Gender mainstreaming: Reflections on implementation of the strategy


Carolyn Hannan

Director, UN Division for the Advancement of Women


Presented at the seminar

Integrating gender equality into development co-operation

Drawing lessons from the recent evaluations

by Sida and the European Commission


organized by

European Commission


the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)

Brussels, 27-28 November 2003



I thank the European Commission (EC) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) for providing me with the opportunity to participate in this seminar. I would like begin by congratulating EC and Sida for the very constructive evaluations of promoting gender equality through gender mainstreaming within their organizations, and particularly for the positive follow-up processes which they have initiated. Although there is a shift in emphasis in evaluations today to learning processes rather than measurement of accountability, many evalations still come to an abrupt end when they are presented, and tend to grace bookshelves more than promote processes of change. There has been an important learning process in both the EC and Sida evaluations, which has continued long after the evaluations were finalized. There is a concerted effort by both organizations to draw out and apply the important learnings on gender mainstreaming. As a result, there are already positive indications of change underway. Through this seminar, the evaluations have potential to contribute to better understanding of gender mainstreaming and to improved implementation and the positive impact of the evaluations can spread beyond the two organizations directly involved.


What I will offer in this presentation are reflections on the discussions held during the seminar, as well as insights from my own experience in both bilateral and multilateral contexts. I will not provide many conclusive answers to questions raised but hope to highlight major gaps and challenges and some potential ways forward. Many of the issues raised in this seminar are not new; they have been raised time and again over the past two decades. This should clearly imply that it is time, particularly in the context of the forthcoming review and appraisal of ten years of implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, to seriously rethink some of the approaches in place. I will begin with some general reflections and then speak briefly on specific aspects of efforts made in development cooperation contexts to implement gender mainstreaming.


Global mandates and commitments


It is important to start with the global mandates for gender mainstreaming. The necessity for gender equality policies to be "in line with" the international goals on gender equality was raised in discussions over the past two days. It is not, however, enough to be in line with the global goals and recommendations. It is critical to effectively use these global goals and recommendations for action in development cooperation, as an integral part of the policy frameworks developed in agencies and in policy dialogue with partners.


The Member States of the United Nations - the partner countries of development cooperation agencies - committed in the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing,1995) to gender mainstreaming in all areas of development. Since then, the mandates for gender mainstreaming have been significantly reinforced. Specific mandates have been developed for different sector areas and issues, including even in difficult areas, such as budgets and peace and security. There is considerable support for gender mainstreaming among Member States, even though there is still uncertainty on how to implement the strategy. In New York there is a strong constituency of supporters of gender mainstreaming, with an informal group of around 25 Member States (the Friends of Gender Mainstreaming) working to promote more effective implementation in the intergovernmental processes, and in the work of the permanent missions to the United Nations and the entities of the United Nations.


Several times during the seminar it was stated that lack of support for gender mainstreaming by partner institutions is a problem. There was reference to resistance of different types. It is true that individual bureaucrats, particularly at middle-levels of management, may not know about these specific global commitments or may not be interested in implementing them. It would be dangerous, however, to slip into a pattern of presuming that there will automatically be resistance. The global goals and recommendations can be used very constructively by development cooperation agencies. The starting point has to be that the Governments should be accountable and willing to work with partners to secure implementation of commitments made globally. The global goals and recommendations must be consistently referred to in policy dialogue and women's groups and networks should be brought into this dialogue. There are often strong local movements of women's groups and networks making concerted efforts to hold their Governments accountable to these same commitments. Partnerships with, and/or support to these groups, in this context can be very effective.


Use should also be made of the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Declaration Goals (MDGs). The Millennium Declaration recognized that gender equality is a key indicator of, and precondition for, sustainable development. The MDGs clearly set out critical development goals, targets and indicators, including one goal on gender equality.It is not enough, however, to work with one specific goal on gender equality; there are critical gender perspectives in relation to all other MDGs. The targets and indicators already developed for gender equality need further refinement and expansion. Work is underway to strengthen the focus on gender equality in the implementation of the Millennium Declaration and the MDGs, both to support gender mainstreaming and the achievement of all the MDGs. Much can be gained from the strong emphasis in the work on the MDGs on implementation, targets and indicators to strengthen the focus on implementation, targets and indicators in promoting gender equality.


