E-Bulletin of the Human Development and Capability Association
Number 13, February 2009
Dear HDCA Member,
more than half of the world’s population but, often, they are not
given the same opportunities as men to lead the kind of lives they have
reason to choose and value. Even in countries that are know for their
‘progressive’ stance towards gender equality, such as Scandinavian
countries, women still continue to be paid less for the jobs they are
doing than their male counterparts.
been a well researched topic within human development circles. But there
is one area however that remains neglected, mainly because de prima
facie, one would not see any connection between the two. Macro-economic
policy has an important impact on women’s lives. When prices of basic
commodities rise, it is often women who are most affected because they
are the ones that have to buy the food and supply the family with the
meals. When indirect taxation increases, again, women often bear the
greatest burden. There is thus a close relationship between macroeconomic
policy and gender which remain unexplored.
Irene van Staveren
starts by examining the gender biases inherent to the World Bank’s
Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers. She argues that gender still remains
to be ‘mainstreamed’ in the PRSPs’ policy recommendations. Diane
Elson analyzes how to monitor whether the articles contained in the
Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
Women have been translated into government’s budgets. Marzia Fontana
discusses the use of gendered Social Accounting Matrices and how they
can be used to assess the impact of trade reforms on the lives of women.
‘In the Practice’
section describes two organisations which work towards gender justice,
the Gender and Development Network, and the WIDE network. We reproduce
some information from their website which we hope you might find useful.
As usual, if
you have any comments, or would like to make a contribution to forthcoming
issues of Maitreyee, do not hesitate to contact us.
and Arnab Acharya
E-mails: email@example.com, Arnab.Acharya@lshtm.ac.uk
Irene van Staveren
Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, and
of Economics, Radboud University Nijmegen
Gender in PRSPs
Around the turn of the millennium, Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) appeared on the stage of macroeconomic policies for highly indebted countries and other countries seeking loans from the IMF and the World Bank. Contrary to its predecessor, Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs), RPSPs make an explicit link between growth, debt reduction, and poverty reduction and do pay attention to gender. But the conclusions are rather disappointing: gender is not mainstreamed in PRSPs (Whitehead, 2003).
Country PRSP teams use the PRSP Sourcebook, available on the World Bank website and in print as a guideline. The Sourcebook explains what is expected of a PRSP’s policies, emphasizing ‘prudent macroeconomic management’, ‘macroeconomic stability’, and the ‘removal of significant distortions’. In particular, the heart of the PRSP is expected to entail a macroeconomic framework that should promote low inflation, a sustainable balance of payment position, growth, and a sustainable fiscal position. In chapter 10, the Sourcebook provides PRS teams with quite extensive information for the integration of gender into the paper. It advises PRS teams to include a chapter on gender, to use gender-disaggregated data, to include women in the PRSP process, and to make policies and targets gender aware, including budget allocations, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) indicators. In addition to the Sourcebook, there is another structure that shapes PRSPs, the Guidelines for Joint Staff Assessments by the World Bank and IMF which provide the criteria for assessment of PRSPs.2 As in the Sourcebook, most attention in the Guidelines goes to policies, emphasizing the macroeconomic framework (growth, inflation, balance of payment position and the budget deficit), and, in relation to this, the fiscal position and financing plan. Together, the priorities in the Sourcebook and the Guidelines make up the PRSP framework.
In a desk study of five 2001 PRSPs and nine 2004 PRSPs, I found that none had a gender chapter; only one 2001 PRSP and four 2004 PRSPs had relatively integrated gender in the poverty analysis; and none of the 2001 and 2004 PRSPs had included gender into the macroeconomic framework; four 2001 reports included targets or M&E indicators or a budget allocation, but sparsely and inconsistently. Five 2004 PRSPs had no gender-aware priority public actions, targets and M&E indicators at all, while three included some gender-aware social targets as well as some targets for the reduction of gender biases in economic variables (in particular in human capital, agricultural production, and the labour market). The 2001 Joint Staff Assessments (JSAs) often appreciated the attention to gender in poverty analysis, even if this attention was very limited. Only one 2001 JSA noted the insufficient inclusion of gender in targets, but only for social targets, referring to women as a ‘vulnerable group’. For the 2004 JSAs, seven did not comment on the absence of gender-awareness, while two JSAs signalled insufficient gender mainstreaming in policies, but without pointing out whether and how that should be repaired.
