Commission on the Status of Women
19 December 1994
COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN
New York, Thirty-ninth session
15 March-4 April 1995
Item 3 of the provisional agenda*
PREPARATIONS FOR THE FOURTH WORLD CONFERENCE ON WOMEN:
ACTION FOR EQUALITY, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE
Technical assistance and women: from mainstreaming
towards institutional accountability
Note by the Secretary General
The Commission on the Status of Women, in its resolution 35/4, invited
the Secretary-General to report on existing technical and financial programmes
in favour of women and offer guidelines for overcoming constraints and
increasing cooperation in critical areas of concern. The annex to this note
responds to that request. It highlights the results of a review undertaken by
the Secretariat with assistance from UNDP, UNFPA and UNIFEM under the overall
coordination of the World Bank. It makes recommendations for strengthening
the impact of United Nations assistance and financing for the advancement of
women, including strategies for integrating gender analysis in policy,
planning and implementation and for increased accountability for improving the
status of women through technical cooperation and financial assistance
1. The Commission on the Status of Women, in its resolution 35/4 of
8 March 1991, invited the Secretary-General to report on existing technical
and financial cooperation programmes in favour of women and to offer
guidelines for a comprehensive plan to overcome constraints and increase such
cooperation with regard to critical areas of concern. In its resolution 37/7
of March 1993, the Commission reiterated its request. In response to these
requests, the Secretariat initiated, with assistance from the United Nations
Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the United Nations Population Fund
(UNFPA) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and under the
coordination of the World Bank, a review of technical and financial
cooperation in favour of women as carried out by the United Nations system.
2. The review drew upon existing evaluations of technical cooperation and
financial assistance for women's programming which had been carried out by
United Nations programmes and agencies. Responses to a questionnaire, which
was circulated to all agencies, interviews and a request for information on
successful projects were also used. The analysis was based on the
characteristics and experience of the agencies rather than an explicit
evaluation of each agency's practice.
3. The results of the review are contained in the annex to this note
entitled: "Technical assistance and women: from mainstreaming towards
institutional accountability". It was prepared by a consultant, Kathleen
Staudt, who is an expert in gender and organizational behaviour. The report
was reviewed by the agencies in draft form.
4. The review begins by analysing institutional strategies to incorporate
gender into the context of prevailing "organizational cultures" and the
conditions under which they change. It goes on to compare the relative
successes of some of these strategies for mainstreaming gender concerns in the
work of United Nations agencies, including policy instruments, procedures,
gender training, networking and evaluation. Thereafter, it examines
successful and not-so-successful cases to demonstrate the extent to which
gender has been mainstreamed. Finally, the review pulls together lessons
learned to make recommendations for the future.
5. Technical cooperation for women in development in the United Nations
gained importance in the late 1960s when the Economic and Social Council asked
the specialized agencies, plus the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF),
UNDP and non-governmental organizations, to cooperate in the development of a
unified long-term programme for the advancement of women. It also asked the
Secretary- General to initiate studies on the possibility of supplementing
that action by establishing a fund which might be used to assist Governments
in implementing their national programmes for the advancement of women. The
idea of both targeting women in ongoing programmes and setting up a separate
fund resulted in the creation of UNIFEM and in efforts to mainstream women and
development programming into agencies engaged in a wide variety of development
interventions, from financial assistance to technical assistance in health and
6. To move agencies successfully into technical cooperation to benefit
women, advocates of women-in-development (WID) have tried a number of
strategies, including urging the adoption of WID policy documents for
leverage; advocating for better research and gender-disaggregated data; and
justifying the need for both integrated and separate approaches to women in
7. The results up until 1985 showed success in relation to policy
documents, resolutions and research, but very little in terms of technical
assistance offered by operational agencies. The vast bulk of development
assistance still bypassed women. Even those projects designed to reach women
were often not sustainable.
8. In 1985 at the Nairobi Conference, there was a call for more
mainstreaming, though not to the exclusion of assistance targeted at women.
The Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women contained
a section entitled "Technical cooperation, training and advisory services". 1/
United Nations funding agencies such as UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, the World Food
Programme (WFP) and the World Bank were called upon to ensure that women
benefited from and participated in all projects and programmes funded by those
9. Definitions of "mainstreaming" however, differ. It can mean
(a) Integrating all agency sectors and operations without raising
questions or critiques about those operations;
(b) Transforming the development agency, thereby implying criticism of
existing operations - i.e. transformative mainstreaming;
(c) Strengthening women's active involvement in development by aligning
women's capabilities and contribution with macro-development issues such as
population, the environment, critical poverty, food scarcity, energy and
urbanization. This link provides the rationale for drawing upon large-scale
resources for development which have not hitherto articulated support or
programmatic linkages to women.
This latter definition was clearly used by UNFPA in relation to the proposals
put before the International Conference on Population and Development. Issues
of equality between men and women permeated the document, which, when adopted,
opened the way for extending resources normally earmarked for population-
related projects, for example, to programmes for girls' education.
10. The review identifies the shift in conceptual analysis in the late 1980s
from a strict focus on women to one on gender. A gender approach attempts to
put people at the centre and allows for greater differentiation between men
and women and among women. There is also a shift in focus from women's
practical needs to strategic needs. The latter is more likely to produce
long-term gains in women's empowerment and the sustainable transformation of
the mainstream of development.
11. Because "institutional cultures" vary, in terms of era of creation,
missions, structures and sizes, diverse strategies are required in order to
mainstream gender. The report stresses the recruitment of a "critical mass"
of women within an organization as a prerequisite for changing the dominant
institutional culture towards greater gender sensitivity. It, however, points
out that men must also share this responsibility.
12. The review concludes that no one "best way" exists to mainstream women
into development. A variety of institutional strategies have been tried. The
institutional structure usually takes the form of a centralized WID focal
point, frequently short of staff and resources and working in relative
isolation. Under such conditions, mutually beneficial alliance-building
strategies can maximize the quality of outcomes for the whole agency. There
is evidence of increasing specificity of policy guidance, coupled with a
variety of inputs to assist and educate staff, ranging from checklists and
rosters of WID experts to gender training and improved evaluation systems.
The review recommends that gender training should be accompanied by
institutional commitment and post-training follow-up and support.
13. Given the prevailing difficulty of measuring and monitoring expenditures
on a gender-disaggregated basis and of tracing the impact of programmes on
people generally, whether male or female, the review points out that the
impact on women of multilateral technical cooperation cannot be adequately
analysed. It finds that there has been a steady movement in recent years in
the United Nations towards accountability-based strategies for women and
development programming. Many United Nations agencies have developed explicit
policies for WID assistance. The results of efforts to put these policies
into practice have, however, been uneven. It recommends the development of a
refined set of indicators capable of measuring and monitoring both the
quantitative and qualitative impact of various interventions to address gender
14. The review recommends that those agencies with a strong track record in
assistance to benefit women should move towards accountability-based
approaches. Accountability strategies shift responsibility from a women's
unit to other parts of the agency, including personnel units, evaluation
offices, and managers and country-level staff. At the country level,
accountability strategies stress dialogue with women's organizations and
women-friendly advocacy organizations to spread responsibility to Governments
for responsiveness to women as well as men. This offers the potential for
closer relations between non-governmental organizations and Governments.
15. The review examines the impact of development assistance on women at the
country level, since that impact is the outcome for which development agencies
exist. A number of successful models demonstrate how agencies have succeeded
in moving beyond welfare and efficiency approaches to equality and empowerment
approaches. It also found that women-specific or women-targeted efforts
continue to be necessary in order to balance the integrated, or mainstreamed,
16. The proposal put forward is for more institutional accountability in
political contexts in which empowered women, with men, demand and drive
outcomes dramatically different from the ones to be expected from male-
dominated decision-making. It recommends that process-oriented input
approaches, which have predominated in the past, should be supplemented with
approaches that stress people-oriented and gender-sensitive outcomes. In
addition, strategies are required to generate demand within agencies as a
whole for the process-oriented inputs already put into place by gender units.
17. Recommendations made in the review pertain to action within the whole
system, within agencies, between partners in development, including
Governments and non-governmental organizations, and for the users of
18. At the level of the whole system, the ability of evaluation units to
report people-oriented gender-differentiated outcomes must be strengthened.
Monitoring and evaluation systems must provide evidence of agency efforts and
funding to promote gender-based outcomes. Agencies must regularly report to
system-wide mechanisms (like the Administrative Committee on Coordination, the
Commission on the Status of Women, the Economic and Social Council) that make
results visible. The review recommends better inter-agency coordination to
reduce duplication and build on the comparative advantage of agencies in
19. Recommended internal strategies for agencies relate to spreading the
responsibility for action on gender throughout the agency, by recruiting more
women, increasing commitment to gender-training, devising personnel policies
that reward or penalize staff for good work or non-performance on gender, and
introducing performance-based gender-differentiated budgeting.
20. The review suggests that a more holistic view of gender needs must be
taken in designing development assistance for better gender impact, including
incorporating a life-cycle approach to women's health, giving greater
attention to the issue of women's control over household income earned by
them, and targeting men in gender-programming. Finally, the review stresses
the importance of alliance-building between partners in development. For this
to be more effective, concrete efforts will need to be made to encourage
co-financing of programmes and projects and redefine policies and strategies
so as to allow cooperative action to be undertaken within the framework of
regular budgets and programmes.
21. The Commission on the Status of Women may wish to consider these points
when finalizing recommendations in the draft platform for action in connection
with recommendations for strengthening multilateral institutions to implement
technical cooperation and to finance programmes for the advancement of women.
1/ Report of the World Conference to Review and Appraise the
Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development
and Peace, Nairobi, 15-26 July 1985 (United Nations publication, Sales No.
E.85.IV.10), chap. 1, sect. A.
TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE AND WOMEN: FROM MAINSTREAMING TOWARDS
Prepared by Kathleen Staudt
INTRODUCTION .............................................. 1 - 22 7
I. THE CULTURE OF DEVELOPMENT-ASSISTANCE INSTITUTIONS .. 23 - 67 11
II. INSTITUTIONAL STRATEGIES ............................ 68 - 123 23
III. CASES FROM THE FIELD ................................ 124 - 161 34
IV. FROM MAINSTREAMING TO ACCOUNTABILITY ................ 162 - 188 47
1. For nearly two decades, most multilateral assistance agencies have
developed guidelines or policies that support the integration of women into
development programmes. A wide variety of strategies have been adopted to put
these policies into operation. As we move towards the year 2000, it is useful
to compare these strategies, the obstacles encountered, and the
recommendations that flow therefrom. The results of the strategies are not
fully known, given the difficulty of measuring and monitoring
gender-disaggregated spending and of tracing outcomes for people, male or
2. This paper compares the approaches of a group of agencies in the United
Nations system engaged in providing diverse forms of development assistance,
ranging from financial and technical assistance in specific sectors to
humanitarian interventions. Women's unit staff responded to a questionnaire
or a letter query, or both, about successful project examples. Additionally,
the analysis is based on interviews with various agency staff, documents and
internal studies, and group meetings.
3. This comparison demonstrates that agencies have built the foundation for
both undertaking women-specific activities and mainstreaming gender into
agency missions, sectors and, to a lesser extent, policy dialogue. For
mainstreaming to take root, it will be necessary to move beyond this
foundation to accountability-based approaches that draw on the full resources,
staff, and mechanisms of agencies. Mainstreaming must be done in a way that
meshes with agency missions but ultimately challenges them to transform with
the help of system-wide, institutional accountability.
4. The move towards accountability-based strategies is based on lessons
learned over the two decades devoted to women-in-development (WID)
programming. During these two decades, historical lessons were learned, WID
language changed, and women's organizations and women-friendly organizations
flourished. This section summarizes these historical perspectives and
clarifies the changing language once known simply as WID.
5. The staff of women's units have pursued a variety of institutional
strategies in their efforts to put policies into practice. Strategies are
based on a diagnosis of the host institutions in which they are situated.
Institutional missions, language, procedures, and incentive structures provide
possibilities for and limitations to just what those staff can do. Chapter I
analyses organizational cultures and the conditions under which they change.