It should be a requirement that professional staff in development cooperation agencies are aware of the global goals and recommendations on gender equality and that they have capacity to use them in dialogue with partner countries. To ensure that this is possible, information on the global goals and recommendations should be integrated into training programmes in development agencies.


The importance of the rights-based approach was emphasized many times during the seminar. The important conclusion was made that the rights-based approach is not a substitute for gender mainstreaming. The rights perspective and the empowerment approach must be integral to gender mainstreaming. It is also critical to keep in mind that the use of the rights-based approach does not automatically ensure attention to women's human rights. There has to be an explicit focus on women's human rights.


It is thus also important to improve the focus on legally-binding commitments that governments have made through international conventions, in particular the Convention on All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). It is worth noting that 175 of 191 Member States of the United Nations have ratified CEDAW. Bilateral development cooperation agencies can take as a starting point that probably all or most of their partner countries have ratified the convention and thereby committed to actively eliminating all forms of discrimination against women, in both public and private contexts. It is important in preparing for policy dialogue to know what reservations, if any, the partner countries have to the convention; what their reporting record is; and what the CEDAW Committee has commented on and what changes they have recommended in the Concluding Comments prepared after the dialogue with the countries. The CEDAW convention, alongside the Platform for Action, should be an important basis for gender equality policy frameworks in development cooperation agencies. CEDAW could be used more strategically in dialogue with partner countries, and NGOs could be effectively involved in these discussions. Ways and means of using CEDAW in development cooperation policies and programmes should be integrated into training programmes in development cooperation agencies.


Gender mainstreaming: concepts and approaches to implementation


The discussions in this seminar, as well as in other contexts, have focused attention on the complexity of gender mainstreaming. Without falling into the trap of over-simplifying, it is important not to over-problematize gender mainstreaming. While it is necessary to explicitly highlight gaps and challenges, this should not create myths about gender mainstreaming being too difficult to implement or foster the perception that only experts can use the strategy effectively. The comment of one of the transport specialists at this seminar: "Don't give up on us (non gender specialists). We can take gender perspectives on board in our own work." is particularly pertinent in this respect. Many discussions of gender mainstreaming have, to far too great an extent, focused on the complexity of the strategy rather than on concrete steps needed to implement it. Gender specialists need to be aware of the risk of inadvertently hindering the implementation of gender mainstreaming by portraying it as too complex.


It is also important to distinguish between general problems relating to development cooperation which affect all areas of work, and problems and challenges which are specific to the promotion of gender equality. General challenges and constraints in development cooperation, for example in attaining local ownership of processes, can be attributed to the gender equality and used as an excuse for doing nothing. There are certainly some specific sensitivities around the promotion of gender equality because it directly with power relations and stereotypes. Discussions here also highlighted the close links between the personal and the professional in working with gender equality which can also create constraints. However in organizations where promotion of gender mainstreaming is popularly perceived to be extremely difficult and minimal efforts made to implement it, the question should be legitimately be raised: Is the promotion of gender equality so intrinsically more difficult than poverty eradication, promotion of human rights, and achievement of effective participatory governance? It is important to expose the underlying values and attitudes underlying perceptions of gender mainstreaming, particularly if they lead to inaction on gender equality within an organization.


Related to this is the issue of conceptual clarity. There has been considerable discussion during the seminar of conceptual confusion and difficulties with concepts. While there certainly can be difficulties with, for example, the distinction between the concepts of equality and equity, there has also been an unfortunate over-problematizing of concepts which has not been constructive for implementation of gender mainstreaming. The concepts of gender and mainstreaming should not present enormous problems. A great disservice is done to the promotion of gender equality when the perception is created that gender mainstreaming is so enormously difficult conceptually as to render it impossible to implement.


If the concept of "gender " appears to be difficult, it is possible to use "women and men" to clarify that the concept refers to women and men and the relations between them. If "mainstreaming" appears difficult to grasp, it is possible to talk about integrating or incorporating gender perspectives, if this is more understandable. What is critical is to take time to find out what causes the difficulty in understanding and develop other ways to explain the concept. Flexibility and pragmatism are important. Experience has shown that development specialists do have the capacity to take on new and complex concepts. In fact, they often like to be challenged in this way. Unfortunately the promotion of gender equality has not excited and inspired development professionals as much as could be desired.