Next to the
desk study I did a detailed analysis of three 2001 PRSPs (Honduras,
Nicaragua and Bolivia). This analysis revealed that when gender is present,
it is so in the social chapters and only inconsistently in relation
to women’s economic position. I will give an example for each country
to illustrate this finding. For Honduras, one policy action is concerned
with reducing the gender gap in human development (increasing the Gender
Development Index from 0.64 to 0.77 and increasing the Gender Empowerment
Measure from 0.45 to 0.585 by 2015). However, the policy chapter does
not propose any measure that would help to meet these targets. For Nicaragua,
there is no gender mainstreaming at all in the policies proposed. With
the announcement of a plan to reduce domestic violence, the social equity
section promises action plans for equal opportunities and assistance
to rural women, but no actions have been formulated, not even target
dates and budgets. In the case of Bolivia, the PRSP comes up with three
policy areas that explicitly take gender equality into account. The
percentage of female micro and small scale entrepreneurs benefiting
from the policies should increase from 34% in 2000 to 53% in 2006. The
program of access to education for rural women should cover 68% women
in 2006, compared to 49% in 2000. And the percentage of women with access
to basic health insurance should go up from 14% in 2000 to even 95%
in 2006. One wonders, however, how these targets are to be met without
the allocation of budgets and without assigning responsibility to relevant
To the heart of the PRSP: The macro-economic framework
It is clear that gender issues are present in PRSPs, but only in the poverty analysis and the social sections of the report, and often not followed up with targets, budgets and M&E indicators. Gender is completely absent in the macroeconomic framework. It seems therefore that it is the narrow macroeconomic framework, the heart of the PRSP, which constrains genuine integration of gender. I will briefly review the four core themes of the macroeconomic framework, showing how gender is excluded but how it does nonetheless matter for each of these policy areas.
On growth, feminist economic research has pointed out that factor market demand and supply dynamics as well as their regulating institutions and policies often have gender-based distortions which lead to unequal opportunities and constraints for male and female economic agents. These gendered distortions, in turn, tend to lead to dynamic inefficiencies, which negatively affect economic growth. In the case of credit markets, gender distortions are effectuated through quantity rationing in formal credit markets, largely excluding women as borrowers and crowding out loans for women to high-interest money-lender types of informal credit (Yotopoulos and Floro, 1992). For agricultural markets, experimental studies have indicated that modest shifts of fertiliser or labour from male to female plots, increases household production 10 to even 40% (Udry et al., 1995). Finally, for labour markets, Seguino (2000) has shown with time–series data of South Asian countries that the high growth rates of these countries can be largely explained by the high gender wage gap in these countries’ export manufacturing industries, employing predominantly women. Others have estimated the total impact of gender inequalities in factor markets to be 0.1 to 0.3 percentage point loss of GDP growth for the next ten years (Klasen and Abu-Ghaida, 2004).
On price stability, policies aimed at reducing inflation often make use of contractionary monetary policy and a high interest rate. However, this negatively affects small and medium sized enterprises costs of borrowing. In many countries in Africa and Asia, women are the majority of micro and small scale entrepreneurs, and are therefore very vulnerable to such contractionary monetary policy. Moreover, deflationary policies tend to go hand in hand with increasing female unemployment rates, at higher rates of increase than for men (UNRISD, 2005). The macroeconomic framework also often involves exchange rate devaluation. Currency devaluation benefits export earnings and employment, including women’s employment. But, at the same time, imports will become more expensive, so that devaluation can put pressure on basic household expenditures, such as food or agricultural inputs, which, depending on the gender division of labour in households, may hit women harder than men (Warner and Campbell, 2000).
