender norms, etc.
  • Approximate planned expenditures for Outcome 3.
  • Based on research and mapping work, develop programme guidance materials for community/ individual level interventions; and organizational bias interventions; to provide minimum. requirements and encourage rigor of approaches in UN Women’s programmatic interventions.
  • Guide UN Women offices in the development of programme and funding proposals.

3.   Build networks of external partners on social norms

  • Liaise with key UN partners, particularly those where complementarity of approaches has been identified in the UN Women Strategic Plan, to identify UN Women comparative advantages vis-à-vis other UN organizations; and explore areas for deeper collaboration.
  • Drawing upon preliminary reviews of existing external expert partner networks and consortia, identify other potential partners and strategic entry points for dialogue with them.
  • Map potential donors and their specific interests in the area of gender and social norms, as a basis for resource mobilization efforts.

4   Support internal capacity building and knowledge management

  • Manage communications with Internal Advisory Group with aim of building an internal Community of Practice. 
  • Organize webinars to seek feedback and to brief the Advisory Group and other UN Women staff on tools as these develop.
  • Support the exchange of promising practices, both internal to UN Women and with UN partners and experts in disciplines relevant to social and gender norm change.
  • Prepare talking points and briefing notes for senior management in their engagements on social norms.

Key Performance Indicators

  • Commissioned literature review and mapping is completed and disseminated widely.
  • Evidence-based knowledge products and programme guidance materials are developed on areas of social norms of strong priority for UN Women’s current and future work.
  • Baselines, milestones and targets established for all relevant Outcome 3 indicators.
  • An active and engaged community of practice contributes to organizational knowledge on how to plan for and implement Outcome 3.
  • UN partners are engaged, and their experience and knowledge contribute to shared understanding of collective and individual agency responsibilities to achieve results under Outcome 3.
  • Expert practitioners and consortia experience and knowledge inform UN Women planning and programme guidance under Outcome 3.
  • UN Women colleagues have shared awareness of strategies, partners, and knowledge resources in order to plan for and implement Outcome 3.
  • Indicative mapping of funding landscape available and priority areas for resource mobilization identified.


Core Values:

  • Respect for Diversity
  • Integrity
  • Professionalism

Core Competencies:

  • Awareness and Sensitivity Regarding Gender Issues
  • Accountability
  • Creative Problem Solving
  • Effective Communication
  • Inclusive Collaboration
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Leading by Example

Please visit this link for more information on UN Women’s Core Values and Competencies:

Functional Competencies

  • Expert research and/or practitioner with knowledge of approaches to transform gender/ social norms.
  • Proven track record of work with methodologies to drive social/ gender norm change.
  • Ability to commission and manage research and the development of strategic, evidence-based knowledge products.
  • Ability to lead strategic planning and results-based management.
  • Ability to work with diverse stakeholders.
  • Ability to build strong relationships with clients; focus on impact on results for the clients and responds positively to feedback.
  • Ability to manage complexities.

Required Skills and Experience

Education and certification:

  • Master’s degree or equivalent in Social Sciences, International Relations, Political/Development Studies, or other relevant discipline, with a strong gender component is required
  • A first-level university degree in combination with two additional years of qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.


  • At least 7 years of progressively responsible experience in research and/or programme work with a strong component on social/gender norm change.
  • Experience of project management, strategic planning, results-based management, planning and stakeholder engagement is required;
  • Experience in international development preferably focused on gender equality at national, regional and/or international levels is an asset;
  • Experience in an international organization or the UN system is an asset;
  • Experience with dealing with bilateral and multilateral funding sources is desired.

Language Requirements:

  • Fluency in English is required
  • Knowledge of the other UN official working language is an asset.


All applications must include (as an attachment) the completed UN Women Personal History form (P-11) which can be downloaded from: Kindly note that the system will only allow one attachment. Applications without the completed UN Women P-11 form will be treated as incomplete and will not be considered for further assessment.


In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. The creation of UN Women came about as part of the UN reform agenda, bringing together resources and mandates for greater impact. It merges and builds on the important work of four previously distinct parts of the UN system (DAW, OSAGI, INSTRAW and UNIFEM), which focused exclusively on gender equality and women's empowerment.

Diversity and inclusion:

At UN Women, we are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment of mutual respect. UN Women recruits, employs, trains, compensates, and promotes regardless of race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, ability, national origin, or any other basis covered by appropriate law. All employment is decided on the basis of qualifications, competence, integrity and organizational need.

If you need any reasonable accommodation to support your participation in the recruitment and selection process, please include this information in your application.

UN Women has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UN Women, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to UN Women’s policies and procedures and the standards of conduct expected of UN Women personnel and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. (Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.)

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