6. Chapter II compares the strategies pursued in terms of policy
instruments, procedures, gender-training, networking, and evaluation. As the
institutions in this study bear out, no one best way exists to integrate or
mainstream women into development missions, sectors, and policies. The
chapter shows the increasing specificity of policy guidance, coupled with a
variety of inputs to educate staff, ranging from checklists and guidelines to
gender-training and evaluation requirements.
7. Country-based action is the outcome for which development agencies exist.
Women's policies are unevenly communicated from headquarters to field
operations in the form of country-based programming, projects and policy
dialogue. Nevertheless, examples of successful models provide ideas and
inspirations across agency lines. Chapter III demonstrates how exemplary
efforts by women's units have nudged at the core of the mandates of their host
agencies and moved them beyond welfare and efficiency approaches to equity and
empowerment approaches. The chapter also demonstrates the continuing
justification for women-specific efforts to balance the integrated and
8. Chapter IV pulls together the lessons learned to make recommendations for
the future. In sum, the recommendations would move those agencies that have
established a firm foundation towards accountability-based approaches. In the
narrower context of particular agencies, strategies for greater accountability
seek to shift the responsibility from the women's unit to other parts of the
agency, including personnel, evaluation, and country staff. In the wider
context of countries, strategies for accountability seek to legitimize
dialogue with women's organizations and women-friendly advocacy organizations
to increase the responsibility of Governments for greater responsiveness to
women as well as men.
B. Historical perspective
9. Women-in-development (WID) advocacy, born in the 1970s, has tried and
tested strategies to make institutions more responsive to women and thereby to
increase the effectiveness of development interventions. These strategies
have borne considerable fruit, accounting for the firm foundation on which WID
rests in many agencies.
10. The terms "advocacy" and "advocates" refer to the process associated with
introducing new and non-routine issues into institutional operations. 1/
Thus, this terminology is also applicable to other new development issues,
such as environmental sustainability and the involvement of non-governmental
organizations, among others.
11. WID advocates have found that the tried and tested means:
(a) Urge adoption of policy documents for leverage;
(b) Push for better research and disaggregated data;
(c) Justify the need for both integrated and separate approaches.
These early formulas are basic to the introduction of any new issue into the
activities of an institution.
12. Over the period of the United Nations Decade for Women (1976-1985), a
connection was made between women and development issues in policy documents,
resolutions and research, but its translation into operational practice was
minimal. A comparative study in 1985 categorized projects of United Nations
agencies into four types, with the following results (Kardam, 1991):
(a) Projects designed exclusively with women in mind - 5 per cent of
(b) Projects designed to include women - 12 per cent;
(c) Projects affecting women but with no provision for women's
participation - 56 per cent;
(d) Projects of no interest to women - 27 per cent.
The report also found that the largest category of projects, the 56 per cent
which affected women but had no provision for their participation, consumed
63 per cent of the budgetary resources in all four categories. Reports like
these suggested that the vast bulk of development projects and resources
bypassed women. While projects for women only were guaranteed to reach women,
they sometimes did so with a welfare or service orientation and in ways that
could not be sustained after project funding ended. One influential study of
such projects concluded that "women's projects misbehaved" (Buvinic, 1986).
13. Clearly, new strategies were called for. At the 1985 World Conference to
Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women,
held at the conclusion of the Decade, some consensus emerged that
"mainstreaming" should become one of the new strategies. By mainstreaming,
people mean different things. One study (Jahan, 1992) identifies
mainstreaming as either integrating gender into the work of all agency sectors
and operations, not just women-specific ones, but without raising questions or
critiques about those operations; or transforming the development agenda,
thereby implying criticism of existing operations, hereinafter called
14. This latter meaning corresponds to the UNIFEM Director's call for women
to make a "qualitative difference" as they enter the mainstream (Anderson,
1990). Still another definition of mainstreaming is:
Strengthening women's active involvement in development by linking
women's capabilities and contributions with macro-development issues such
as population, the environment, critical poverty, food scarcity, energy
and urbanization. This link provides the rationale for drawing upon
large-scale resources for development which have not hitherto articulated
support or programmatic linkages to women (UNFPA, n.d.)
This definition is useful in two ways. First, it is in tune with the shift of
focus in many agencies away from project and programme assistance towards
macro-policy reform. Without linkage to policy dialogue, women's issues may
be as invisible, as they were before the 1975 World Conference of the
International Women's Year, held in Mexico City. Secondly, women's advocates,
who may number a mere handful of staff in an agency of thousands, are not
always in a position to challenge the mainstream of their host organizations,
much less the dominant thinking among mainstream thinkers. This definition
makes explicit the need for linkages between gender and other sectoral and
cross-sectoral issues, some of which also challenge the existing mainstream.
15. This report takes no position on the definition of mainstreaming but
recognizes the different approaches existing in different agencies.
C. Some clarification of concepts
16. Besides witnessing the emergence of the new terminology of mainstreaming,
WID discourse has become more complex. Advocates increasingly differentiate
between the terms "women" and "gender".
1. Women vs. gender
17. The earlier focus on "women" was based on the idea that women were
subordinate to men, that women's work and needs were neglected in development
planning, and that women's status needed to be raised. Yet this terminology
seemed to suggest that women were all alike, rather than differentiated by
class and region. The terminology also gave rise to concerns among those
resistant to WID that it was a "special interest". The terminology did not
seem conducive to building alliances with men for furthering the objective of
18. Since the late 1980s, the term "gender" has been increasingly used.
Gender approaches emphasize:
(a) The social construction of male and female (as opposed to their
(b) The gaps between women and men;
(c) The relations between men and women.
Gender places people at the centre, women and men. With its emphasis on how
society constructs opportunities and life chances, it allows for
differentiation among women and men by, for example, age or income. Some
agencies have gone through the complex process of renaming their offices or of
using both labels. This analysis will use the term "women/gender", given the
continuing mix of language.
2. Types of approaches in agency contexts
19. The rationale for incorporating women/gender concerns into development
efforts has also become more complex. Several attempts have been made to
analyse the differences between approaches. One attempt focuses on five
approaches, ranging from the traditional "welfare" approach to the now more
common "anti-poverty", "equity", "economic", or "empowerment" approaches
(Moser, 1993). Development agency staff are increasingly aware of the
differences between these approaches and the implications of the differences
for how the entire development community views people and the justifications
for investing in people. The empowerment rationale is becoming increasingly
acceptable, leading to a shift, in some cases, to a women's empowerment
20. Advocates for gender choose their language depending on the mandate of
the agency in which they operate. Those working in poverty-alleviation
agencies document project efficiency with targeted focus on women. The
discourse of equity may not by itself be adequately persuasive in an agency of
economists, while that of economic efficiency may be unsuitable in a health
agency. Exemplary projects that push beyond the limitations of particular
approaches, such as welfare and relief, constitute evidence of the commitment
of agencies to "transformative mainstreaming".
21. Economic/efficiency justifications are the most commonly used, either by
themselves or in conjunction with other approaches. Because development
institutions are responsible for efficient and effective use of their
resources, the economic rationale seems most consistent with agency missions
and is especially effective in persuading resistant officials (Rao and others,
1991). However, a rationale based exclusively on efficiency arguments may
exclude equally important equity considerations. Efficiency approaches also
run the risk of failing to prove their effectiveness under the extremely short
time-line of two to three years typical of most projects or the 5 to 10 years
typical of most programmes. The social construction of an under-class - in
this case, women - takes more than a decade to deconstruct and then to
reconstruct. Its perpetuation through inaction generates costs that do not
figure easily into a 2 to 10-year time frame.
3. Strategic vs. practical interests
22. In the 1990s, policy dialogue is gradually conceptualizing development in
a more long-term sense. This orientation is consistent with the increased
emphasis on meeting women's "strategic" as opposed to "practical" gender
interests (Moser, 1993). As chapter IV will demonstrate, more and more
agencies use a strategic approach to women's programming, which may yield more
long-term gains for women's empowerment and may, thus, make the transformation
of the mainstream of development activity more sustainable.
I. THE CULTURE OF DEVELOPMENT-ASSISTANCE INSTITUTIONS
23. This chapter focuses on the work of international agencies and the extent
to which they involve women. It begins with a discussion of the types of
multilateral assistance institutions included in this study. It then
discusses organizational behaviour in development agencies, which are usually
large bureaucratic institutions with their own distinctive "cultures".
Although national Governments are outside the scope of this study, they too
share the characteristics of large, bureaucratic organizations. The chapter
concludes with a discussion about the limited information available on levels
and type of funding for women.
A. Multilateral development institutions
24. A wide range of agencies are loosely linked under the broad
organizational umbrella of the United Nations. They can be classified in a
number of different ways, ranging from era of creation, to mission, to
structure, and to size.
1. Era of creation: a gendered staff
25. The era of creation of an organization tells us about the demographics of
its staff. United Nations agencies were born in different eras, ranging from
the old and mature International Labour Organization (ILO), established in
1919 and the first to be affiliated with the United Nations, to new
organizations established in the 1970s, at the height of concern about poverty
alleviation in the context of wide global disparities. Most organizations
were founded well before the idea of women in development was known.
26. Only one organization, UNIFEM, was created with the specific mandate of
integrating women into development. It is comparatively minuscule in terms of
staff and resources. Yet it is the largest critical mass in the United
Nations of specialists working at the operational level in this field, and it
works in coordination with other United Nations organizations, national
Governments, and women's non-governmental organizations. As official
histories document, UNIFEM too underwent a move towards mainstreaming in the
late 1980s (Anderson, 1990 and 1993).
27. On the whole, United Nations agencies were created before WID was even an
idea, much less a concept familiar to staff. Senior decision makers and most
professionals then - as now - were primarily men. They were trained in
disciplines and in eras in which much of women's work was invisible and
28. Today, some disciplines still give little analytical attention to women.
Economic analysis, on the one hand, is still largely based on paid work in the
formal sector, which makes men appear more prominent. Macro-policy analysis
is only recently beginning to integrate gender. On the other hand, analysis
in the fields of population, health and education has long been based on
gender-disaggregated data. While such data may mask the unique needs of men
and women - an issue women/gender advocates strive to uncover - gender gaps
are routinely reported and analysed.
(a) Increasing women's proportional representation
29. Successive goals have resulted in increased proportions of female
professionals. The United Nations 1995 goal is 35 per cent, with some
agencies still working to achieve the goal, and others having surpassed it.
But will more women professionals make institutions more responsive to women?
30. There are good reasons to believe that more women professionals will
result in better programming for women. For one, most women/gender advocates
are female. For another, most professionals with training and experience in
WID are women. But women are not all alike; nor are men. It can also not be
assumed that women will automatically work for women. Women are trained in
different fields, only some of which call attention to gender issues.
31. The infamous "bureaucratic resistance to women's programmes", said to
have characterized the late 1970s and early 1980s, is no longer as universal
as it once seemed. Although agencies were once thought of as generally
resistant to WID, this resistance can be broken down into several responses.
One study of two United Nations organizations (Lotherington, 1991) identifies
a gender-neutral typology which helps clarify responses to WID as follows:
(a) Innovators (mostly women);
(b) Loyal bureaucrats (mostly men who work in response to policies and
(c) Hesitators (mostly men who are more comfortable with welfare
(d) Hard-liners (nearly always men who feel threatened and who may
relate their orientation to personal attitudes towards women).
The inertia of the "loyal bureaucrat" and the "hesitator" are obstacles which
can be overcome.
(b) Dynamics of proportional underrepresentation
32. A lone woman, or several women who constitute a minuscule percentage of
professionals in a bureaucratic unit, cannot effectively work in a male-
dominated setting without extraordinary performance pressures (Kanter, 1993).
Lone women professionals leading advocacy offices or serving as focal points
in technical or country units face numerous dynamics which complicate their
work, only one of which is the new policy issue they advocate. Among these
are the burden of representing all women, heightened gender boundaries and
treatment as a female caricature. Therefore, experts recommend hiring
strategies to reach a critical mass, or more minimally, hiring and placing
women in "batches" rather than as lone pioneers.
(c) Male allies
33. More and more, men have become important allies in development agencies.
The lead authors in UNICEF's two-volume Adjustment with a Human Face and
UNDP's annual Human Development Report demonstrate the broader base of
interest and expertise, which crosses gender lines. Some male executives now
frequently include gender concerns in statements to staff and to the public.