The third core element is concerned with external balance, often implying the promotion of exports, import tariff reductions, and inviting foreign capital inflows. Export promotion policies tend to increase female employment in labour-intensive manufacturing. While this is a positive effect for women’s labour market opportunities, the quality of jobs tends to be low, while labour standards in export production come under increasing pressure of the unequal bargaining power between globally mobile capital and relatively immobile labour (Palley, 2004). This, in turn, together with the increased competition from imports, leads to an increasing flexibilization of jobs, particularly for women who work at the lower end of global production systems (Standing, 1999). Moreover, policies concerning external balance often encourage capital inflows through deregulation of financial markets and the banking system and tax holidays for foreign direct investments, leading to strong financial market volatility and increasing risk of bank runs and sudden capital outflows. These risks hit women particularly as it increases their unpaid workload in order to substitute for income losses (van Staveren, 2002).
The fourth and final core element of the PRSP macroeconomic framework concerns internal balance – the reduction or even elimination of budget deficit. The contractionary policies aimed at reducing the budget deficit are likely to hurt those groups in society that are most dependent upon redistributive policies through public expenditures, including women, given their role as carers (Elson and Çaĝatay, 2000). Moreover, women already tend to be disadvantaged by gender biases in public expenditures, as gender audits of government budgets have shown (Norton and Elson, 2002).
ignoring the important role of gender in the economy reduces the effectiveness
of PRSPs, so that gender blindness, in fact, becomes an additional reason
why PRPs do not really support poverty reduction. This implies that
gender mainstreaming in PRSPs will only become feasible when cutting
loose the macroeconomic framework from its neoliberal basis and replacing
it by country-specific policy formulation that will support the equity-efficiency
linkages. In addition, PRSP teams would need economic gender analysis
rather than hiring gender expertise only as an add-on or social
issues. Only then will the economic effects of gendered institutions,
distortions, and policies be included in the analysis of causes of poverty
and possible development and growth strategies.
Elson, D. and N. Çaĝatay (2000), ‘The Social Content of Macroeconomic Policies’, World Development 28 (7): 347-64.
Klasen, S. and Abu-Ghaida, D. (2004), ‘The Costs of Missing the Millennium Development Goal on Gender Equity’, World Development 32 (7): 1075-1107.
Norton, A. and D. Elson (2002), What’s Behind the Budget? Politics, Rights and Accountability in the Budget Process, London: ODI.
Palley, Thomas (2004), ‘The Economic Case for International Labour Standards’, Cambridge Journal of Economics 28: 21-36.
Seguino, S. (2000), ‘Accounting for Gender in Asian Economic Growth’, Feminist Economics 6(3): 27-58.
Standing, G. (1999), ‘Global Feminisation Through Flexible Labor: A Theme Revisited’, World Development 27: 583-602.
Staveren, I. van (2002), ‘Global Finance and Gender’, in J.A Scholte and A. Schnabel (eds), Civil Society and Global Finance, London: Routledge, pp. 228-46.
Udry, C., Hoddinott, J., Alderman, H., and Haddad, L. (1995), ‘Gender Differentials in Farm Productivity: Implications for Household Efficiency and Agricultural Policy’, Food Policy 20(5): 407-23.
UNRISD (2005), Gender Equality: Striving for Justice in an Unequal World, Geneva: UNRISD
Warner, C.J.M., and Campbell, D.A. (2000), ‘Supply Response in an Agrarian Economy with non-Symmetric Gender Relations’, World Development 28(7):1327-40.
Whitehead, A. (2003), ‘Failing Women, Sustaining Poverty: Gender in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers’, Gender and Development Network
Yotopoulos, P. and M. Floro (1992), ‘Income Distribution, Transaction Costs and Market Fragmentation in Informal Credit Markets’, Cambridge Journal of Economics, 16: 303-326.
CEDAW: a standard of substantive equality and autonomy
The preamble to CEDAW4 states that: ‘States Parties to the International Covenants on Human Rights have the obligation to ensure the equal rights of men and women to enjoy all economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights’. The preamble to CEDAW begins by reaffirming faith in ‘the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women’; and notes that states which ratify CEDAW have ‘the obligation to ensure the equal rights of men and women to enjoy all economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights’. It also draws attention to ‘the social significance of maternity’ and states that ‘the role of women in procreation should not be a basis for discrimination but that the upbringing of children requires a sharing of responsibility between men and women and society as a whole’. It ends with recognising ‘that a change in the traditional role of men as well as the role of women in society and in the family is needed to achieve full equality between women and men’.
