WomenWatch - Information and Resources on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP): Comparative Advantage

Primary Mandate/Concentration in Relation to Rural Women

UNDP's gender equality mandate is guided by its sustainable human development paradigm and the major global commitments and instruments, which strongly affirm that gender equality is both a development goal and a human right. As part of its mandate to promote an inclusive, resilient and sustainable development, UNDP works to strengthen the empowerment of rural women by supporting the following:

  1. Advocating for increased recognition, reduction and redistribution of women's unpaid care work.
  2. Supporting research of customary law to help women gain access to land and participate in decision-making form.
  3. Supporting rural women's entrepreneurship through training in production skills and techniques, business management and functional literacy.
  4. Helping to certify businesses that adhere to equality standards in the workplace.
  5. Supporting efforts to strengthen women's legal rights to property.
  6. Addressing existing structural barriers to women's economic advancement and facilitating equal opportunities for women to participate in the green economy.
  7. Advocating and promoting women's political and helping to reform electoral processes, change political parties, and strengthen parliaments, judiciaries and the civil service.

Areas of Unique Expertise/Strength

UNDP promotes inclusive and sustainable human development and works to reduce poverty in all its dimensions. UNDP has unique expertise in the area of economic empowerment of rural women. UNDP focuses its work on three core dimensions of women's economic empowerment, namely: economic opportunity, legal status and rights and voice, inclusion and participation in economic-decision-making.

UNDP also provides country-wide (including rural) sex-disaggregated statistics through its flagship Human Development Reports (HDRs).The development of the new Gender Inequality Index (GII), launched in 2010, which specifically tracks the correlation between gender inequality and other inequalities, is a major advance that will assist governments to re-shape economic policy dialogue and planning priorities in ways that support faster progress towards gender equality.

Approach to the Empowerment of Rural Women

UNDP has a strong gender equality mandate, guided by its sustainable human development paradigm and several global commitments and instruments. It also includes empowerment of women as a means to address historical imbalances and enable women to take full advantage of growing opportunities.

The UNDP Gender Equality Strategy 2008-2013 provides a framework for UNDP's approach to the empowerment of rural women. It also provides a broad range of gender-sensitive outcomes and indicators that help UNDP on the following:

  1. Assist national and local institutions in developing countries to design their policies, plans and budgets in such a way that the needs of poor women and men are addressed equitably;
  2. Promote women's and girl's economic rights and opportunities, including investing in women's entrepreneurship;
  3. Strengthen national statistics and planning offices' capacities to collect , analyze and use gender statistics.

Key Tools/Activities Supporting the Empowerment of Rural Women

UNDP supports development initiatives of national governments, civil society organizations, independent national and regional institutions and other stakeholders through advocacy, policy advisory and implementation services.

  • The MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF) provides a systematic way for countries to develop their own action plan based on existing plans and processes to pursue their MDG priorities. For instance, with the joint facilitation support of UNDP country offices (COs), headquarters, and regional centre (RC) Dakar expertise, several countries in Western and Central Africa have engaged in rolling-out an MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF) to support sustainable progress towards targets on rural poverty and hunger reduction. In line with gender-responsive institutional development principles, the MAF Togo involves enhancing women's representation among extension officers so as to ensure greater responsiveness of extension services to their specific needs. Likewise, the MAF Burkina Faso provides for greater gender-balanced staffing of core ministries in charge of rural development.
  • UNDP's Gender Needs Assessment Tool, has been adopted by 22 African countries as part of their national planning and budgeting processes. UNDP has also contributed significantly to the development and dissemination of gender budgeting as an inherent component of meaningful policy planning, implementation and monitoring. Several countries have included gender budgeting as part of their programming support to government. In Mauritius, UNDP supported six ministries to pilot an alignment of budgets with the National Gender Policy Framework, and in Nigeria, the fiscal responsibility legislation contains strategies for mainstreaming gender into all sections of the budget.
  • Another UNDP effort, the Gender and Economic Policy Management Initiative (GEPMI), addresses gender-related capacity constraints in economic planning processes. GEPMI aims to build a critical mass of gender-aware economists focused on developing, implementing and monitoring gender-responsive macro-economic policies and frameworks supported by governments. The initiative consists of 1. a regional short course for mid-level government planning officials, parliamentary staff and civil society organizations; 2. country-level advisory services and capacity development; and 3. a one-year Master of Arts in Gender-Aware Economics. The demands for the initiative's components have been robust and have attracted the participation of senior government personnel. Outputs so far indicate sufficient potential for the programme to be considered for further expansion, subject to availability of funds. GEPMI is now well established in Africa and is currently being replicated in Asia.
  • Working in close collaboration with governments, civil society organizations and the private sector, UNDP is establishing "service delivery platforms" that offer capacity building, finance, information and increased access to new technologies for women workers and entrepreneurs. Results from this initiative confirm that using the platforms has reduced women's daily time burden on chores such as preparing food and collecting water by two to four hours. Income levels are also increasing, contributing to better health and food security, improved education enrolment and retention rates, and increased adult literacy rates. Approximately 2,000 villages are benefiting from the platforms in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. The expansion of the programme is underway in the Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Madagascar, Sierra Leone and Chad.

Inter-agency Partnerships

UNDP continues to embrace strategic partnerships with Agencies of the UN system based on mandates, capacities and government demands. A few examples of recent initiatives are as follows:

  • At the global level, UNDP in collaboration with the World Bank and the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA) uses the framework of the Adaptation Fund established at the 13th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2007. The Adaptation Fund was set up to finance concrete adaptation projects and programmes in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change that include a large percentage of rural women.
  • UNDP combines prevention strategies focusing on women's economic empowerment with support for victims of gender-based violence through programmes on the rule of law, access to justice as well interventions focusing on health and citizen security. Through its contributions around the world, UNDP remains a leading partner of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign.
  • In 2011, approximately over 190,000 people (40 percent women) gained access to emergency jobs created through the UNDP Cash-for-Work/rapid employment generation projects, including through a UNDP/World Food Programme joint initiative, the Cash-for-Work/Food-for-Work programme. UNDP supported these initiatives from their inception through a mix of financial and technical support.
  • UNDP and UN Women collaborate through well-established informal and formal inter-agency collaboration networks and mechanisms in all UNDP areas of work. UNDP and UN Women partnerships include: the UNDP Gender and Economic Policy Management Initiative; implementation of the recommendations in 'Women's Participation in Peacebuilding: Report of the Secretary-General'; and implementation of global indicators for Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.