The advancement of the gender agenda would not have been possible without male
2. Institutional mission
34. United Nations organizations can be categorized as sectoral, financial,
humanitarian, or standard-setting. Sectoral agencies can be further broken
down according to their primary missions of agriculture, health, industry,
population, and so on.
35. The central mandate of an agency drives the type of specialized staff who
are recruited. Financial institutions are likely to recruit economists for
their technical core staff. The justifications that persuade economists are
based on efficiency arguments. The lens through which economists view the
world tends to reduce the visibility of women's unpaid work. On the other
hand, the interventions they suggest may enhance overall productivity but may
increase women's burden of unpaid work. This does not mean that financial
institutions are intractable. Rather, it means that successful women/gender
advocacy will draw on these terminologies, justifications, and documentation.
36. It is difficult to draw sharp lines that separate agencies by their
missions. Agencies have overlapping missions and even fund one another for
some activities. The work of humanitarian or population agencies expands into
development activities, for more long-term support. Financial institutions
have begun to document the rates of return on social-sector investments, such
as those for girls' education. Agricultural agencies may concern themselves
with legal issues, such as more gender-equitable land laws. During the 1990s,
moreover, the mandates of many agencies are converging over cross-sectoral
issues such as human development, environmental sustainability and, to a
lesser extent, gender. Still, their core missions remain the technical ones
for which they were founded, furthered by staff with the relevant technical
expertise. The effectiveness of women/gender advocates depends upon the
extent they connect with the core mandates of their agencies.
3. Governance structures
37. Although loosely joined with others under the United Nations umbrella,
each agency has its own distinctive governance and management structure.
Although these multinational and multicultural bodies have appointment
policies for greater geographical representation, gender perspectives still do
not characterize their decision-making processes. The accountability of
multilateral bodies to ordinary people, constituents and users is complex and
indirect, being linked through their interaction with national Governments.
38. United Nations development institutions are bureaucracies more than
democracies. Unlike bilateral assistance institutions, they are hierarchies
which are not set in political contexts through which voters hold decision
makers regularly accountable through periodic electoral review (Jahan, 1992).
However, United Nations agencies have the advantage of being able to move
beyond the foreign policy and commercial agendas that sometimes drive
(a) National sovereignty
39. Ideally, the work of United Nations agencies is based on respect for
national sovereignty. National Governments establish the framework in which
United Nations agencies collaborate. However, since women's representation in
national Governments around the world is negligible, gender may not be
considered sufficiently important in national policies.
40. Respect for national sovereignty may be undermined in several ways,
independent of work on women/gender. Financial agencies, for example, may set
conditions for policy reform before monetary transfers are made. Regulations
may specify accountancy, planning, and evaluation standards. Substantive
standards for the promotion of human rights, environment or labour law, and
equity also nudge at the principle of respect for national sovereignty.
41. United Nations agencies range from centralized agencies with most staff
at headquarters to those with decentralized staff and lines of authority. In
centralized agencies, management faces fewer intra-organizational
communication problems than in organizations with several field offices around
the world. Decentralized structures, on the other hand, offer staff the
opportunity for acquiring fuller expertise and greater contact with national
Governments and non-governmental organizations. Some United Nations agencies
have country-based programming cycles relying on information acquired by their
field offices. Yet for decentralized organizations, headquarters/field
communication is problematic, potentially worsening their fragmentation. As
one study (Pietila and Eide, 1990) indicates, in such agencies:
Field office staff tend to complain about being overloaded, leaving them
too little time to reflect, learn, see new opportunities - and to adapt
and implement new policy signals from central United Nations
offices...[The organization's] main counterpart at the level of
government is likely to be the Ministry of Finance or Planning, which is
politically and professionally less inclined to be prepared for a
discussion of WID issues.
42. Just as United Nations organizations are not a monolithic group, by
criteria of age, mission, size, or structure, so also are national
governmental ministries not a monolithic group. Different United Nations
agencies work with different ministries, where notions about the "cultural
suitability" of working with women may vary. Yet without significant
coordination, opportunities may go unseized, even at the country level.
43. Through resolutions passed in various United Nations conferences, various
agencies and national Governments may be stimulated to draw up action plans
for women. Action by the United Nations General Assembly also can stimulate
new policy initiatives. The WID group of the Development Assistance Committee
(DAC) in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
established guiding principles in 1983 (revised in 1989) for monitoring
progress in the implementation of its gender policies. Its reports provide a
vehicle through which bilateral assistance agencies report and then compare
women/gender actions (OECD/DAC, 1992).
4. Agency size
44. The organizations in this study also vary in terms of size, measured both
by staff numbers and budgets. The demand for their resources or technical
expertise and the stability of those resources create very different kinds of
behaviour. Some institutions have more financial independence, while others
depend on voluntary contributions. Women/gender offices are sometimes wholly
or partially funded on "soft" and temporary terms, even in financially
independent and sound agencies.
45. Professional staff in agencies range in number from 25 to thousands,
including national and international staff. In addition, some of them employ
large numbers of consultants and contractors, which may complicate efforts to
communicate gender policies to all staff, both regular and temporary.
46. Bureaucracies function by recruiting specialized staff, determining a
division of labour and establishing a hierarchy of control through which to
supervise tasks. Problems of communication, coordination, and hierarchy tend
to be greater in larger organizations. One study of United Nations
organizations reports a 10-level hierarchical pyramid in the agencies
(Lotherington, 1991). Hierarchy and division may constrain progress on
cross-sectoral issues like women/gender. Moreover, women professionals and
WID innovators are likely to staff mid- to low-levels of the hierarchy. While
some critics argue that bureaucracies are incompatible with women's lives, the
successful track record of WID shows that women/gender mainstreaming work can
and should be strengthened.
B. Organizational culture
47. The peculiar history and culture of an organization is a determinant of
institutional strategies and activities on women/gender. Organizations are
not all alike. For this reason, there is no single WID approach that works in
all agencies. Women/gender advocates must understand the distinctiveness of
their host organizations in their attempts to advance WID concerns with
limited resources and staff.
48. The concept of "organizational culture" 2/ allows people to diagnose the
peculiarities of each organization and develop prescriptions for change. As
Walker (1986) says, "All organizations have a particular culture composed of
ideologies, rituals, myths, and knowledge of the organization, its
environment, and its past". The founders of an organization establish the
initial core definition of mission. They recruit professionals with
particular disciplinary and ideological orientations. Professional staff
either assimilate or leave, unless they create or find a niche in which to
build a base for organizational change. Organizational cultures change under
certain conditions, as box I.1 indicates.
Box I.1. Changing organizational cultures
1. Shifts occur in their environments, from critics, political
constituencies, coalition partners, governing boards or funders, among others.
2. Subcultures confront or slowly nudge at the core mission, most effectively
done in coalition with or with leverage from other internal subcultures (and
occasionally external forces).
3. New or successor chief executives put in place senior staff who shift
focus, reorganize, hire new or diversified (demographic or disciplinary)
personnel, and redistribute resources, thereby altering the incentive system
within which work is done.
4. A crisis occurs, such as performance or budget failure or a serious
public-image problem, setting in motion the above forces.
49. Women/gender advocates, dissecting and diagnosing their own
organizational cultures, have lived through the first condition for change,
but it is an environment crowded with contradictory signals. International
women's conferences and resolutions have sent clear signals to stimulate
organizational change. Yet they have resulted in equally compelling signals
overloading staff and forcing a prioritization that may not favour WID. An
organization's women/gender unit is an example of the second condition, a
subculture. Staff in such units build formal alliances with other units and
through interdepartmental steering committees. Networks represent an informal
link. Among the many elements of the third condition, women/gender units
seize opportunities associated with new executives. Yet executives are
lobbied by many parts of the organization. Even with executive-driven
reorganization, much of the same personnel may remain in place, with outlooks
developed through several years of socialization.
50. Box I.2 outlines the fourth condition by presenting a case-study of how
one agency became responsive to environmental concerns in the context of
crisis in the public image of the organization. The case is relevant since
women/gender, like environment, is a cross-cutting issue. Merely the
integration of women/gender into existing operations may be a challenge for
some agencies. Transforming operations so that women make a qualitative
difference is the next step. Gender advocates in funding agencies may combine
economic efficiency approaches with those for equity and poverty alleviation
and use sophisticated analytic techniques to make the case for long-term
investments in gender. Their efforts may not yield benefits quickly, as box
I.2 suggests. But persistence, quality, and vigilance could eventually pay
Box I.2. Agency response to a cross-cutting issue
A large financial institution supports development interventions. Staff
in the institution are said to be subject to pressure from the top of the
agency; pressure from recipient countries, as board members and as acceptors
or rejectors of conditions; bureaucratic self-interest from a hardworking and
competitive staff; intellectual conviction, "couched in economic terms", or
"translated into economic terms" and personal conviction. Women/gender
advocates diagnose these pressure points and characteristics in strategizing
for change. According to studies (Lenox and McNeill, 1989), this agency
responds to yet other pressures from member countries in the form of their
voting shares and from international non-governmental organizations,
particularly in the context of crisis in the public image of the organization.
The agency moved from a zero profile for the environment before the
1970s to high profile and procedural change by the late 1980s. Although
researchers and non-governmental organizations documented how its projects
were linked to environmental destruction, costs such as displacement, new
diseases, and salinization were not previously figured into the cost-benefit
ratios of projects with short lifespans.
International conferences in the 1970s and national laws gave visibility
to the issue. The agency established an office with a handful of staff
charged with developing new appraisal methods, educating staff, supplying
language for sectoral policies, funding projects and institution-building in
recipient countries, and coordinating efforts. Deemed irrelevant by many
staff, the environmental office was ghettoized in a senior office.
Minor changes occurred, even in country policy negotiations. The agency
frowned upon halting disbursement, however, on the grounds of national
sovereignty. Perhaps as important, countries sought diverse funding for large
projects. If the agency established too strict a set of standards, countries
would turn elsewhere, and funding opportunities would be lost. Internal
incentives drive staff to "move money".
Critical events during the 1980s propelled environmental momentum. The
driving factor was massive rain-forest destruction, with consequences for
indigenous people and the global climate, creating a public relations disaster
for the agency. The agency executive acknowledged a crisis and proceeded to
integrate reforms such as dramatic increases in specialist staff (assigned in
operations departments) and infusion into training curricula and country
reports. Some of its earlier appraisal procedural proposals were now in
demand. Yet environmental integration did not change the mainstream of this
agency in qualitative ways.
51. More needs to be known about organizational cultures, for there is no
"one best way" for women/gender advocates to pursue their mainstreaming
strategies. More information about organization cultures in sectoral or
poverty-alleviation agencies would lead to better diagnoses and prescriptions.
For example, staff trained in sociology and anthropology may bring
complementary perspectives to those of economists. In addition
gender-disaggregated analysis must be linked to the agency's central mission
and to higher performance.
C. Level and percentage of funding directed to women
52. United Nations development institutions ultimately affect people, male
and female. This impact should be considered when evaluating programme
outcomes. Institutions should be able to compare achievements and targeted
goals, both over time and to other institutions. Without knowledge of women's
participation in programmes and projects or of investments in women measured
in funding terms, it is difficult to assess what strategies are, in fact,
effective for mainstreaming gender in particular organizational cultures.
53. Unfortunately, serious evaluation of people-based outcomes that goes
beyond accountancy, is a relatively underdeveloped feature. No standardized
format exists across United Nations agencies for reporting
gender-disaggregated data so they can measure their progress over time and
compare themselves to other agencies. Gender-disaggregated budgeting,
monitoring and evaluation represent a major challenge to policies and projects
designed on the assumption that everyone in a household benefits from
development projects, male and female alike.
1. Beyond women-specific projects and funds
54. Women's activities usually fall in the category of "women-specific
projects", generally small and not necessarily linked to mainstream
institutional spending. The budgetary resources placed at the disposal of
women/gender offices are also usually very small. If anything, details of
such budgetary outlays probably underestimate women's participation in, and
agency spending on, development outcomes. If institutions are to take
mainstreaming seriously, evaluation offices must document women's
participation beyond women-specific programming. If little or no
participation or documentation exists, action may be driven by a crisis such
as that discussed in box I.2.