There is, in addition, a need for clarity relating to goals and strategies. The strategy of gender mainstreaming is not adequately understood by many professional staff in development cooperation agencies. There may be many reasons for this. It can be because staff have never received an adequate explanation, apart from being given a copy of the gender equality policy, and are truly at a loss to know how gender mainstreaming would be relevant to their work or how it could be implemented. It could also be that the presentation of mainstreaming to professional staff through training programmes has been inappropriate - for example teaching theoretical analysis methodologies without adequate attention to ways of using them in daily work, or by failing to focus clearly on the areas of work professional staff are involved in. It, however, also needs to be kept in mind that some professional staff may simply not want to understand what it means. In this context, clear establishment of professional responsibility and accountability for gender mainstreaming is critical.


It is interesting to recall that when gender mainstreaming was first introduced as a concept in the early 1990s, there were many complaints about how difficult it was to understand and implement. Over the years the concept of mainstreaming has, however, been adopted in other contexts, for example in relation to disability, children, human rights, and poverty, with very little difficulty. Despite this, one can still hear that the concept of mainstreaming gender perspectives is too difficult. It is thus important to raise the question: Why can development professionals work with the concept of mainstreaming in relation to other areas but not in relation to gender equality? What is the underlying factor that needs to be addressed - the concept itself or the political will within the organization, as manifested by management signals and the attitudes of individual professional staff?


It has become increasingly "fashionable" in some circles, even among gender specialists, to criticize gender mainstreaming. It is interesting to note that this criticism comes most often from organizations where little success has been achieved in its implementation. That there are huge failings in relation to implementation of the gender mainstreaming strategy is very clear, but it is short-sighted and unconstructive to blame the strategy itself or these failings. There should be a greater focus identifying the factors which have made implementation difficult. It is also important for gender specialists to take a more self-critical look at their own roles and to develop new ways and means of supporting gender mainstreaming.


A historical perspective


When gender mainstreaming is criticized and it is suggested that gender mainstreaming should be abandoned, the question should be raised: What is the alternative? In this context it is useful to have a clear historical perspective. In the 1960s and 1970s the strategy utilized was women-specific activities. Lessons learned showed that this approach as the sole strategy led to the marginalization of women and their concerns. It did not deal with the structural causes of inequality. In the 1980s and early 1990s most organizations introduced the integration approach in an attempt to overcome the problems identified and to influence the mainstream of development. While attention was given to women's priorities and needs, it was usually after all important decisions on goals, strategies, activities and resources had been made. As a result, most attention to women was in the form of components or add-ons which had little impact on mainstream development.


In the mid 1990s the mainstreaming strategy gained ground. It was established precisely to deal with some of the constraints identified in earlier strategies. Gender mainstreaming aims to incorporate attention to women as well as men, their contributions, priorities and needs, from initial stages of policy and programme development to influence goals, strategies, activities and resource allocations. Gender mainstreaming should involve changes to the way development cooperation is done - contributing both to the achievement of gender equality, as well as facilitating the achievement of all other development goals. This is what is referred to as the transformative process in gender mainstreaming - it can require re-focusing, re-prioritizing and reorganizing development cooperation efforts to ensure that all stakeholders, women as well as men, can influence, participate in and benefit from development interventions.


All that being said, it is clear that implementation of gender mainstreaming is not simple. It does require explicit attention to gender perspectives and it requires development of knowledge, awareness, commitment and capacity among professional staff. It involves a process of change which will not be achieved in a short time - changes in processes and procedures, as well as changes in what is done on the ground and the impacts of these changes. Effective means of measuring both the process and the impacts need to be developed, including targets and indicators.

It should also be made clear that Member States of the United Nations commited to a dual approach in promoting gender equality: gender mainstreaming complemented by targeted activities for women and gender equality. There is no contradiction between the strategies; both continue to be needed. What is important is to understand the differences between the strategies so that there is clarity on what is gender mainstreaming and what is not.


The review and appraisal of implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, scheduled for 2005, provides an excellent opportunity for a critical rethinking of approaches for implementation of the gender mainstreaming strategy. The question needs to be asked: Are we doing the right things or expending a lot of energy doing the wrong things well? It is clear that sector specialists are not always getting the kind of support they need to fully integrate gender perspectives into their work. Since there are very few gender specialists within organizations who can support gender mainstreaming, what they do is critical. Many specialists are working in isolation with little concrete support, and few strategic alliances and resources. Much of the work on gender equality within development cooperation organizations is separate and marginalized. There has also been an over-emphasis on technical aspects (the perception that provision of training and guidelines would make the critical difference) and a neglect of political aspects (political will, clear management signals of support, and adequate resources). Many existing processes, mechanisms and instruments, which could support gender mainstreaming, such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and the MDGs, are not being effectively utilized.


