Gender Mainstreaming Competence Development Framework:
In 1997 ECOSOC adopted agreed conclusions
on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and
programmes in the United Nations system. Gender mainstreaming
was clearly defined by ECOSOC:
Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the
process of assessing the implications for women and men of
any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes
in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making
women's as well as men's concerns and experiences an integral
dimension of 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 ultimate goal is to achieve
The Council emphasized the need to incorporate
a gender perspective into the mainstream of all areas of the
United Nations' work, including macroeconomic questions, operational
activities for development, poverty eradication, human rights,
humanitarian assistance, budgeting, disarmament, peace and security
and legal affairs.
In a letter to all heads of Departments, Programmes,
Funds and Regional Commissions in October 1997, Secretary General
Kofi Annan wrote that "this process is the responsibility
of us all, and not just gender experts or isolated units."
The letter requested a number of steps including the formulation
of: "specific strategies for ensuring that gender issues
are brought into the mainstream of activities" within
each area of responsibility.
The recent General Assembly special session
to follow-up the Beijing conference (June 2000) reinforced the
gender mainstreaming mandate. The United Nations was specifically
called upon to continue to implement, evaluate and follow-up
on the mandated work of mainstreaming gender perspectives into
all policy making, planning processes and programmes; ensure
the allocation of sufficient resources, including the maintenance
of gender focal points; and provide training on gender mainstreaming
and appropriate follow-up to all staff.
A Competence Development Programme
A competence development programme has been
developed which aims to create greater awareness, commitment
and capacity for gender mainstreaming division by division within
departments / organizations within the United Nations. The competence
development programme on gender mainstreaming should assess:
- Past and current efforts of each division
to bring a gender perspective to their substantive work;
- Leading-edge thinking in integrating
a gender perspective into the specific area of expertise of
- Concrete ways each division can respond to
the UN's commitment to gender mainstreaming across all substantive
Through a participatory methodology based on
each division's work areas and specific needs, the Competence
Development Programme aims to:
- Document what each division has already
done to mainstream gender perspectives;
- Clarify concepts and advance the analysis
involved in applying gender perspectives in the substantive
areas of the division (the focus will be on identifying how
and why gender issues are relevant in both the broad mandate
of the division and within specific initiatives);
- Identify resources (research, organizations
and individuals) that could assist the divisions to incorporate
- Identify concrete entry points and priorities
for future work.
The implications of the programme for each
The competence development programme involves
three elements at divisional level:
- A meeting (approximately 1 hour) of the
whole division, led by the Director, to introduce the competence
development programme - objectives, structure, expected staff
participation and anticipated outcomes - and present basic
concepts. The facilitators are also introduced at this meeting.
The meeting provides an opportunity for the senior management
to show commitment to gender mainstreaming and the competence
development programme and for staff to raise concerns and
provide concrete suggestions on the development of the programme.
- Small-group meetings (2-3 hours) with the
facilitators to discuss the work of the division (priorities,
past work on gender equality issues, day-to-day challenges,
current work-tasks / assignments, etc.). Staff receive advance
notice of when they should participate and specific questions
to think about before this meeting.
- A one-day workshop tailored to the specific
work of the division. (The larger divisions have more than
one workshop in order to keep the number of participants to
around 20 in each specific workshop). The workshop methodology
should be participatory and the agenda tailored to each division.
Once the divisional level process is completed
in each division, a "town-hall" meeting is organized
for the whole department / organization, led by the head of
the department / organization, to consolidate the learnings
and recommendations made.
Facilitation of the programme
Two consultants facilitate this process. An
overall facilitator participates in the programme in all divisions
in each department / organization to ensure overall continuity
in the programme. She/he takes the lead to ensure a participatory
methodology that is grounded in the work of the divisions and
adequate reporting back. The overall facilitator should have
a broad background in gender mainstreaming, including at both
policy and programme levels, as well as experience in designing
and implementing competence development programmes, developing
methodologies and tools and providing concrete advice to support
staff to make the links between gender issues and their specific
areas of work. The second facilitator should be a gender specialist
with expertise related to the specific sector area of each division.
There should be a different gender specialist for each division.
This consultant, chosen or endorsed by the division, provides
subject matter expertise, bringing to the process the latest
thinking on gender issues in their areas of work. Although two
facilitators are utilized in the process, it is important that
the programme is not simply left to external consultants. Gender
specialists / gender focal points should attend each session
in order to be able to monitor the development of the programme
and provide adequate follow-up.
The facilitators are required to provide substantive
documentation of the results and outcome of the programme for
each division, as well as recommendations for follow-up, over
an above the normal training evaluation processes. An overall
report for the whole department / organization is also required.
Developed by the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues
and Advancement of Women in collaboration with the Office of
Human Resources Management, United Nations, New York.