55. Women-specific projects usually constitute a minuscule percentage of
total projects, whether assessed as a proportion of total projects or of total
funds disbursed. Women's projects are easy to identify but perhaps more
limited in impact. If gender-based activities are restricted to such
projects, the challenge to measure women's involvement in mainstream projects
2. Underdeveloped mainstream indicators
56. The level of activities and/or percentage of resources directed to women
is difficult to measure. The definition of women-centred programming may
itself be unclear across internal agency lines, with different units
presenting different data. Figures such as the percentage of projects
incorporating action on women, WID analytic work or the percentage of funding
of the advocacy unit compared to all funding are sometimes furnished, but such
figures do not indicate how much money is allocated to women or to activities
in which women share outcomes. External evaluations can be a source of
information on the level and nature of funding on gender. Such evaluations
have sometimes found that large shares of the resources reported are spent on
service delivery and materials. While the numbers of staff deployed for or
trained in gender are more easily counted and measured, this too does not
represent the whole picture of an agency's resource allocation for gender.
57. Moreover, analysis and action are not the same. What is proposed in
project design or country analysis will translate to implementation and
outcomes only with suitable systems to sustain the momentum. Such incentives
include establishing monitorable indicators for reporting in evaluations.
58. Discrepancies may also exist between women's visibility in documents and
action in the field. Monitoring such discrepancies through instruments such
as discrepancy reports or bar graphs may be useful. Such charts can trace the
process of the "fadeout", or gradual marginalization, of gender through the
project cycle, from the analysis stage to the stages of strategy design,
action and outcomes.
D. Towards consistent mainstream indicators
59. Some attempts have been made to categorize projects according to their
incorporation of women and women's interests (Kardam, 1991). Such
categorization represents a start, but more standardized annual reporting on
this and budgetary information is required. The move away from project to
programme and policy funding is likely to make this task more difficult.
60. With or without moves towards policy funding, existing budget categories
are not always amenable to people-oriented breakdowns. The traditional
classification of expenditures by personnel, training, subcontracts, and
miscellaneous items is obscure and needs to be replaced by more transparent
categories. In fact, present indicators are still too crude adequately to
assess the people-based and gender-based outcomes of development activities.
Most agencies continue to have low funding levels for women.
61. Categories such as the following may be useful in assessing the
gender-based impact of development interventions:
(a) Women-integrated programmes and projects;
(b) WID-relevant programmes;
(c) WID-specific programmes and projects;
(d) National capacity-building in WID.
62. Since 1990, 11 members of the OECD/DAC have been using a statistical
method, the creditor reporting system, to report disbursements for what they
call "WID-specific" and "WID-integrated" activities. The methodology has the
double objective of serving as a tool for statistical reporting, and serving
as an instrument for raising awareness about women in development. The
central principle of the methodology is registration of the total amount of a
project in statistical reports if certain criteria are met. On the creditor
reporting form, to be filled out for each project, there is room to indicate
whether a project is WID-specific or WID-integrated. This new system helps to
ensure that WID issues are introduced at the design and implementation stages,
where consideration of WID is most often neglected and which in turn
contributes substantially to inappropriate attention to WID during the entire
project cycle (OECD/DAC, 1993). This methodology has introduced important
elements for policy and implementation. Five other members planned to
introduce the methodology when the report was written. Other agencies should
examine the strengths and inadequacies of this innovative system and consider
adopting a similar mechanism or collaborating with one another to develop an
63. In future, a refined set of indicators for evaluation should distinguish
between various approaches, from welfare to equity, to efficiency and
empowerment, and between interventions for furthering practical gender needs
and those for furthering strategic gender needs. Social analysis and
evaluation units could make the qualitative difference in better documenting
such outcomes. Until resource reporting exists on a routine basis, little
will be understood about agency action beyond stated policy and process.
Women/gender offices need the leverage that such financial accountability
64. This chapter set the organizational contexts for analyses of United
Nations agencies and their gender-mainstreaming work. It established the
general patterns that differentiate agencies, including their era of creation,
missions, structures and sizes. Because of these differences, women/gender
advocates pursue diverse strategies in their efforts to integrate gender into
the mainstream of their home agencies.
65. The chapter called attention to organizational complexities in strategic
planning. The percentage of women professionals is increasing - a positive
step. But women alone cannot shoulder the responsibility for mainstreaming
gender, nor do all women seek to work on this issue. Men must share this
responsibility if agency policies are to be implemented and effectiveness is
66. Organizational culture is a useful concept for diagnosing and planning
for change. This chapter used the case-study of the organizational culture in
one agency for identifying mainstreaming strategies for a parallel
cross-sectoral issue (environmental sustainability). The pressure points,
organizationally specific ideologies and staff orientations seen in the case-
study provide insight into the conditions under which change occurs.
67. The chapter concluded by pointing out the paucity of information about
projects that respond to women, both in separate and integrated ways, and
about funding directed towards women. Information about people-oriented
results is also lacking, an obstacle which hinders gender-accountable
mainstreaming. Even though institutions are diverse in mission, size, and
other factors, simple and consistent United Nations system-wide standards must
be developed for reporting outcomes.
II. INSTITUTIONAL STRATEGIES
68. Most development institutions had or have a women/gender unit. This
chapter focuses on their institutional strategies. It first compares
structural locations and then moves on to policy documents. It compares
staffing strategies that range from training existing staff to recruiting more
women professionals. Most agencies also support formal or informal networking
to build, sustain, and increase allies within organizations. The chapter
closes with a discussion on evaluation.
A. Internal structures
69. Advocacy units vary considerably in terms of the structures and strategic
locations from which they work to transform agencies. The most common
structure involves a centralized unit, in which the women/gender unit reports
to a senior administrator and links to focal points in functional (sector) and
geographical (regional) units at headquarters and sometimes in the "field" of
world regions and countries. The amount of time devoted to gender by staff in
focal points ranges from full-time to part-time to "being volunteered" for an
extra responsibility: to monitor WID in the unit. If she is the lone
women/gender person, it is reasonable to expect some of the dynamics of
proportional underrepresentation to operate, as discussed in chapter I.
70. Agencies rely on single or multiple models for operationalizing
women/gender. A single package model aims for consistent standards across the
agency. It has the potential advantage of being able to set high expectations
and then to achieve and monitor the results. Its disadvantages stem from the
resistance of regional and operational staff who may not share in the
definition and ownership of the package. Such resistance is typically
articulated by characterizing gender-sensitive efforts as "irrelevant" or
71. Under the multiple model, an agency asks the functional/geographical
units to define and label women/gender position(s), thereby providing them
with co-ownership and stake in the issue. Several agencies have dismantled
the central women/gender unit, replacing it with interdepartment task forces
or a gender team. Before introducing such a model, it is crucial to have
strong operational expertise and commitment to gender. If introduced
prematurely, gender policy could dissipate into the regional/technical
relativism that legitimizes inaction.
1. Historical lessons
72. In pioneering WID agencies, women/gender advocacy was situated near the
top of the agency pyramid, at headquarters rather than in the field. To be in
or near the chief executive's office conferred legitimacy and visibility.
Such positioning also served the public relations concerns of agencies eager
to demonstrate that "something was being done" at the beginning of the United
Nations Decade for Women. Quickly, however, advocates discovered the
necessity to move towards technical operations in policy-making, programme and
project design and implementation. Yet women/gender is a cross-sectoral
issue, struggling in sectoral-based bureaucracies.
73. In other settings, women's units grew out of home economics, a separate
unit of earlier vintage. This, however, institutionalized the traditional
ideologies of the gender division of labour, which keeps women's productive
work largely invisible. It was not until the field of home economics began
undergoing its own metamorphosis that this limitation was somewhat rectified.
2. Size, strength and authority
74. Women/gender units range in size from one to a dozen professionals in
mainstream agencies. None has a budget of more than several million dollars
(most have far less) in multibillion dollar mainstream agencies. None has
been empowered to halt disbursements or penalize staff for inattention to
women/ gender policy. Such authority rests with line managers who only
unevenly enforce the many procedural guidelines which have been put into place
for women/ gender.
75. Thus, women/gender units rely on persuasion, studies, expertise,
training, unevenly enforced procedures, and leveraged resources to integrate
or transform gender into mainstream efforts. In no case does this imply
significant power, authority, or leverage to transform agencies. The agencies
studied range from small organizations of less than 100 to those with more
than 5,000 staff. Added to these staff are numerous consultants, whose
connection with and knowledge of agency policies can be more tenuous than
those of regular staff.
76. Consequently, it is incumbent upon women/gender units to use
strategically the expertise, procedures, accountability mechanisms, and agency
ideology/policy as leverage and tools so that the better endowed parts of the
agency can pursue their mission in a gender-transformed way.
3. Natural allies
77. Under these conditions of minimal budgets, staff, and authority,
alliance-building strategies can help to engage other units and spread
interest and responsibility. This strategic activity is no easy task in
large, highly compartmentalized bureaucracies.
78. In several agencies, alliance-building is formalized through the
interdepartmental/division working or steering group comprised of senior
officials or their representatives. Such structures designate responsibility
to more than women/gender units. In a reversed pattern, women/gender staff
are appointed to mainstream committees, such as those entrusted with senior
appointments. Management thereby sends a legitimizing message to other
committee members and provides opportune space for women/gender advocacy to
79. Mutually beneficial alliances can maximize the quality of outcomes for
the whole agency. Successful interchange can occur, for example, between the
women/gender unit and the forestry unit of an agency for taking up
community-based forestry activities. In the health field, the inclusion of
more strategic gender issues can both help in, and be helped by, the widening
of the core agenda of an agency.
80. Periodic international meetings create opportunities to build alliances
within and across organizational boundaries. In mainstream and cross-sectoral
international conferences, gender-responsive resolutions provide the wedge for
alliance-building, co-ownership, and resource sharing in such areas as human
rights, democracy, non-governmental organization advocacy, and good
governance; environmental sustainability (under the alliance-centred acronym,
WED, for "women in environmentally sustainable development"); agrarian reform
and rural development; and community health.
81. International initiatives in mainstream or cross-sectoral issues provide
sector staff with an incentive to seek assistance from a women/gender unit in
order to respond in a quality, comprehensive way. When women/gender issues
are integrated into international resolutions, studies, and non-governmental
organization advocacy, the process educates and stimulates the "hesitator" or
"loyal bureaucrat" staff (to use the terminology of chapter I) to seek advice
for a new approach legitimized via sources other than the women/gender unit.
82. The recent concept of "human development" constitutes a rationale for
long-term investments in people, including women. This idea has received
impetus through UNDP's annual Human Development Reports in which women/gender
issues are woven throughout the narrative and tables. As the human
development index (HDI) shows, a country's development ranking may be
dramatically altered when adjusted for gender. The reports highlight women's
strategic interests, such as the reduction and elimination of women-specific
violence, though only a minority of countries collect and report such data.
However, at present there is little evidence that human development is the
B. Policy documents
83. Policies provide an opportunity to conduct a dialogue over the form,
justification and future of women/gender in an agency. They legitimize change
and help resocialize staff (perhaps the loyal bureaucrats, quick to respond to
cues rather than those who wait for "requirements"). More important is the
extent to which policies are communicated and infused into procedures and
84. In the normal sequence of activities, the women/gender unit develops a
policy statement or guidelines which can then promote action in the form of
procedural change, data collection, research, project design and training.
Document numbers in specific agencies range from one to 14. Over time, they
generally increase in specificity on operations. Frequently, boards create or
endorse these documents, adding legitimacy and leverage to what can be done
with the document.
85. The lack of a gender policy need not hinder activity in the women/gender
area. Agencies may, in some cases, decide to gain analytic and operational
experience before going through the process of formulating a policy document.
Agency chief executives may meanwhile help establish the principle that
attention to women/gender is necessary; gender units can then periodically
refer to these remarks for institutionally legitimizing their efforts.
However, more than executive speech-making may be ultimately necessary to
convince operational staff that women/gender meshes with the central mandate
of the agency.
86. On the other hand, even with WID guidelines in place, gender may still
occupy a marginal place in agency activities. Although ways to categorize
projects in terms of the integration of women may be clarified, such data may
not be easily accessible or reported. Thus, there is no necessary, sequential
relationship between policy and action.