Areas where change is most needed


In the remainder of the presentation I would like to focus on some of the areas where change would be most needed.


         Gender equality policies


Most development organizations today do have a gender equality policy. To be effective, such policies require regular updating, to respond adequately to development challenges and to changes in development cooperation. Even when strong gender equality policies are in place, they do not necessarily have the desired impact, often because they are kept on the margins of the policy environment within organizations. A major failing is the lack of linkage between promotion of gender equality and other prioritized development goals - the issues that are at the centre of attention - within organizations. Neglect of these linkages leads to failure to utilize the constructive synergies that could emerge. A second reason for lack of impact is that gender equality policies are often developed or revised by gender specialists with little consultation throughout the organization. A policy which is developed or revised collaboratively, in a process requiring inputs from all parts of the organizations - field-level as well as headquarters, has much greater potential for developing awareness, commitment and capacity and a real sense of ownership throughout the organization, and thus there is also greater potential for effective implementation.


For a gender equality policy to have the desired impact there needs to be a strategy and/or action plan which elaborates the needs to be done at different levels to ensure that the policy is implemented effectively. This should outline what actions need to be taken; who is responsible; and how they will be held accountable. It should also include explicit attention to the competence development required for implementation of the policy within the organization - that is, attention to the areas of competence required and the ways by which this should be developed within the organization. This should have implications for the overall training programme within the organization, as gender perspectives need to be incorporated into all training on substantive issues as well as procedures and processes. Responsibility for developing the competence on gender equality, and other changes in processes and procedures required, in order to meet the organizational commitments made in the adoption of a gender equality policy should not be left to a few under-resourced gender specialists. The sections of the organization responsible for planning, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation and competence development of staff should have clearly outlined roles and responsibilities.


There have been very constructive discussions at this seminar on the importance of identifying and building on the synergies between promotion of gender equality and achievement of other development goals, such as poverty eradication, promotion of human rights, promotion of environmental sustainability, and establishment of effective paticipatory governance. Discussions revealed that there is some "competition" among development goals in many organizations. There can be a clear hierarchy of goals, with some receiving more attention/priority, resources, and stronger management support than others. Poverty eradication remains the most important development goal for most organizations. Staff know that they will be held accountable in their work programmes for poverty eradication. It is therefore important to ensure that gender perspectives are fully integrated into poverty eradication efforts. It is well established, including through the Millennium Declaration, that poverty eradication is facilitated by gender equality; and experience has also shown that in many contexts promotion of gender equality is facilitated by gender-sensitive poverty eradication strategies. Gender specialists must develop more effective ways and means to establish and use the linkages between gender equality and poverty eradication, and other development goals, to move the gender equality agenda forward.


It is also well established that, as well as being a development goal in its own right, gender equality is critical for achieving all other develoment goals. Inequality between women and men and continued discrimination and subordination of women creates enormous hinders to development which need to be addressed in every sector. It is important to challenge the perception of gender equality as just one more cross-cutting issue added unto the responsibilities of professional staff with no guidance or prioritization. Gender equality should not simply be seen as a cross-cutting issue but as a development goal with implications for all other goals. As an analysis variable, gender is overarching and impacts on all other variables, such as class, race, ethnic group and age. Women are not a special interest group or a vulnerable group; they comprise at least 50% of the population, and through their roles and responsibilities in many different areas, make critical contributions to development which need to be recognized and built on.


         The country strategy process


A critical entry-point for advancing the promotion of gender equality is the country strategy process. It is important that gender analysis is integrated into country-level analyses, in order to influence sector policies and the establishment of clear gender equality goals at sector level, as well as action plans for gender-sensitive implementation. Country strategies determine which sectors will be prioritized; which aspects within specific sectors will be focused on; what links will be established between sectors; and what the concrete approach will be. Analysis at all levels of strategy development has to be context-specific. It must build on local knowledge - locally established goals, strategies and targets - through consultation processes which include women's groups and networks. There is a strong body of field-level experience, including good practice examples - not always well documented - which should feed into policy development and country strategies. Work at the field level, while critical, will, however, by itself not bring about the systemic change required. Gender-sensitive country strategies and sectoral strategies within development organizations are critical for ensuring full organizational commitment. Without this commitment explicitly outlined in the country and sectoral strategies, promoting gender equality at field level will be left to the initiatives of committed individuals and thus will lack potential for more long-term impacts and sustainability.