Article 1 defines discrimination against women, as ‘any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women… of human rights’. In Article 2, States Parties agree to pursue ‘by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women’. In particular they undertake to ‘refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against women and to ensure that public authorities and institutions shall act in conformity with this obligation’; and to ‘take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women by any person, organization or enterprise’. In Article 3, States Parties agree to take ‘all appropriate measures, including legislation, to ensure the full development and advancement of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men’. Article 4(1) recognizes the legitimacy of ‘temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women’. Article 5 enjoins States Parties to take all appropriate measures ‘to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women’. The rest of the Convention spells this out in greater detail with respect to particular issues like trafficking in women, participation in political and public life, education, employment, health, rural development, legal rights, marriage and the family, etc.
show that CEDAW mandates both substantive and formal equality and recognizes
that formal equality alone is insufficient for a State to meet its affirmative
obligation to achieve substantive equality between men and women (CEDAW,
General Recommendation 25, para. 8). Formal equality generally prohibits
the use of distinctions between men and women in law and policy. It
assumes that undifferentiated or identical treatment of men and women
is best suited to achieve equality between them. Substantive equality
goes one important step further and looks at the impact of laws, policies
and practices on women. Under the substantive equality model, laws and
policies that formally treat men and women identically and are not intentionally
discriminatory, are considered discriminatory if they have a disproportionately
negative impact on women. In this way, substantive equality requires
governments to achieve quantitative and/or qualitative ‘equality of
results’ (CEDAW, General Recommendation 25, para. 9). To meet Convention
obligations in this regard, States must give women an ‘equal start’
and provide an ‘enabling environment’ for women to enjoy equality
(CEDAW, General Recommendation 25, para. 9). To do this, States are
under an obligation to take note of biological and socially constructed
differences that may necessitate non-identical treatment, while working
to transform those socially constructed differences that are a result
of discrimination (CEDAW, General Recommendation 25, para. 9). The model
of substantive equality embodied in CEDAW also requires States to address
the causes of historically embedded discrimination that prevent the
achievement of substantive equality between men and women (CEDAW, General
Recommendation 25, para. 9).
Implications of CEDAW for government budgets
The achievement of substantive equality for women requires government action to ensure that the state functions without discrimination against women, and that the state works to overcome inequality in households, communities, markets and businesses. Unlike the Convention on the Rights of the Child, there is no specific article in CEDAW that links ‘appropriate measures’ to resources, but it is inconceivable that the ‘appropriate measures’ to achieve substantive equality between women and men would have no implications for public finance.
Public expenditure is required to fund the ‘appropriate measures’ repeatedly mentioned in CEDAW. All too often gender equality measures are introduced without a clear appropriation of funding for their implementation. There is a lack of clear and binding guidelines to spending Ministries requiring them to allocate their funds so as to realize such plans, and inadequate funding for the body (such as the Ministry of Women’s Affairs) that is meant to oversee the realization of the gender equality plans. New laws to promote equal opportunities and the advancement of women require funding if they are to be effectively implemented. For example, equal opportunity laws require a body to monitor their implementation, to provide training and advice to employers and employees, and to support women in litigation for equal opportunities. Gender equality measures without budgets are only half-measures.
CEDAW positions women as autonomous citizens, possessing their own rights and obliges States Parties to treat them as such, not merely as dependents of men. Article 16 requires that in family relations, men and women should be treated as equals, with the same rights. This implies that women must be treated as autonomous claimants on, and contributors to, the budget rather than as dependents that benefit from and contribute to government budgets via their relations with male family members. Thus revenue must be raised in ways that do not discriminate against women and do not perpetuate those traditional roles that are incompatible with substantive equality, such as assigning men the role of the family ‘breadwinner’ and women the role of their dependents. Tax systems must not be designed and implemented in ways that amplify pre-existing gender inequalities. For instance, systems of taxation should not be designed in ways that reinforce women’s unequal access to the labour market.