C. Procedures and process
87. Agencies use a variety of common procedures, some of which were initiated
as far back as the 1970s. These include mandating gender-disaggregated data;
generating checklists and guidelines for the project design and preparation
process; producing and disseminating materials on how gender fits into the
technical mandate of the agency; and preparing operational guidelines on how
staff can make that fit real in programmes and projects. Operational
guidelines have been developed in some cases for gender analysis in project
formulation in core sectors, with practical tools for diagnosing, assessing,
investigating, and analysing. Several agencies also now generate
gender-disaggregated data, but those data need to be strategically used in
evaluating and assessing outcomes.
88. A small women/gender unit in a large agency may face the dilemma that the
extensive paperwork associated with guidelines compliance may not even be
read. If technical staff themselves do not learn from the procedure and
repeatedly sidestep full response, the women/gender unit may be doubly
burdened. Box II.1 describes a user-friendly form in a three-page format,
developed to invite technical staff to engage with the gender staff, while
simultaneously sending cues to them. Such forms are far less intimidating
than lengthy checklists on gender.
89. Women/gender staff have developed other techniques. One strategy is to
decentralize and spread expertise through focal points and gender-sensitive
consultants. Rosters of these experts are often maintained. Women/gender
units sometimes pay, wholly or in part, for such consultants. Some have
learned that other units value WID experts' work more when they pay for it
themselves or contribute a share.
Box II.1. User-friendly sectoral form
I. General considerations
1. Please state significant steps taken to incorporate women as contributors
to and beneficiaries of the project. Are women's needs and concerns reflected
in the project objectives, project outputs, and project activities?
2. Have women's organizations or organizations that promote the advancement
of women been involved in project planning and formulation? Explain the
extent of their participation.
3. How will the project strengthen the capability of existing institutions
to facilitate women's future participation in sector and development
II. Specific information regarding women as project participants and
beneficiaries and on the gender dimensions of data inputs, monitoring and
1. Are women direct participants in project activities? Please explain
steps taken to encourage more active roles for women and note any factors that
might impede their participation.
2. Are women involved as key decision makers or managers of project
activities? Please describe the decision-making or management roles they will
undertake, noting any factors that might impede this role.
3. Are women the direct or indirect beneficiaries of project activities?
How will they benefit? Indicate any factors that may impede women's access to
the benefits of the project.
4. Please indicate the gender breakdown of those involved in the project as:
Project experts Consultants Trainees
5. In preparing this project, were gender-disaggregated background data
available? Please indicate the type of data and sources utilized.
6. Does the monitoring and evaluation mechanism provide for the assessment
of the project impact on women? How?
III. Other comments/observations
Any additional thoughts you have would be welcome.
Thanks for completing this form!
D. Gender training
90. In the 1980s, when many agencies shifted from women-specific to
mainstreaming approaches, advocates worked to develop gender training for male
and female staff. Training usually consists of short, two-to-three day
courses and hands-on learning techniques that provide a framework into which
staff can plug their post-training work tasks.
91. Several training approaches are utilized. In the Harvard case approach,
most relevant for project design and evaluation, a gender analysis is
conducted of work, resources and control structures, with specific case
materials. In the gender planning model, whole institutions and their
missions are diagnosed. In a grassroots model, such as the Peasant Women's
Summits supported by UNIFEM in South Asia, rural dwellers train planners,
policy makers, and other staff. Yet another model engages staff to confront
the personal prejudices they may hold about women.
92. The 1991 conference on gender training, held in Bergen, Norway, showcased
a variety of successful gender-training experiences. Two of them included
bilateral agencies considered to be institutional success stories at the time
- Canada and Sweden - which mandated gender training for their staff (Rao and
1. Positive training experiences
93. The majority of agencies compared in this report stress gender training
as a strategic tool, in current and future plans. Typically, training is a
two-stage affair: in the first, a generic package is used to educate staff in
gender approaches; in the second, agency staff ground this training in
operationally specific and concrete terms, using their own cases. In agencies
where gender training is institutionalized, trainees generally view it
favourably. However, good training is costly.
94. Some promising gender-training programmes for agencies and government
staff in various development sectors involve country-based women/gender
trainers. UNIFEM has organized region-based sessions, co-sponsored by or in
collaboration with country and regional institutions. In one, co-sponsored by
the African Development Bank, senior bureaucrats considered gender training in
their institutions. In another, it supported a national agrarian research
institute to design and implement gender training for governmental and
non-governmental organizations (Anderson, 1993).
95. The concept of people-oriented planning is sometimes used to accomplish
the goal of gender training. "People-driven programming builds stakes and
diminishes the anxieties some staff seem to have with the discourse of
women/gender. Staff tend to view it as efficient, common-sensical
programming, rather than the "cultural intervention" still evoked by some
about women/gender. When gender training is conducted in-country,
governmental officials are usually not just supportive but enthusiastic about
96. Socio-economic and gender analysis (SEGA) training programmes constitute
a recent initiative in some agencies. The SEGA approach aims to increase
national and United Nations capacity to apply socio-economic and gender
analysis to formulating gender-responsive, pro-poor, and environmentally and
socially sustainable projects and programmes. It also aims to increase the
number of indigenous trainers. Like the "people-driven" model above, this
strategy permits the alliance of people-oriented forces to work with gender,
without losing visibility for the latter. Combining forces is also a
cost-effective strategy for units that chronically lack resources.
Coordinated efforts are valuable but difficult to achieve with different
agency cultures, philosophies, technical languages, and time-frames.
2. Rethinking gender training
97. In terms of the four categories of staff discussed in the chapter above,
"loyal bureaucrats" and "hesitators" may benefit most from training.
"Innovators" probably do not need training. "Resistors" likely need far more
than a few days training to unearth the difficulties they have with
women/gender work. The proportional representation of these kinds of staff
will vary with organizational culture, particularly the background preparation
that differs, for example, between health and agricultural staff.
98. Gender training is increasingly being institutionalized. Although
considered useful in several agencies and academic settings, some such
training is being reduced by agencies, out of a perception that it has
diminishing returns. Managers are sometimes reluctant to release male staff
for training, or if released, staff may be recalled before the training is
completed. Elsewhere, training is now reaching the hard core resistant staff,
who are the least likely to learn from the experience and may create a
3. Mainstreaming gender training
99. With these sorts of difficulties, it is all the more important to plan
strategically for integration into regular training activities. Such
incorporation is key to successful alliance-building. From the 1991 gender
training conference in Bergen, several of the United Nations agencies analysed
herein report some incorporation in their mainstream training institutes,
estimated to occupy 5-25 per cent of training time. A few agencies are now
considering ways to link gender with cultural sensitivity training for
managers. Successful examples link gender training with people-oriented
concerns. The more that technical staff build such concerns into their work,
the better development is likely to be.
100. Training can be tied to personnel accountability strategies, including
those incentives and penalties to which staff respond in their work.
Mandating staff training and rewarding training or recognizing its reflection
in improved work through personnel evaluations can promote staff receptivity
to gender training.
101. Accountability strategies must be stretched to include consultants, who
are responsible for much work in the field. Agencies face chronic
difficulties dealing with untrained contractors who implement projects. To
respond, some women/gender units provide rosters of consultants knowledgeable
and experienced in gender work.
102. Trainees' behaviour does not change in unsupportive work contexts. Two
days of training cannot undo lifetimes of gender stereotyped ideology.
Trainees should be required to develop plans of work during training.
Thereafter, a supportive post-training context is crucial for putting training
into practice. Likewise, gender training should be linked to tasks, projects,
and follow-up to assess behavioral outcomes.
E. More women professionals
103. United Nations agencies regularly collect data on the breakdown of male
and female professionals they employ. While project/programme accountability
measures are still underdeveloped, personnel offices can provide data on equal
employment opportunity (EEO). Although levels are categorized in different
ways, most agencies have good data on the percentage of women professionals at
top and midlevels, and in headquarters and in regional and country-level
offices. Such reporting can potentially assist in laying down and monitoring
1. Unmet United Nations equal employment opportunity targets
104. Just a few agencies studied in this report employ females as a third of
their professionals. Women are always less well represented at the highest
levels, although several United Nations agencies are female-headed. In the
agencies studied, women professionals are virtually always less well
represented in the field of regional and country offices. Such
underrepresentation does not bode well for action on women/gender in those
agencies where country programming represents the central focus of operations,
if women are the only advocates. For professional couples, headquarters
locations may offer more opportunities for spouses.
2. Making male staff responsible for gender
105. Questions and analyses about EEO assume that women are more likely to
support women/gender programming. Those who work in agencies sometimes
question those assumptions. Neither men nor women are monolithic in their
support for, or resistance to, women/gender programming. If responsibilities
for women/ gender programming fall solely on women's shoulders, then
mainstreaming will take generations to achieve.
106. Women/gender units in several agencies have positioned male gender
experts in strategic locations. Personnel decisions like this help underline
the point that the unit addresses quality, comprehensive programming and more
than EEO goals. Moreover, men allies have been crucial in several agencies
which have moved far in mainstreaming women/gender concerns. Examples include
(male) chief executives and authors of high-visibility reports.
107. Personnel procedures can signal, recognize and reward action on women/
gender. Personnel evaluations and career ladders are ways to encourage staff.
Even women staff may distance themselves from WID, without a promising career
ladder (Himmelstrand, 1990). Commendation letters can be issued for positive
action on EEO. The same could be done on mainstreaming women/gender in
projects and programmes. In personnel evaluation forms, cues can be inserted
for promoting action on women/gender. Such cues, where they exist, may not
change behaviour significantly without institutional commitment. For example,
obtaining reports from staff about the inclusion of women/gender in a project
and then regularly tolerating the routine response of "irrelevant" will send
3. Linking EEO and multidisciplinary hiring to mainstreaming
108. Those agencies with more women appear to have moved further in
mainstreaming gender. To some extent, this positive profile relates to agency
missions, such as health, women, or population. Staff balancing strategies
are long-term in nature, involving academic training and affirmative action.
109. Strategic plans to increase female representation require multiple,
long-term strategies. The gender focal point in one agency sponsored work
force assessments that showed "supply/demand" budgetary gaps amounting to a
third of a million dollars, in addition to the annual training budgetary
requirement. The analysis led to the formulation of a strategy which supports
female training "fellow"ships, educates staff visually through posters,
promotes gender-neutral language, develops on-the-job training, facilitates
women's networks, and prints career guides. This comprehensive EEO strategy
was developed in a particularly challenging environment. The strategy builds
a database that is central to agency mission and future health.
110. Agencies with the best EEO record are those with health and population
missions. Yet health agencies face other personnel challenges: medical
doctors sometimes establish a hierarchical distance between themselves and
other professional staff. Such challenges are equally problematic for other
agencies in view of their gender imbalance.
111. Both the training and EEO sections of this report call attention to the
long-term preparation of women and professionals with women/gender expertise
in their pre-institutional life, that is during their university education.
Far more complex gender analysis is possible in semester-long course work and
major programs than workshops. Some strategies have been developed in
response. For example, the agricultural extension curriculum in training
institutions can be reviewed for its gender content. Diversifying the skill
mix of staff by including gender experts can enrich the work of an
organization. As more agencies recruit staff with WID expertise, demand will
be created for "gendered" curricula in academia, which is the primary source
of pre-institutional training for most United Nations professionals.
F. Networking with agency personnel
112. Networking is a strategy to build allies and to disseminate information
about successful and not-so-successful efforts. Many agencies support
networking through formal and informal means. Several examples below
demonstrate the creativity used to build connections between staff over
1. Internal networking
113. Agencies disseminate information on women/gender in mainstream
newsletters and house journals. For example, a WID/Link newsletter
disseminates innovations to readers in one agency. Another institution is
home to an informal network, the Action Group for Equality, with an in-house
newsletter, dealing not just with gender but with all types of equality
issues. An internal network called "Fifty-Fifty" has been created in one
organization for dialogue, reading material, and videos. Another organization
maintains a phone list and organizational chart of its formal and informal
connections. The catchy acronym GAP (gender and poverty) distinguishes an
informal group in another agency. Several agencies have renamed their
networking efforts to make them more inclusive of men and women.