Experience to date shows that gender analysis is not implemented adequately into most country strategies, and in turn into sectoral strategies. There are few examples where gender equality has been given priority focus in development of country strategies. Strong institutionalization of gender perspectives into country strategy processes requires systematic incorporation of gender perspectives into dialogue and analyses and establishment of monitoring processes, including targets and indicators. The challenge is to go beyond the obligatory and politically correct one or two paragraphs on women/gender to a sound gender analysis which influences choices made through country strategy processes. Considerable analysis has already been carried out, particularly by local women's groups and networks. The challenge is to make this knowledge available and integral to country strategy processes. Many organizations have commissioned separate gender analyses with the purpose of influencing the mainstream process. However, much of this work has remained separate and has not influenced critical mainstream decisions and resource allocations. The results have appeared as an annex to country strategies or as separate documents with little impact.


Sida presented a positive example of an innovative approach which awakened interest and support during the seminar, that is, the prioritizing of one gender equality issue - land rights - within a country strategy. This critical issue for women would be addressed in all sectors within the framework of the country strategy process. A word of caution was, however, raised by participants - that the issue of land rights for women should be an integral part of the whole of the country strategy, to be addressed by all sectors and not kept as a separate component for women, if this innovation is to be effective.


Two issues raised marginally in the meeting are very important in the context of the country strategy process - data and budgets. It is important to ensure that policy commitments made by governments are matched by data collection to facilitate monitoring of implementation of these commitments. There are, however, huge data gaps to be addressed. Firstly, the issue of lack of sex-disaggregation of statistics, and secondly, the fact that there is no data collected systematically on many key issues for gender equality. The MDG context could be used constructively to focus more attention on these data needs. On the other hand, it is also clear that there is sometimes more data available than is presumed. The reason such data is not brought forward and utilized is that there is little demand. A good example of this is the health sector where most data is disaggregated on collection at grassroots level, but becomes aggregated as it passes up through the system because of lack of demand for disaggregation. Development cooperation agencies, as users of statistics, could play a more constructive role by making clear demands for disaggregation by sex and age as well as for collection of critical information on gender equality. Agencies can also support the role of producers - such as National Statistical Offices, statistical departments in line ministries - in different ways.


Similarly, it is important to match government policy commitments on gender equality with resource allocations. To date initiatives to mainstream gender perspectives into budget processes, while undertaken in many countries, have been ad hoc and relatively marginal processes, often initiated by NGOs and civil society groups as stand-alone initiatives. If assessment of budget allocations relative to policy goals on gender equality could be made an integral part of country strategies, this could be a powerful tool for change, particularly if the Ministry of Finance were actively involved.


         Policy dialogue and sector approaches


The seminar had a strong focus on dialogue as a critical instrument for bringing women's voices into decision-making processes. It is important that dialogue builds on the knowledge and capacity already existing at local levels. Incorporation of local analyses, goals and targets will promote real ownership and partnerships. There has not been sufficient focus on gender equality issues in dialogue. The ability of development cooperation agencies to follow through on issues raised in dialogue with partner institutions was emphasized in the seminar. It is not constructive if development agencies raise gender equality strongly in policy dialogue and are then not willing or able to live up to the expectations generated. Sida offered a potential good practice example on policy dialogue. A framework has been developed to guide Sida professionals in incorporating gender perspectives into dialogue in the context of country strategies. The framework provides guidance, sector by sector, on the gender equality problems/issues, the goal in terms of raising these issues in policy dialogue, the key questions to be raised - by which actors and with which partners, and the manner by which the issues should be raised constructively. Such a framework is an important innovation.


