The Workshop on Gender Mainstreaming was organized by the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women and was held in Geneva at the ILO from September 15-17, 1997. The sixty-one women and men at the Workshop included members of the UN Inter-agency Committee on Women and Gender Equality and members of the Expert Group on Women in Development of the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD. The purpose of the Workshop was to share experiences and lessons learned between and among bilateral and multilateral organisations about mainstreaming for gender equality as a crucial element in the transformation of the development agenda. Discussions were frank, practical and useful.Go back to News.
The Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 demonstrates a political commitment on the part of the worldís Governments to work towards equality between women and men and to pursue gender mainstreaming as a strategy for achieving equality. At the meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council in 1997, the Agreed Conclusions addressed mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system. Mainstreaming a gender perspective was defined as the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action including legislation, policies, and programmes, in any area and at all levels. It is a strategy for making womenís as well as menís concerns and experiences an integral dimension in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic, and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated.
The participants considered that both these instruments, the Platform for Action and the ECOSOC Agreed Conclusions, have set high standards. The participants further recognised that gender equality is not only a goal in itself but also a means to make poverty reduction, promotion of human rights, and democratisation more effective by addressing the needs of both women and men.
Although innovative efforts have been made within organisations, there is need to translate this learning on a far more widespread basis and to commit greater human, technical and financial resources to the task of ensuring that a gender equality perspective is fully institutionalised. Several conditions were determined as having special significance for this effort to move forward.
- Successful gender mainstreaming requires strong political commitment and senior management direction and support.
- All organisations require a gender equality policy which should be developed with broad participation within the organization to promote understanding and ownership.
- Policies should be further elaborated by action plans or strategies which clearly describe goals, tasks and accountability for gender equality mainstreaming at all organizational levels.
- Building strategic partnerships with civil society, including womenís organizations and other stakeholders serves as visible demonstration of the organisationís commitment to mainstreaming for equality.
- Gender equality policies and programming need to be supported by an investment in capacity-building for all staff, with strong investments in training, coaching and mentoring so that staff have the necessary skills and information to work with gender analysis tools.
- Human Resources Offices of organisations should ensure that staffing policies, whether recruiting or promoting women or men, fully reflect the need for gender competence and gender equality.
- Gender specialists, focal points and/or gender units have a critical catalytic, advisory, and monitoring role to play in their organisationís change efforts and increasing their organisationís effectiveness in programming for gender equality .This should be reflected in the organisationís workplans and budgets.
- Building intra-organization networks and extra-organization partnerships and alliances leads to identification and sharing of best practices related to mainstreaming a gender perspective in all substantive programming areas.
- Competence and expertise on gender equality should be maintained and even strengthened during processes of reform and reorganization such as in the current reform process of the UN.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FOLLOW UP
- Organisations need to develop or further refine tools and indicators to assess their results to date and their progress towards the goals stated in their gender equality policies and action plans.
- Monitoring needs to be regular and reporting should be made to the highest levels.
- Organisations need to establish appropriate accountability mechanisms in order to ensure the implementation of gender equality policies. Performance appraisals should recognise that accountability for implementing these policies is located at all levels, including management, and is not limited to the responsibility of the focal points.
There was agreement that there should be a continued professional exchange and flow of information including through e-mail and the Internet. The UN IACWGE and the OECD DAC WID Expert Group will develop partnerships to prioritize future joint activities. It was acknowledged that funding will be needed by the UN system and donors to support such activities. Suggested activities include: further meetings on selected topics; a review of the role and terms of reference of gender focal points in all agencies and organizations; exchange of information on best practices in gender mainstreaming; documentation of sectoral approaches on gender mainstreaming to be used for training and policy dialogue; and consideration of further multilateral bilateral field level collaboration on gender mainstreaming involving civil society and partner Governments. The Chairpersons of the two groups will report to the groups by March 1998.