2. External networking
114. External networking occurs in those agencies with the mandate of
connecting with non-governmental organizations at the international and
national levels. For example, reports may be commissioned to link human
rights with the sectoral mandate of an agency. Health agencies are
particularly well-networked with international non-governmental organizations.
115. As agencies move increasingly into country programming and interaction
with national advocacy strategies, local women and women-friendly
organizations must be included in dialogue on gender-sensitive policy-making.
A number of United Nations agencies have established good, strong precedents
for this dialogue and participation. Increasingly, mainstream documents
emphasize democracy and good governance. Human Development Report 1993, for
example, focuses on people's participation, including women's participation.
116. Evaluation procedures provide signals to and incentives for data
collection during projects and programmes that have the potential to document
gender in development outcomes. Such signals and incentives affect
implementation processes for managers.
117. Many agencies now recognize the need for "monitorable indicators" during
the design phases of development work. However, the design phase, on which
women/gender units have concentrated much attention, has not always been
linked to the implementation and evaluation phases. Terms of reference do not
routinely include WID issues. Evaluation reports may not assess the degree
and quality of women's involvement. In part, this is due to the fragmented
work process in bureaucratic agencies.
118. Strategically, both design and evaluation are linked. Data must be
categorized and collected on the degree to which gender is relevant, included,
and/or integrated into projects. Gender indicators should be threaded
throughout evaluation guidelines, and software developed to report regularly
on agency action regarding gender. In most agencies, gender-disaggregated
data requirements have finally sunk into procedures. Now it is up to the
agencies to stimulate the strategic use of these data.
119. The responsibility for ensuring this rests with the evaluation units,
which should be empowered to establish accountability for the human
development successes and failures of their agencies. To do so, more
people-oriented indicators, presently sorely lacking in many development
institutions, need to be developed.
120. Conditions exist to assess outcomes on gender within and across agencies.
Inter-agency collaborations on evaluation offer a setting in which to dialogue
over the appropriate indicators and measures of outcomes and to report
findings. Evaluation units have a stake in documenting outcomes and impacts,
from which lessons can be learned and then fed into future programme and
project design. As such, evaluation represents strategic leverage for
121. What do these strategies tell us about agency-wide accountability for
accomplishing gender-balanced outcomes or documentable results on women/gender
policies? We know that after many years of effort, conditions are in place to
use data collection, design procedures, personnel policies, training,
networks, and evaluation procedures to spread responsibility from the
typically small women/gender office to the entire agency, where that
122. With planning, design, and gender-disaggregated data requirements now in
place, advocates should seize the opportunity to connect these to evaluation
activity. Evaluation units have the potential to connect outcomes with
individual and agency-wide accountability. The units can produce analysis
that will draw lessons for programme/project improvement. Reports on
women/gender should emanate from evaluation offices, while continuing to
support operational and technical units that generate data, research and
studies relevant to women/gender.
123. Accountability is linked both to monitoring and evaluation procedures
that provide relevant information on people-oriented outcomes and the quality
of programmes generally. One strategy is to include women/gender experts on
monitoring and evaluation teams. Much still remains to be done to establish
agency-wide accountability and for documenting behaviour and outcomes that are
responsive to women as well as men. Cases from the field show just what can
be accomplished, as chapter III outlines.
III. CASES FROM THE FIELD
124. Technical assistance is ultimately meaningful only if programmes and
projects begin to become accountable to women. While we do not have good
information on the extent to which agencies include women or on results that
benefit women, we do now have a track record of more and less successful
projects and programmes.
125. This chapter examines cases of projects and programmes in three different
ways. First, government action towards women is examined within institutions
and between institutions and women's groups. Secondly, successful and less
successful projects are compared in the framework of targeting versus
mainstreaming approaches. Few detailed examples of successful mainstream
projects are reported in United Nations agencies. Finally, successful and
less successful projects are considered in terms of meeting women's practical
versus strategic gender needs.
A. Government commitment
126. Detailed information about governmental actions which facilitate more or
less successful response is extremely limited. While countries now widely
have a women's machinery, women's sections of political parties, women's or
women-friendly non-governmental organizations, and/or support for CEDAW,
little is known about the degree to which gender is central to the efforts of
mainstream government ministries and departments.
127. Government ministries and departments match the diversity of the United
Nations agencies in this study. They have distinctive missions, cultures, and
operating styles, which are not necessarily responsive to the voices of
peoples or non-governmental organizations generally. On the whole,
decision-making inside bureaucracy is relatively closed to outsiders' eyes.
Several national Governments have created institutional structures responsible
for WID policies and projects in the form of "women's machineries". Whether
they are separate from or part of ministries/departments in various
Governments, women's machineries are typically units with low budgets and
limited staff that are expected to transform a whole institution, or in some
cases a whole Government. Similar choices, strategies, and obstacles confront
such machineries. Like the women/gender units in agencies, they need support
from other staff and resources to integrate or mainstream gender. The
existence of these women-specific structures may inadvertently contribute to
the side-lining rather than the mainstreaming of women/gender into operations.
However, separate women/gender units are compatible with effective
mainstreaming. Their effectiveness depends on the institutional strategy and
their placement in the hierarchy as well as on their technical competence.
128. The cases below, presented in boxes, illustrate examples of successful
and unsuccessful mainstreaming. The first case comes from a published source.
Including such internal institutional strategies in the documentation of
activities by United Nations agencies would be quite useful for drawing
lessons for future applications. The second case, while unsuccessful,
demonstrates the potentials of linkage between women-specific programming in
relation to mainstreaming activities.
129. What we learn from the case in Box III.1 resembles the effective
institutional strategies pursued in agencies, as outlined in chapter II.
First, the women's advocate built a new idea around existing institutional
missions and structures, making those missions more efficient and effective.
Not coincidentally, ministry effectiveness would also empower women
economically and politically. Secondly, she developed allies, including
strategically placed men (both innovators and loyal bureaucrats), who soon
realized that these new efforts would enhance their own career success.
Thirdly, she set meaningful targets (50 per cent), along with a monitoring
system that would document progress. Periodic reports of limited goal
achievement (40 per cent) could then be used to stimulate stronger efforts.
The second and third points demonstrate a use of personnel and evaluation
accountability mechanisms. Finally, for this regional effort to scale up and
outward to the rest of the country, networks have been developed with advocacy
organizations and senior officials. As all these points show, women farmers
and advocates work with men and together share the ownership of this new
Box III.1 Successful mainstreaming in a Ministry of Agriculture
A conservative, male-dominated Ministry of Agriculture successfully
mainstreamed activities for women farmers in the western province of a
southern African country. Before this programme, the Government broadly
supported women's development, but few concrete operational programmes were in
With minimal resources and a single staff person, several committed men
and women strategically used data from a field study to persuade those in
existing units of the bureaucracy to bring mobile training to women, including
training in oxen ploughing; to mobilize groups of women farmers for the visits
of extension workers; and to generate a demand-driven agricultural extension
system. The Women's Extension Program (WEP) is a successful effort (Jiggins,
with Maimbo and Masona, 1992).
WEP was born amid a special rice-growing project which included a woman
extension officer recruited to survey women farmers about their work,
contributions to rice production, and access to agricultural services. Her
data and expertise helped open up discussion on women farmers whose work in
food security and family welfare was previously invisible to the largely male
extension staff. The expert enlisted help from Mrs. M, an animal husbandry
officer, who believed that mobilizing groups of women farmers would facilitate
interaction with male staff. After some successes, managers became convinced
that more strategic interventions would institutionalize large-scale change.
Mrs. M, sole staff person in WEP, was located in the home economics
section but attached to the Extension Training Programme. Short courses were
added to the existing training programme, and mobile courses for women took
oxen-plough and other training directly to women. Mrs. M's influence was
based on persuasion and cooperation rather than formal power, and bureaucratic
context shaped the way the programme worked. She built networks of
understanding and support with other sections.
The group method was formally adopted as part of a provincial-level
People's Participation Project (PPP).
130. The case in Box III.2 shows an unsuccessful case involving women's
machinery as it connects to other ministries for mainstreaming aims.
Together, both cases occurred in countries wherein government commitment
seemed similar, based on superficial information. Such superficial
information about government gender commitments abounds in the form of reports
about the existence of women's machinery or the ratification of CEDAW. What
is needed is more in-depth knowledge of institutions, their gendered policy
agendas, and the ways they connect with gender advocacy.
Box III.2. A Women's Bureau is unsuccessful at mainstreaming
The promise to build capacity in a Women's Bureau was not realized in a
western African country. The aim of the project was to strengthen the
Bureau's technical expertise; to improve its research, data collection, and
documentation capability; and to strengthen its ability to implement research
and programmes for women. The Bureau achieved some successes in guiding
gender-sensitive planning with more reliable data.
The Government was broadly supportive of women's development, as the
creation of the Women's Bureau indicates. A relatively new entity, the Bureau
was unable to position itself as the national authority on women in a way
relevant to macro-economic planning. When it called meetings, sectoral
ministries sent low-level representatives, perhaps reflecting superficial
Management problems in the Bureau undermined its monitoring capacity to
achieve goals. Lacking sufficient resources, Bureau staff could not complete
tasks once international personnel left. It tried to do too much, from
advocacy to legislation to implementation, before it had sufficient
Ultimately, the Women's Bureau was abolished. Had the Bureau been able
to leverage macro-economic planning within sectoral ministries, or had a
national development plan for women provided policy guidelines, perhaps the
Bureau would have survived and thrived.
131. Women's machinery, like women/gender advocacy offices, cannot be all
things to all people. When staff and resources are limited, strategies must
be carefully chosen so that ultimately all parts of government, like all parts
of an agency, are accountable to women. This west African Women's Bureau is a
microcosm case of the structural dynamics women's advocacy faces.
B. Mainstreaming versus targeting
132. In the 1970s, specific women's projects seemed to guarantee that women
would finally benefit from development efforts. Small and sometimes welfare-
oriented, their impact was probably short-lived and lacked substantive effect
on national policy-making. Male preference in the mainstream continued.
133. Critics challenged the separatist approach, and women/gender advocates
went through a stage of defensiveness about separate women's efforts.
Instead, mainstreaming ideally seeks to integrate women in each and every
development sector. Mainstreaming is a strategy easier articulated than
realized. Organizational transformation is necessary to move from merely
mentioning women in design documents, to devising an actual plan or strategy
to involve them, and to implementation with monitorable indicators that will
provide evidence of outcomes for women.
134. Targeting can be defined both as women-specific and as special efforts
within mainstream projects and programmes to identify precise ways in which
women will be involved and to permit measurable goals to be monitored and
evaluated. Women's involvement should mean more than hiring a few female
staff, though this is what may "pass" as mainstreaming in the absence of
proper clarity and commitment about mainstreaming.
135. Despite the past defensiveness about women-specific efforts, ironically,
most of the successful activities which agencies report are targeted to women.
Women/gender advocates of the 1990s need to be less defensive about separate
women's efforts, for many have proved sustainable and have been linked to
mainstreaming efforts (Leonard, 1989). This is especially true for those
projects that emphasize female voice and agency in influencing policy. In
fact, targeting and mainstreaming are not mutually exclusive, but
complementary strategies. On the whole, more recent women-specific projects
are designed to link to the mainstream.
136. Mainstreaming, by one definition, implies multiple efforts within
projects and programmes to involve women and document those outcomes. It must
satisfy the following four criteria:
(a) Women from the recipient countries who will be participating in the
programme/project must be consulted in the design stage, with priority being
given to women of the target population. The project/programme document
should indicate how women were consulted;
(b) Women from the recipient countries who will be involved in the
programme/project must be active participants during implementation phase,
with priority given to the women of the target population; that is, the
document should make clear how women will be involved in implementation;
(c) Barriers to female participation must be identified in the document
and measures designed in order to overcome them;
(d) WID expertise must be utilized throughout the programme/project
cycle to ensure the full participation of women, and the document should make
clear how this expertise and the WID factors will be applied.