In discussions on sector approaches during the seminar, very thoughtful inputs were raised by the transport specialists, highlighting the need for a holistic, cross-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach. Appropriate responses to challenges in the infrastructure sector today do not lie in any one sector. Greater cross-sectoral collaboration is required within organizations. For example, transport is not simply about building roads but involves provision of transport services, with implications for, for example, labour market issues and health and security issues. The interlinkages between sectors, and the gender perspectives in relation to these, need to be addressed at all levels - the country strategy level, the sector strategy level and the level of intervention. Achievment of gender mainstreaming in sectors requires stronger alliances between sector specialists who know the sector well but do not have in-depth knowledge of gender perspectives, and gender specialists who may not know the sector issues in depth but should be able to raise the appropriate questions to be addressed. The constraints involved in sector-wide approaches and budget support were noted as specific challenges to be addressed.


Institutional arrangements


Finally I would like to make some very brief comments on institutional arrangements for gender mainstreaming within organizations, focusing on the role of gender specialists, the role of management, stratgies for competence development, the critical role of gender analysis, and the need for relevant tools.


         Gender specialists


Most organizations have gender specialists in both headquarters and the field. Experience has shown that it is critical that these specialists have clear mandates, particularly emphasizing their catalytic role; strategic location providing adequate access to information and decision-making processes; adequate levels of resources; and most importantly, clear lines of reporting and full explicit support from senior and middle-level management within organizations. Unless clear signals of commitment and support come from senior management in particular, the efforts of gender specialists will not have optimum impact. It is particularly important that the responsibilities and accountability of all other categories of staff in organizations are clarified so that responsibility for gender mainsteaming does not fall entirely on gender specialists.


Gender specialists themselves need to rethink their strategies and approaches and focus on more effective means of developing competence for gender mainstreaming within organizations. Greater attention needs to be given to communication skills for gender specialists to ensure that gender mainstreaming can be advocated, supported and monitored in understandable, non-threatening and constructive ways.


         Management roles


Leadership by management in organizations is critical to the effective promotion of gender mainstreaming. Managers at all levels must have adequate levels of awareness, commitment and capacity for the promotion of gender equality and must be aware of their important role in promoting, supporting and monitoring progress and demanding accountability from all staff. Senior managers can give invaluable support through messages of commitment and support in different ways. Experience has shown that staff in organizations do respond positively to the vision and priorities elaborated by senior management. Commitment and support of middle-level management is also critical. In some organizations, the positive signals of senior management have limited impact because of middle-level managers who block progress because of disinterest or resistance to the principles of gender equality. Ways and means of developing greater substantive understanding of gender equality and the gender mainstreaming strategy among managers, and of holding them accountable for progress, must be developed. These can include, for example, more effective briefings for senior management on gender mainstreaming and their roles in promoting, supporting and monitoring progress, as well as inclusion of responsibility for gender mainstreaming in the work programmes of middle-level managers, and accountablility for the promotion of gender equality in work contracts and performance assessments.


         Competence development


Professional competence for promotion of gender equality and utilization of the gender mainstreaming strategy should be required of all professional staff in organizations. This includes awareness, knowledge and commitment as well as capacity, that is, to know why promotion of gender equality is an important development goal and what to do to address the goal in their own work. Staff in many organizations have received training which addresses the question of why they should be working on gender equality but have not received sufficient support in knowing how to go about it. This has created considerable frustration, which is counterproductive for the effective implementation of gender mainstreaming. Although there has been a significant focus on competence development over the past decade, particularly through training programmes, in many organizations, it is clear that the "hearts and minds" of staff have not been sufficiently captured. One reason for the limited success in this area is probably a tendency to treat competence development as primarily a technical process. Attitudinal change is required which requires a focus on the rationale for the promotion of gender equality.


New approaches are needed which provide incentives and motivation for professional staff to further develop their knowledge, commitment and skills. Experience has shown that training on gender equality not only has to be tailored to specific sector areas and issues, but must also be tailored to the different types of work done by various groups of professionals. Once professionals are made aware of what the gender perspectives are in relation to the sector they work with, such as health, economics, agriculture, etc, they need to also understand how to work with these issues when doing research and analysis, collecting and utilizing statistics, conducting policy dialogue, developing and implementing projects, monitoring and evaluating, providing training programmes, etc. Each professional needs to be assisted to understand the ways in which gender equality is relevant for the work in their "in-trays", and how they might go about addressing these issues. Innovative programmes today focus on the specific tasks that participants are currently working on, in order to make the training as useful as possible. Many programmes also work towards the development of a set of concrete, measureable individual actions that the participants can agree to undertake on the completion of the programme, as a means to ensure that the programme will have some immediate effect on the work of participants.