Macroeconomics of the budget
Aggregate expenditure and revenue must be managed in ways that create adequate fiscal resources for the elimination of discrimination and the full development and advancement of women. Cuts in expenditure should not be designed in ways that add to the amount of unpaid work that women have to do in families and communities. Sufficient tax revenue should be raised to provide adequate funding for the measures that are necessary to implement CEDAW. Debt repayments must not be allowed to crowd out funding for services essential for the realization of CEDAW.
Article 7 of
CEDAW requires that women should participate equally with men in budget
decision-making and the exercise of related legislative, judicial, executive
and administrative powers (CEDAW, General Recommendation 22, para. 5).
This means that women should participate equally with men in a number
of different capacities, including as government officials and ministers;
as members of legislatures; as members of public boards and trade unions;
and members of the judiciary (CEDAW, General Recommendation 22, para.
5). This requirement applies to all stages of the budget cycle: budget
formulation; legislation; implementation; and auditing and evaluation.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The report concludes that it is not possible to summarize the implications of public expenditure for gender equality in one single indicator. It is recommended that consideration should be given to the following issues:
• Priority given to gender equality and the advancement of women in distribution of public expenditure between programmes;
• Elimination of discrimination (in both policy and effect) against women in the distribution of public expenditure;
• Adequacy of public expenditure for realization of the obligation to achieve de facto gender equality;
• Gender equality in the impact of public expenditure;
• Gender equality and public expenditure reform.
The Report specifically recommends that:
• The share of expenditure going to females should be at least equal to their share of the relevant population, and should be more where equal expenditure is inadequate to overcome discrimination;
share of aggregate tax payments should be at least equal to their share
of income ((for equity in public finance requires that taxation be related
to ability to pay, and men on average have greater ability to pay than
women, because on average their incomes are higher).
trade reforms: Using gendered Social Accounting Matrices5
of Development Studies, Sussex
Trade reforms have uneven effects on women and men. These effects further vary depending on socioeconomic characteristics, sector and geographical region. The use of gender as a category of analysis makes it possible to better understand these patterns and help formulate equitable policies.
Feminist approaches emphasize the need to redefine the realm of economic analysis to include the non-market sphere of social reproduction as well as the market sphere of production. The many unpaid services provided within households, such as caring for the children and other dependents, are vital for social well-being and human development. To make these services visible is an important ingredient of any gender-aware assessment of trade impacts. Trade policies that leave out consideration of the unpaid economy and only include the paid market economy will be biased against women, because women have a social obligation to provide care to their families in ways that men do not.
Social Accounting Matrices (SAMs), if extended to include a range of gender disaggregations, can provide an effective framework to analyse the many channels through which trade and gender inequality interact. A SAM is a comprehensive economy-wide database that contains information about the flow of resources associated with all transactions that take place between economic actors and institutions in a given economy (usually an entire country) during a specific period of time (usually one calendar year). Because of its emphasis on social relations, it is an effective instrument for analysing income distribution. A SAM can be organised to highlight the gendered structure of an economy by integrating existing data sets with additional information on the gender division of labour both in the market and within households. SAMs can capture gender differences regarding: educational levels, sources of income and, importantly, time spent both in paid employment for the production of marketable goods and in the production of goods for own household consumption such as cooking, care of children, cleaning and community support services. The system of national accounts define these latter activities as economic by not productive.
SAMs constructed for Bangladesh and Zambia help to illustrate the usefulness of this tool for gender and trade impact assessments. The SAMs clearly show where women are located in the economy, their sources of income and patterns of consumption and, hence, highlight the gendered mechanisms through which changes in the domestic price of exports and imports may affect people’s well-being over a range of dimensions. In Bangladesh, where the main export is female-intensive (and low-skill intensive), women benefit in terms of paid employment opportunities when trade liberalisation is coupled with exchange rate depreciation. Conversely in Zambia, where the main export is a mineral resource that is highly capital and male-intensive in production, women are disadvantaged by tariff elimination even if coupled with exchange rate depreciation.