137. According to another account, the following four major elements have to
be taken into account if women are to be successfully integrated into
technical cooperation activities:
(a) First, the needs and interests of women must be considered at the
early stages of project formulation in order to eliminate discriminatory
(b) Secondly, the different needs of men and women must be analysed at
the design stage, and strategies developed for the benefits of both groups;
(c) Thirdly, at the implementation and evaluation stages, the different
impact of programme or project intervention to men and women must be analysed
and appropriate follow-up action developed;
(d) Fourthly, the active participation of women themselves and their
organizations in programme design and implementation contributes significantly
to the effectiveness of all technical cooperation activities.
138. Gender-targeting in programmes will always be required for certain
purposes. Cultural issues and sectoral missions may dictate targeting for
programme efficiency and effectiveness. Separate approaches are culturally
compatible in some countries. Gender-unique needs exist in selected health
interventions, making separate and targeted approaches sensible. Efforts to
reduce sexual assault are typically targeted. Humanitarian agencies that work
with refugees increasingly recognize the need to differentiate experiences and
programming by gender, for the special violence and sexual harassment women
may undergo. Without such targeting, consequences can become immediately
tragic, even fatal for women. Finally, legal literacy and empowerment efforts
are effective when introduced as targeted interventions.
139. In selected interventions, the discourse of mainstreaming implies the
existence of female majority users. Grameen and other community banks have a
track record for incorporating women. Microenterprise projects have
presumable ease in generating gender-disaggregated data on borrowers. A
poverty-alleviation project stressing the cultivation of cassava, a famine
crop for the poor, may succeed in reaching women farmers.
1. Successful targeting
140. Box III.3 illustrates an example of successful targeting in a United
Nations agency. This began as a women-specific effort which was later scaled
up to a sustainable activity. This successful targeting effort shows that
flexible project design, good management and accountability are as important
for women-specific efforts as they are for mainstreamed efforts. In parallel,
outside women's advocacy efforts facilitated project upscaling and
sustainability. The project was thus able to widen its scope to deal more
comprehensively with women's lives.
Box III.3. Successful, sustainable targeting
A district-level project in a South Asian country for training women in
sericulture by establishing mulberry plantations and rearing silk-worms
expanded from a more narrow income-generating approach into one which
mobilized groups and established linkage to other programmes, such as health
activities. The project gave women more income, saving them from poverty and
reducing their dependence on moneylenders. The formation of women's groups
was part of the expanded strategy to ensure project sustainability.
Management flexibility was key to the success of this project. Regular
monitoring and reporting activities provided signals to project staff to
address problems before they became insurmountable. Flexibility also allowed
the project to evolve from primarily addressing practical gender needs to
addressing more strategic gender needs.
The success of the project has turned the earlier small-scale effort
a larger, bank-funded national project with the potential for considerably
wider impact on women. With or without funding, these women's groups now
exercise more leverage for linkage to other programmes and women are better
able to control their lives.
141. In three other examples of successful targeting by a sectoral agency in
three world regions, the prime indicator of success was that men wanted to
join efforts. This demonstrates the importance of economically viable efforts
which have the broad appeal necessary for sustainability.
142. Another gender-sensitive agency supported a series of model projects
which have moved from the narrow focus of health - with some educational
components - to a broader focus on income-generation and women's advocacy.
The specificity of the mandate of some United Nations agencies constrains
their ability to act on synergies, which may limit their potential for
success. One exemplary project set the scene for multiple agencies to
interact with and be responsive to their female clientele in the following
Informal working groups will be established which will comprise health
officials, agricultural extension workers, inland fisheries officials,
and non-formal education officials from the provincial level downwards.
The working groups will assist the women's committees to design,
implement, and manage small-scale income generating/community development
Project funding also leveraged sustained resource commitment from government
Upon completion of the project, the Ministry of Public Health has agreed
to maintain and support all women's committee community development
revolving funds initially established during the project life-time, as
well as to explore with various administrative and technical units
whether additional financial and technical resources can be made
2. Unsuccessful targeting
143. Several agencies support small projects for women with limited funding
and impact that are ultimately unsustainable. These projects merely allow
agencies to advertise that they "do something" for women/gender.
144. Agencies offered specific examples of problematic cases. One Latin
American agricultural project targeted women as 30 per cent of credit
recipients. Evaluations revealed that husbands obliged their wives to obtain
loans from which they benefited leaving the wives in debt. In another agency,
women defaulted at an unacceptably high rate for credit designed to generate
income. It was realized that the project design did not sufficiently address
women's laborious domestic duties which ultimately interfered with their
3. Successful mainstreaming: non-governmental organizations
145. Mainstreaming can occur in both government and non-government efforts.
Not all non-governmental organizations are women-friendly, and some focus on
women narrowly as mothers in need of welfare. Given the extensive partnership
that exists between some United Nations agencies and non-governmental
organizations, it is useful to explore both governmental and non-governmental
efforts for mainstreaming.
146. Box III.4 illustrates the case of a large financial institution, with a
long track record of supporting women. More recently, its mission focuses on
females in all life-cycle stages. This case demonstrates an effectively
managed model that recruits women and girls of different ages into human
development. Programme efforts recognize the resource constraints of poor
families and the ways those constraints particularly disadvantage females.
Incentives are provided to address the resource-based "cultural" problems that
result in less education for girls. Both graduates (and their families) and
successful goals will help drive the demand for a public school system that
serves its users more equitably.
Box III.4. A non-governmental organization successfully mainstreams
A large non-governmental organization, already recognized
for its rural development, credit, and health programmes, initiated a
non-formal primary education programme for children that the public school
system does not reach in a South Asian country. Girls were given special
emphasis, because they drop out of schools earlier than boys, parents invest
less in their education, and the majority of adult females are illiterate in
These non-formal schools draw about two-thirds female students, taught
non-governmental organization trained and monitored teachers, two thirds of
whom are also female. The non-governmental organization supplies student and
teacher materials, and school hours are flexibly adapted to daily work lives
to reduce income loss to families. Graduation rates are high, and a large
proportion of graduates are admitted to higher levels of public education.
Although girls are mainstreamed as students in the schools, mainstreaming in
public education remains problematic. This case constitutes a low-cost model
for increasing girls' schooling, but remaining challenges involve an
inflexible public school system unsuited to female needs.
4. Successful mainstreaming: governmental initiatives
147. Few examples exist of successful mainstreaming in government programmes
and projects, from design through implementation. Box III.5 is based on a
comprehensively designed project that was the result of interaction between
the agency's women/gender unit and the project design team to identify
criteria for a fully integrated project.
Box III.5. Mainstreaming with the Ministry of Agriculture and
An agricultural investment project proposal in the southern region of a
West Asian country integrates women in a way that should demonstrate
mainstreaming, once implementation is under way. Its timing takes advantage
of a reformed extension system in the Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian
Reform, now designed to be bottom-up in approach with ongoing data collection
from farmers on their needs and activities.
Not only does a women's component exist for training and participation,
but women's participation is threaded throughout all key components of the
project. Targets for women are set in such activities as credit and training
at levels comparable to their level of and potential for activity in the
region (50 per cent). The Women's General Union, a popular organization, was
involved in the design of the project and is expected to play a role in its
implementation. Regular monitoring and evaluation reports go directly to a
top management coordinating committee, in strategic positions to identify
shortcomings and act on them. Job descriptions for virtually all consultants,
not just the women's component, specify the requirement for gender awareness
and experience - for example in extension, livestock husbandry, milk and dairy
products processing, beekeeping, and small enterprises. All data are required
to be gender disaggregated. Specific references to women and gender, of which
there are many, are supplemented with activities known to be women-friendly,
such as on-site and mobile training. The project promises to be a model for
148. This mainstream project demonstrates full and comprehensive attention to
gender in productive, advocacy, and technical aspects. Even though large
agencies are fragmented, the signals to managers and evaluators during
implementation should be so clear and concise that women's full involvement is
guaranteed. The project builds on opportune reform in the Ministry for a
bottom-up approach, making it probable that Ministry officials will be eager
to demonstrate their commitment to the organizational mission in a way that
reflects positively on their personnel performance. Women also had a voice in
the project right from the design stage; plans are firmly in place to sustain
that voice through implementation. Male and female consultants alike will be
required to have gender expertise, for all sectors and phases of the project.
5. Unsuccessful mainstreaming
149. The above successful example is one of the rare examples of a truly
mainstreamed project in a large development agency. Unsuccessful
mainstreaming is characterized by superficial and/or minuscule targeting. One
chronic problem is that women are given only brief mention, followed up with
the inclusion of an unambitiously targeted level of female trainees or with
several female consultants. Women's components of large projects suffer from
some of the same problems for which earlier welfare efforts were criticized:
they have limited productive value, consume too much time, and are not
150. Agency reports made brief mention of other problematic examples.
Insufficient attention to distance and time constraints faced by women may
result in project failure. For example, in one project, the activities were
too far from the village for women to attend safely while still retaining
family honour. In an agricultural project women's workload increased by
2-5 hours per day without income returns. A driving efficiency orientation,
even in poverty alleviation agencies, could routinely produce these kinds of
results. Agencies have yet to adequately address the important issue of
women's control over income from their labour, even though "incentives for
labour" are commonly recognized in programmes designed for men.
C. Practical versus strategic gender needs
151. Development practitioners increasingly distinguish between practical and
strategic gender interests. Practical interventions address women's needs in
poverty, in crisis, and in labour-intensive work burdens. Strategic
interventions address the causes of female subordination.
152. Interventions that address practical needs are quite necessary in a world
where people have compelling needs which, if unmet, have tragic consequences.
For example, legal advocacy, which meets strategic gender needs, will not put
food into a hungry person's mouth the day she needs that food. For some
agencies, interventions aimed at addressing practical gender needs may in
themselves be a big step forward from their ongoing work. Agencies engaged in
humanitarian and relief work, for example, are only now beginning to make the
leap from their traditional activities to more development-oriented activities
that would better equip refugee women and girls for their future lives on
their return home. The successful case described in box III.6 illustrates the
development role of humanitarian agencies in initiating activities to address
practical gender needs such as girls' education.
153. It would, however, be a mistake to treat practical and strategic needs as
154. Practical gender needs remain the likely focus of most agencies.
However, it is promising that terms like these are increasingly understood and
used perhaps prompting movement from practical to strategic interests when
opportunities are available. More and more, agencies articulate strategic
activities that supplement practical ones. Even traditional sectoral
organizations openly discuss legal and political change. Two of the four
"spheres of influence", published and disseminated in the FAO Plan of Action
(1990), are quite apt:
Civil status seeks to improve the legal and attitudinal climate [while]
decision-making seeks to increase women's involvement in decision-making
through greater participation in institutions and people's organizations
to train women in the skills needed to play a greater role in national
and local-level policy.
Humanitarian organizations, once solely service delivery in orientation, now
stress income generation, improved productivity and employment. Emergency
relief organizations make the reduction of sexual assault and violence against
women a significant part of their agenda. Sexual violence is treated as a
violation of international law.
155. Agencies put girls' education and the revision of education curricula in
their mission, linking it to high-visibility events such as the Year of the
Girl Child in 1990. Several agencies work extensively with international and
national non-governmental organizations, as part of concerted efforts to
change national policies. UNICEF's State of the World's Children, 1992 calls
for an end to the "apartheid of gender", drawing an analogy to the infamous
and abhorred racial apartheid.
156. Box III.6 outlines a successful strategic gender-needs project. While
women-specific in approach, it has probable long-term consequences for
changing gender subordination through curricular interventions.
157. Both practical and strategic gender needs must be addressed. Long-term
changes in policy, law, and curricula can address the root causes of
subordination that stifle productivity and human development. Strategic
gender interventions have a place in policy dialogue between Governments and
development agencies. Until now, strategic interventions have been
women-specific rather than mainstreamed into these policy exchanges.
Box III.6. Development role of humanitarian agencies
Ten-year-old Fatima stands in front of her class reciting a poem by an
Afghan refugee about their homeland. Another child conducts a choir of girls
singing in Pushtu, Afghanistan's national language. For the first time in
their lives these children are getting an education.
The four schools for girls in the refugee camp at Nasir Bagh are built
from compacted clay. The pupils share some old textbooks, one copy between
two girls. They sit cross-legged on carpets wearing blue and white uniforms,
their satchels carefully placed behind them.