The competence development efforts made in many organizations have less than optimal success because little attention has been given to follow-up. Participants should leave programmes with a clear understanding of what they are required to do. Managers must also be made aware of the commitments made by participants and encouraged to follow-up on a regular basis. Some organizations have established "help-desks" (which can be electronic) to support participants who have follow-up questions after completing their training programmes. Training divisions should develop new means to follow-up training programmes to both assess effectiveness of the programmes as well as ensure that professional staff get the additional support they need.


Training divisions in organizations should work together with gender specialists to put in place a more diverse, action-oriented and client-friendly competence development programme on gender mainstreaming. A range of on-going learning processes need to be initiated, including on-the-job training and dynamic interactive debate fora where topical issues can be discussed, to meet the needs of all professional groups within organizations. Executive briefings for senior- and middle-level management, rather than traditional training programmes, have been used effectively in some organizations. "Brown-bag lunches" have also been useful in some contexts. It is, however, important to know what the value and contributions of different types of activities can be. A series of brown bag lunches on diverse topics, for example, can certainly be effective in raising awareness and interest, but will not provide the "hands-on" guidance needed to help professionals know what they need to do differently on a day-to-day basis.


         Gender analysis


In connection with the discussion of competence development efforts, I would like to raise the issue of gender analysis. Over the past 10-15 years different models for gender analysis have been developed. In development cooperation contexts these models have sometimes been unquestioningly adopted and presented in training programmes. The outcome of these efforts has been mixed, depending to a certain extent on how theoretical and complicated these analysis methods are and the manner in which they are linked to the work of organizations. There have been cases where many different models for gender analysis have been presented to participants, without any clear linkages to the work of the participants. Presentation of analysis models in a theoretical manner, with no direct links to the work of participants can create frustration and resistance.


Developing gender analysis capacity does not so much require teaching a particular analysis model but fostering capacity of participants to ask the right questions in relation to their work and know where to go to find the relevant information (particularly developing understanding that there is a lot of analyses and information available at local levels). If a particular gender analysis model is to be presented, the emphasis must be on how it is relevant to the work of the participants and how they themselves might use it in their daily work. It needs to be kept in mind that training programmes do not aim to turn all professionals into gender specialists. Professionals should be supported to know how to analyse their work from a gender perspective, that is, to know what critical questions should be raised, and how to work with these in their daily work.


Teaching gender analysis as a separate analysis methodology often presumes that all gender analysis should be done in the context of separate analyses. Gender mainstreaming rather requires that gender perspectives are incorporated into existing analyses, such as sector analyses, country strategy analyses, poverty analyses or analyses on HIV/AIDS, disability, etc. Training programmes should support participants to fully integrate gender perspectives into the existing analyses they use in their day-to-day work.


         Methodologies and tools

The separateness of many efforts to promote gender equality - which work against the gender mainstreaming strategy - can be seen in other areas. Organizations have, for example, developed specific methodologies and tools for promoting gender equality. Many of these are (or could be) very useful. However research has shown that many very relevant tools - such as guidelines, manuals, handbooks - on a multitude of sectors are not being used effectively. There are many reasons for the underutilization of the existing methodologies and tools. In some organizations there is little knowledge that they exist because inadequate attention has been given to dissemination within organizations. Ironically, in some cases methodologies and tools are used more in PR activities outside the organization than internally as a means to develop capacity. To be effective instruments for change, the tools developed must have a broad distribution within the organization and must be used effectively in training programmes. Help-desks, as discussed earlier, could also be established in the initial stages of introduction in an organization, to support potential users and get feedback to ensure development of more effective methodologies and tools in the future.


A second reason for non-utilization of existing methodologies and tools is that many are overly complex and not user-friendly. Busy bureaucrats need instruments which are clearly developed on the basis of an understanding of what they do and can provide guidance in a short, concise manner. Experience has also shown that methodologies and tools which are developed in a collaborative manner, together with those who will use them, have the best chance of being used and making an impact operationally.


