Department of Economic and Social Affairs


Regional Meeting to Discuss a Needs Assessment on:
National Machineries for Gender Equality in African Countries.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 16-18 April 2001

I. Introduction

The Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) and the Division for Public Economics and Public Administration (DPEPA), will conduct a regional meeting in conjunction with the project on Capacity Building for Promoting Gender Equality in African Countries from 16-18 April 2001 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting is an essential step of the project funded under the development dividend to strengthen the capacity of national machineries to carry out their mandate. The meeting will be hosted by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

In this regard, a consultation was held on 12 June 2000 on "the Role of National Machineries in National Agenda Setting." This meeting provided representatives from national machineries with an opportunity to exchange views on their mandate and role especially in the light of emerging challenges and further actions contained in the Outcome Document (A/S-23/10/Rev.1). Representatives indicated that the Beijing + 5 process had reaffirmed national machineries' critical and essential role in the implementation of the Platform for Action. They also revealed significant obstacles that have affected their functioning.

II. Background

The Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995) identified institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women as one of the 12 critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action. To follow-up on the Platform for Action, the Division for the Advancement of Women established a comprehensive database providing institutional profiles of national mechanisms. The information is regularly updated and the most recent figures indicate that one hundred and sixty one (161) national machineries have been established world wide.

In its resolution (A/RES/50/225) of May 1996, the General Assembly of the United Nations recognised that "there is a need for public administration systems to be sound, efficient, and well equipped with appropriate capacities and capabilities through[]promotion of the role and involvement of women in public administration, development of cross-sectoral gender sensitive and multidisciplinary capabilities, which supports all phases of the development process as well as the promotion of opportunities for all to participate in all spheres of the public sector".

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) considered national machineries at its 43rd session. In its Agreed Conclusions (1999/II, para. 4) the Commission acknowledged that, for national machineries to be effective, "clear mandates, location at the highest possible level, accountability mechanisms, partnerships with civil society, a transparent political process, adequate financial and human resources and continued strong political; commitment are crucial."

The Division for the Advancement of Women held an Expert Group Meeting on national machineries in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in September 1998. The meeting initiated a publication on national machineries entitled "National Machineries for the Advancement of Women: Mainstreaming Gender, Democratising the State" .

The 23rd Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on "Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-first Century", convened in New York in June 2000, clearly highlighted the central and critical role of national machineries in moving forward the global gender agenda. The review and appraisal report undertaken to monitor progress in the five years since the Beijing Conference highlights important achievements by national machineries, particularly in the area of formulating national action plans based on the principles and objectives of the Platform (E/CN.6/2000/PC/2, para. 452).

The Outcome Document of the 23rd Special Session reaffirmed the validity of the Platform for Action as a comprehensive framework for change aimed at achieving gender equality and the advancement of women. Equally, it reaffirmed the role of national machineries as the main institutional frameworks with responsibility for leading this process of transformation. However, it deplored the "lack of adequate financial and human resources" as the most common obstacle hampering the full implementation of the PFA (A/S-23/10/Rev.1, paras. 24 and 25). In terms of further actions, the Outcome Document stressed that "strong national machineries for the advancement of women and promotion of gender equality require political commitment at the highest level and all necessary human and financial resources to initiate, recommend and facilitate the development, adoption and monitoring of policies, legislation, programmes and capacity-building for the empowerment of women and to act as catalysts for open public dialogue on gender equality as a societal goal" (A/S-23/10/Rev.1, para. 61).

III. Regional Meeting

A. Preparation for the Meeting

In preparation for the meeting, DAW and DPEPA have conducted a needs assessment of the current status of national machineries in Africa. The needs assessment report analyses national machineries' participation in the planning structures and processes responsible for determining development priorities and resource allocation.

B. Objectives and Organisation of the Meeting

The regional meeting specifically aims to:

  1. Enhance the needs assessment report;
  2. Formally set up the Regional Task Force and devise its terms of reference;
  3. Devise and agree upon an implementation schedule and monitoring mechanisms;
  4. Produce guidelines on implementation methodologies and monitoring indicators and systems. The guidelines will be published and made available to countries participating in the project.

The needs assessment report will serve as a basis for discussion at the regional meeting. The meeting will follow a participatory approach with (a) short but substantive introductions to the subject by DESA staff; (b) presentations of country experiences by participants followed by discussions; and (c) working groups. The working groups will focus on developing the framework and guidelines of the project. The meting will be followed by two days of consultations between DESA and ECA to finalise the next steps of project implementation for the regional and international task force in accordance with guidelines established during the meeting.

Participants will (a) exchange experiences of national machineries in various African countries as well as in other regions; and (b) contribute to the development of guidelines for the selection of project countries and mechanisms for project implementation and monitoring.

C. Participants and Administrative Matters

The Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) and the Division for Public Economics and Public Administration (DPEPA) will organise the meeting. The meeting will be hosted by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

DAW will be responsible for:

DPEPA will be responsible for:

As the official host institution, ECA will be responsible for the provision of the following services and facilities:

  1. Administrative and support assistance including secretarial assistance;
  2. Office supplies, stationery, office and reproduction equipment such as personal computers, typewriters and duplicating machines;
  3. Transportation between the airport and hotel at arrival and departure days for participants and UN/DESA staff;
  4. Transportation between the hotel and conference facilities, if required;
  5. Access to telephone, telefax and telex services;
  6. Conference rooms, meeting facilities and office space as required;
  7. Audio-visual aids relevant to the meeting, such as overhead projector, flip charts, etc; and
  8. Assistance in arranging hotel accommodation.

The international consultant conducting the needs assessment will be responsible for:

  1. presenting the draft needs assessment report; and
  2. incorporating the participants' comments and recommendations into the final report.

The number of participants will be approximately 25. They will include:

  1. National machineries that attended the consultation meeting held on 12 June 2000;
  2. Regional commissions (ECLAC, ECA and ESCWA);
  3. Regional/sub-regional institutions (SADC, CAWTHAR and CAFRAD);
  4. UN agencies (UNFPA, UNIFEM and UNDP).

The working languages of the meeting will be English and French.

UN/DESA will make available funds required for the following categories of expenditure:

  1. UN/DESA staff
  2. One international consultant
  3. Travel and daily subsistence allowance (DSA) for 25 participants
  4. Miscellaneous

Participants will be expected to make the necessary arrangements with regard to passports, visa and other requirements for travel and attendance at the workshop.

IV. Expected outcomes and contribution to the project

The meeting is an essential step in the project and will produce the following output:

  1. The needs assessment report will be enhanced.
  2. The Regional Task Force will be formally set-up and its terms of reference will be devised.
  3. Mechanisms and guidelines for selection of project countries and project implementation, monitoring and reporting will be established

All relevant correspondance should be addressed to:
Fatiha Serour
Task Force Manager
Tel. (212) 963 8379
Fax. (212) 963 3463