"I never went to school in Afghanistan", one girl says, "but here I'm
learning history, religion and arithmetic". "I'm learning Pushtu and Urdu
(Pakistan's national language)", comments another, while a third girl says
firmly that for her, school is the finest thing in life.
158. This chapter highlights promising shifts in technical assistance from
practical to strategic gender interests and from small-scale targeting to
large-scale and mainstreamed activities. The cases point to how the strategic
use of procedures and accountability measures can benefit both women and men.
159. Success hinges on the commitment of Governments and healthy civil
society. When Governments recognize the benefits of gender-responsive
approaches, an opening is created to support local change initiatives. UNIFEM
maintains that effective advocacy requires that women have the tools to hold
their Governments accountable and that Governments have the tools to be
accountable. It adopted a three-pronged strategy which entails:
(a) Enabling women at the grass-roots level to advocate effectively for
gender-responsive development programming;
(b) Assisting Governments in integrating these demands into macro-level
policy and planning;
(c) Bringing these women at the grass-roots level together with the
policy makers and planners who govern their lives.
160. Non-governmental organizations are an obvious entry-point but need
strengthening. A healthy civil society leads to more accountable government.
However, engagement with government is also necessary. As the Human
Development Report, 1993 points out, the internationally renowned Grameen
Bank, a non-governmental organization, accounts for just 0.1 per cent of
national credit in Bangladesh. It is a reminder of a stark reality:
non-governmental organizations can supplement government but never replace it.
161. Once Governments indicate their commitment and willingness to incorporate
a gender perspective, strategies can proceed. If such approaches are
consistently used across agencies, the impact from the 1990s onward may be
IV. FROM MAINSTREAMING TO ACCOUNTABILITY
162. This chapter draws on lessons learned about the challenge that confronts
women/gender advocates in the 1990s and beyond and makes recommendations for
the closing years of this century.
A. Lessons learned: towards increased demand
for gender approaches
163. In general, despite policy commitments, more staff and increased
resources, not all organizations have seriously institutionalized the
mainstreaming of women/gender into their missions. For the past two decades
advocates have used a more process-oriented inputs approach, based on gender
guidelines, policies, training, and hoped-for gender diversity among
professionals. Advocates have supplied inputs, though demand for such inputs
has been weak. A strong foundation has been built to translate knowledge into
operational terms. The burden should now be on institutions, not simply
advocacy offices, to demonstrate results.
164. Efficiency and poverty-alleviation approaches have been used to make the
work of development agencies more effective. These approaches integrate
institutions but do not transform their technical core in ways that equity and
empowerment approaches would (Lotherington, 1991). Welfare approaches
continue, for they address women's practical needs and minimize the discomfort
with which hesitant staff work on gender.
165. Large agencies represent a special challenge to women/gender advocacy.
They are, bureaucratically speaking, the worst case scenarios in development:
hierarchical, compartmentalized, and fragmented among other organizational
issues. Sector agencies dominated by staff who have been educated in
disciplines with ideologies that blind them to women's work represent another
challenge. Yet change and momentum have developed, even in these agencies.
Smaller agencies with missions most compatible with a focus on women or on
women's empowerment are at the cutting edge of development assistance, whose
efforts will guide other institutions. Health, population, and humanitarian
agencies have developed comprehensive approaches, consistent with their
mandates, that take both practical and strategic gender interests into
166. As the comparison of institutional strategies shows, there is no "one
best process" for mainstreaming. Organizational cultures must be understood,
and strategies developed within those contexts. Yet the multitude of these
strategies have focused on process and inputs rather than on set goals for
results that would increase activity and expenditure on an annual basis. As
the third decade of advocacy begins, process approaches should be supplemented
with outcomes approaches. Despite their different organizational cultures,
agencies should be expected to regularly report gender activity and
expenditures, through their evaluation units to their secretariat or to their
lead women's mainstreaming agency.
167. Imposing rigorous expectations upon agencies as a whole will generate
demand for the process-oriented inputs already put into place by women/gender
units. Ultimately professionals must stretch and learn to perform their jobs
effectively. Their work is contextually specific, in technical, sector,
regional and/or country offices. They cannot rely on women/gender units for
168. Osborne and Gaebler (1993) insightfully define an outcomes-oriented
approach: they advise that you never tell people how to do things. Tell them
what you want them to achieve and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.
They criticize the control- and regulation-oriented approaches which preoccupy
staff and inordinately consume resources. Perhaps development assistance
agencies need reinvention themselves. Development agency staff ought to work
towards the realization of more substantial gender goals in activity and
B. Demand through empowerment
169. The big question for multilateral assistance agencies is: who sets
gender goals, at what levels? Ultimately, it is women and men for whom
accountability is necessary - accountability not only from international
agencies but also from their own Governments. Historically, however, men have
been overrepresented in decision-making about policy and expenditure. Women's
traditional and world wide underrepresentation in public decision-making has
contributed to the perpetuation of their subordination. Traditional
leadership and national policies and strategies, on the other hand, often
continue to reflect socio-cultural attitudes that block the realization of
170. Women's empowerment is key to accountability. Empowered women must hold
their Governments and United Nations agencies accountable for decisions. A
promising trend among successful cases studied herein involves the effort to
achieve greater accountability by drawing on the agency and voice of women,
women's groups, and women-friendly organizations, in their interaction with
Governments and international agencies. Also promising is the move towards
meeting "strategic gender interests", including increasing women's
participation in policy and planning.
171. An outcomes approach, driven by women's voice and agency, is even more
necessary in view of the shift in international development assistance from
project to programme and policy funding. Project design lends itself to
detailed procedures and guidelines which can be monitored, albeit through
laborious means. Programme and policy funding shifts the arena of negotiation
to a different set of decision makers, from whom accountability is sought to
be obtained by making financial support conditional.
172. The UNDP Human Development Index (HDI) represents a step towards
identifying and ranking countries on the basis of their level of human
development. The HDI is a composite measure of income, health, and education
indicators; it still excludes political participation or empowerment
indicators. When adjusted for gender, HDI drops in virtually all countries.
Ways must be identified to regularly report a gender-adjusted HDI that
includes political representation indicators for women.
173. Among conditionality levers, gender-based outcomes should be developed
and efforts to achieve them documented. People-oriented outcomes, rather than
token policies, should form the basis for policy dialogue between development
assistance agencies and national Governments. Relevant decision makers must
share stakes in the achievement and reporting of gender-disaggregated
outcomes. For these reasons, gender-based evaluation is central to
174. To draw together the issues raised in previous chapters, recommendations,
and measures to achieve them are offered below. The results from these
actions will provide leverage to sustain momentum for policy makers.
175. To broaden and strengthen institutional accountability, chief executives
are in the strategic position to authorize and fund the strategies for
mainstreaming gender in agency missions. External networks and
constituencies, including boards and advocacy organizations, can also press
for such changes. Progressive contributors will continue to press lethargic
agencies and support forward-looking agencies. Outcomes-oriented resolutions
at the Fourth World Conference on Women and at other international meetings
can stimulate the process. Women/gender staff can play key support roles in
all these efforts, but as lone units positioned in enclaves, they lack the
authority and resources to transform organizational cultures.
1. Whole-system-level recommendations
176. At the level of the whole system, the ability of evaluation units to
report people-oriented gender-differentiated outcomes of development efforts
must be strengthened. These efforts should be regularly monitored by the
Secretariat and the appropriate intergovernmental machinery in the United
Nations. Consistency across agency lines can be encouraged through joint
committees, projects and agreements.
177. Gender-based outcomes can be measured by monitoring projects and
programs according to their integration of gender and by monitoring total and
proportionate expenditure on gender. In addition, budgets should be more
transparent and formulated according to people-oriented outcomes. Goals
should be set for women's activities and expenditures that increase annually
and move toward balance (40-60 per cent of activities and funding for women)
within a realistic time-frame of, perhaps, 10 years. The achievement or
non-achievement of these goals must be reported and monitored in highly
visible ways to induce change in subsequent years.
178. The comparative advantage of different agencies must be recognized so as
to avoid duplication of efforts. Simultaneously, the capacity of the lead
women's agency should be strengthened so as to have a guiding role in
developing mainstreaming models. Mandatory financial contributions by
agencies for mainstreaming may be considered in order to create a capital fund
for this work.
2. Internal agency accountability
179. At the level of individual agencies, programme design and management
units must be held responsible for gender outcomes. Line and country-manager
staff should report gender-based outcomes as part of their annual reporting.
The responsibility for project/policy design as well as implementation should
be linked to quality outcomes, including outcomes for women. All
institutional units, sectoral and cross-sectoral, including environment, good
governance, and participation, should be required to have gender action plans
with measurable outcomes. At the same time, greater spending authority should
be delegated to country personnel and institutional units for gender
180. Evaluation of performance on gender should be strengthened. Action on
women/gender can be made one criterion for performance appraisal in personnel
evaluation, with no "women/gender irrelevant" escape clauses in reporting or
appraisal forms. Greater responsiveness can be ensured by imposing censures
or penalties for lack of performance and correspondingly through recognition
or reward for successful outcomes.
181. Suitable recruitment policies can further the mainstreaming of
gender-sensitive approaches in the work of agencies. "Critical masses" of
personnel with gender expertise should be recruited to staff gender focal
points. Gender expertise should be required for other staff positions as
well. Recruiting more personnel with gender expertise, including consultants,
will generate demand for expertise acquired prior to employment and/or
consultancy with agencies. Gender expertise should be made relevant to career
tracks. Similarly, expectations on gender-based outcomes should be included
in terms of reference for consultants and made a criterion for rehiring. In
economic development agencies, the skills mix of staff can be diversified by
recruiting more staff with social science-based skills.
182. Gender training within organizations can be promoted by rewarding
participation in training. Care should especially be taken to ensure that
male trainees, "loyal bureaucrats" and "hesitators" receive training.
Follow-up action on gender training should be made mandatory.
3. Users of development assistance
183. Generally speaking, agencies providing development assistance need to
recognize the diversity among women as users of such assistance. For example,
the needs of females may vary by age group, from girls through the aged.
Similarly, women's concerns in reproductive health vary throughout the
life-cycle from unwanted adolescent sex to safe motherhood and beyond. In
addition, there is a continued need to support women-specific programming
along with mainstreaming activities. Within activities designed to increase
women's income, renewed efforts are required to empower women with control
over income derived from their labour, whether at the household level or
beyond. Recent promising approaches include the attempt to target men in
gendered programming. For example, reproductive health projects seek to
establish responsibility among male reproducers and education projects aim to
resocialize boys about gender.
184. Since development assistance is largely channelled through national
Governments, greater accountability among Governments can be fostered through
mechanisms such as a gender-adjusted HDI, which should include indicators of
political participation and representation. Such mechanisms can be infused
into the project, programming, and conditional support processes.
4. Partnerships in development assistance
185. The importance of internal and external alliance-building has been
emphasized in a previous chapter. For furthering this end, agencies should be
encouraged to share documentation of country gender profiles and to simplify
and streamline their procedures for better inter-agency coordination.
Similarly, country-level institutions should be supported in the development
of gender profiles.
186. Appointing critical masses of women and/or gender experts can help in
making strategic gender interests part of policy dialogue. Building alliances
with women and women-friendly organizations can strengthen national level
advocacy and build local capacity for good governance. Non-governmental
organizations should, in general, receive greater support in developing and
implementing policies for women. The goal of ensuring that 40-60 per cent of
support goes to women and/or women-friendly organizations can be set for the
187. Recognizing that female empowerment is central to sustainable human
development, partners in development must build strategies into all programme
and project design in order to achieve this end.
D. Towards the future
188. Future efforts should emphasize institutional accountability in political
contexts in which empowered women, with men, demand and drive dramatically
different outcomes. Advocates working for advancing the gender agenda should
recognize the explicitly political nature of their work. The policies they
pursue seek to redistribute resources and power. The task of transforming
agencies involves a shift in power relations inside agencies and between
agencies and their clients, women and men alike. Women's engagement with the
political process is necessary, whether inside bureaucracies, between
bureaucracies, or in other settings. Agencies concerned with advancing gender
issues must build allies at local, regional, and global levels to generate
demand for institutional accountability to women as well as men.
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