A major failing in relation to development of methodologies and tools, is the lack of attention to incorporating gender perspectives into existing processes and tools, such as existing sector guidelines, manuals and handbooks. It is not always strategic to develop a separate handbook on, for example, gender and agriculture, when the organization has an existing handbook on agriculture with no attention to gender perspectives. A priority for gender specialists in an organization should be to identify the most critical planning instruments and ensure that gender perspectives are fully incorporated into these, for example, guidelines on country strategy development, handbooks on poverty eradication or evaluation manuals. In addition, gender perspectives need to be an integral part of efforts to work with partner countries to develop strategies, guidelines, handbooks, etc, for example in the context of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers or Country MDG Reports.




Gender equality perspectives are still not at the centre of the development debate to an adequate extent. It is important to identify and build on synergies between gender equality and other development goals. The Millennium Declaration and the MDGs offer a unique opportunity in this respect. The work that has been done to promote gender equality in many organizations has been characterized by separateness, isolation and marginalization. Lack of support for this work by management levels has probably been a major causal factor.Gender perspectives are not an integral part of the work of organizations at policy or programme levels. Training efforts have not had significant impacts in some organizations. Resistance to incorporating gender perspectives in different areas of work still exists, although sometimes in subtle, less visible, forms. A more dynamic process of competence development is required to create the awareness, commitment and capacity required for gender mainstreaming.


Although there is a lot of discussion of the importance of alliances, collaboration and local ownership, much more could be done to make local knowledge and expertise on gender equality more central in many development cooperation organizations. Local goals, analyses, priorities and targets must be at the centre of the work on promoting gender equality, with the country strategy process playing a key role in this respect. The voices of women must be brought more clearly into this process. Lack of interest among partner institutions should not be acceptable as an excuse for doing nothing, particularly in the context of the existing strong global mandates. Organizations need to focus first on the lack of interest and support within their own organizations.


Ten years after the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, implementation of gender mainstreaming takes place in a very different context. Development cooperation involves a very full political agenda, with competing priorities; overworked bureaucrats, and limited gender specialist resources. It is important to critically rethink approaches for gender mainstreaming in the current context. Some major opportunities exist for supporting this. Firstly, implementation of the agreed conclusions on gender mainstreaming from the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC, 1997/2) - which have provided the major global framework on gender mainstreaming - will be reviewed in the Coordination Segment of the ECOSOC in 2004. Secondly, the Commission on the Status of Women is mandated in 2005, as part of its multi-year programme of work - to review the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) and the outcome document of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly (2000) - Beijing +5. This review will include a focus on implementation of gender mainstreaming and the lessons learned, good practices and gaps and challenges after ten years of implementation.


The Commission on the Status of Women will focus in 2004 on the "role of men and boys in achieving gender equality". Participation of men in implementation of gender mainstreaming - managers, professional staff and consultants within development cooperation agencies as well as policy-makers, administrators and stakeholders in partner countries - is critical, and this may be an area for further emphasis in development cooperation agencies.


In closing, I again commend EC and Sida for the positive contributions the two evaluation processes have made to discussions of gender mainstreaming. It is clear that efforts are being made to develop a learning process where lessons learned will feed back into policies and implementation and monitoring of actitivies. The learnings from this process will contribute to more effective evaluations of gender mainstreaming in the future, but should - just as importantly - also contribute to effective mainstreaming of gender perspectives into all other evaluations in different sector areas. An important spin-off of the follow-up activities to both these evaluations is also the close collaboration and alliances fostered between policy makers, programme staff and evaluators within (and between) the two organizations, which is a precondition for gender mainstreaming


In particular the recommendation to continue to make efforts to more effectively implement the gender mainstreaming strategy, despite the constraints experienced to date, is very positive. The concrete recommendations in the two evaluations on what more could be done to enhance gender mainstreaming through, for example, country strategies and dialogue, are very constructive. The evaluations rightly point out that, while it is too early to assess adequately what has been achieved, it is important to establish clearly now should be achieved and how this might be measured. The seminar identified some critical questions which remain to be answered: What constitutes good progress in gender mainstreaming in different areas? Who decides what is an adequate level of progress? How can it be effectively measured, both in terms of process and impact on the ground? What targets and indicators are needed for different areas? Issues of attribution / contribution remain - to what extent are the efforts - direct and indirect - made by development cooperation agencies instrumental in promoting change on the ground in partner countries.


The two evaluations will continue to make a significant contribution to advancing gender mainstreaming in development cooperation within the two organizations and more broadly. If we in the Division for the Advancement of Women in the United Nations can contribute to and support the process in any way we would be happy to do so.


Thank you.