An important point made in feminist economics research (most notably Elson, 1991) is that increases in female market employment might be at the expense of the time women devote caring for their families, or, more likely, of their leisure. It often results in heavier work burdens and a decline in well-being. By incorporating social reproduction and leisure sectors, the Bangladesh and Zambia SAMs address these concerns and operationalize them numerically. They illustrate vividly how both in Bangladesh and Zambia the bulk of social reproduction work is undertaken by women, especially in poor rural areas.
The gendered SAMs of Bangladesh and Zambia provide an integrated framework for the analysis of the effects of trade on women which allows consideration of more constraints and interactions than it is possible using other methods. Most existing research on the gender impact of trade liberalisation looks at specific firms or sectors in isolation, or only at one aspect of welfare (employment or consumption), and hence does not provide sufficient analysis of linkages among different dimensions. Sectoral analysis neglects the indirect effects that change in one sector may have on prices, output and employment in other sectors (both market and non-market). Such approaches cannot produce an accurate measurement of net outcomes – it would not be possible to know whether, for example, the number of female jobs that are destroyed in sectors producing import-substitutes may be offset by female jobs created in female-intensive exporting sectors. Or whether the positive effect on wellbeing from higher wages and market employment would be more than offset by the negative impact on it from reduced leisure. Moreover, the use of a partial sectoral method to assess the impact of a trade shock in a non-female-intensive sector, would likely lead to conclude that the shock did not have any gender implications, even though the indirect effects on women were substantial.
the statistical basis for computable general equilibrium models (CGE).
A further step in the gender analysis of trade could include constructing
such a model. Gender norms in CGE models can be represented by changing
the value of key parameters regulating the functioning of labour and
other markets. Model simulations are instructive and should be important
inputs into the policy-making process but their results should be always
taken with great caution as they are based on very strong assumptions
about how labour and other markets work. Very few authors so far have
developed general equilibrium models with gender features (exceptions
are Fontana and Wood, 2000; Fontana, 2004; Fofana et al, 2005; Siddiqui,
2005). A growing number of studies use general equilibrium models to
assess the poverty impact of trade reforms (most recently Hertel and
Winters, 2006) but none of them include gender features. This even when
adding information on the gendered structure of the economy studied
could be done at little extra cost at the planning stage of the research.
It is hoped that more gender modelling will be encouraged in the future.
Elson, D. (1991), Male Bias in the Development Process, Manchester, Manchester Univ. Press.
Fofana, I, J. Cockburn and B. Decaluwe (2005), ‘Developing country superwoman: Impact of trade liberalization and female labor market and domestic work’ CIRPEE, Univ. of Laval Paper 05-19.
Fontana, M. (2004), ‘Modelling the effects of trade on women, at work and at home: Comparative Perspectives’, Economie Internationale, 99(3): 49-80.
Fontana, M. and A. Wood (2000), ‘Modelling the effects of trade on women, at work and at home’, World Development, 28(7): 1173-1190.
Fontana, M. and Y. van der Meulen Rodgers (2005), ‘Gender dimensions in the analysis of macro-poverty linkages’, ODI Development Policy Review, 23(3): 333-350.
Hertel, T and A. Winters (2006), Poverty and the WTO: Impacts of the Doha Development Agenda, New York: Palgrave McMillan.
(2005), ‘Modelling, gender dimensions of the impact of economic reforms
on time allocation among market, household, and leisure activities in
Pakistan’, Pakistan Development Review,
In the Practice
Gender and Development Network (GADN) UK6
Edited extracts from its Annual Report 2007-08
Since its founding in 1985, the Gender and Development Network has enabled gender and development practitioners to voice their concerns, lobby government and provide expert advice and critique on national and international policy and practice. Publications, research, and advocacy tools commissioned by the network form the basis of GADN advocacy activities and in the long-term, feed into government and institutional policy and practice around key gender issues. GADN research is also disseminated to partners and networks in the south, ensuring that critiques of international development institutions, international agreements and processes are widely read by southern NGOs working directly to address poverty, women’s empowerment and gender equality.
The GADN holds quarterly thematic meetings open to all its members, bringing speakers with specific expertise on issues relating to the work of the GAD Network and its members’ interest. The meetings provide a space for debate and analysis of current issues affecting gender equality and women’s rights and empowerment. The meetings offer to non-members (general public and members of government) a space for sharing information on debates and good practice in relation to gender and development. For many staff with responsibility for gender from UK development agencies the GADN is a place for sharing experience and gaining insight into how to address gender more effectively within their organisations.
During 2007, the GAD Network was actively lobbying and campaigning for key figures and representatives of the UK government and others to address pressing issues on gender and development. Here is a selected list of areas where the network has been working.
Women’s Rights & Gender Equality, the New Aid Environment and Civil Society Organisations: that report was researched and written by the Gender and Development Network because of a growing concern about the fast changing aid structures, such as direct budget support, pooled funding schemes for supporting civil society and other forms of donor alignment and their possible implications for work on gender equality and women’s rights issues, in the Global North and South. In many countries CSOs play a crucial role in working towards gender equality and women’s rights through representing, supporting and defending vulnerable groups of women; keeping gender equality and women’s rights issues on policymakers’ agendas; fighting for women’s rights at a legislative level; and holding governments and other stakeholders to account over their implementation of gender-related commitments. Understanding how they are faring under the new aid mechanisms becomes critical in understanding whether current funding is supporting or inhibiting the commitment to gender equality and women’s rights present in so many policies. The report reflects the voices of organisations working for gender equality and women’s rights from around the world, and reveals that many women’s organisations and those focused on challenging gender inequality feel threatened as the focus of funding moves in the direction of larger grants, tighter, short term targets, demonstrable and ‘scaled up’ results, and intensive administration.
UN Reform: The GAD Network has been lobbying the UK government and others to ensure that the UN reform process currently underway includes provisions for the creation of a fully funded, independent, UN women’s entity that will be responsible for driving forward the UN’s work to promote gender equality and women’s rights and to ensure effective ‘mainstreaming’ of gender equality across all of the UN entities.
World Bank Policy on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
The GAD Network wrote to Hilary Benn in April 2007 to express concern about the direction of World Bank policy on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, in particular since the removal of key indicators on contraceptive prevalence from the Madagascar Country Assistance Strategies. Referring to his own opening statements in the 2004 DFID position paper, in which he committed the government to support countries and partners to uphold sexual and reproductive rights, we ask the UK government to insist that the Bank uphold its commitments to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights, family planning, contraception etc. We received a positive response from Hilary Benn in May 2007 saying that the UK government had got assurances from the World Bank that improving sexual and reproductive health and rights remained a crucial aspect of the Bank’s policy.
We are currently finalising GADN work plan for 2008-2009. Currently its objectives are:
Mainstreaming: Closing the Policy-Practice Gap7
International development organisations use mainstreaming as a strategy to address a range of equality issues such as gender, disability, HIV/AIDS, ageing, environment, conflict prevention, minority rights and ethnicity. Mainstreaming equality issues is about understanding that not everyone can access political power, opportunities or services in the same way. Factors such as gender, social status, race, ability, age or even coming from a poor country shapes our options and choices. Women’s rights advocates have used gender mainstreaming for the past 20 years to address inequality between women and men. Many valuable lessons have been learned but these fail to inform the practise of mainstreaming other equality issues.
The term gender mainstreaming sounds complex but simply put, it is about ensuring a gender perspective is explicit in all policy and practice. It is about ensuring that both women and men benefit equally from political, economic and social change. Similarly mainstreaming disability is about putting a disability perspective into policy, or mainstreaming HIV is to put an HIV perspective into policy. One World Action’s ‘Closing the Gap’ research in South Africa, Nicaragua and Bangladesh explored the barriers to effective mainstreaming and identified the essential conditions for getting it right.8 This leaflet presents the twelve essentials of mainstreaming.
Equal property rights in Bangladesh: The Adarsha Gram is a rural resettlement project funded by the Government of Bangladesh and the European Commission to address the needs of poor people by distributing government-owned land to peasant families and providing infrastructure such as houses and latrines. The project ensures that the title deeds to houses built under the project are in the names of both husband and wife on equal terms. By linking gender equality objectives to poverty reduction, the project extended property rights to women which in turn allowed women to exert more influence in the household.
Equal representation in political life in South Africa: The rapid increase in women’s political participation in South Africa is a shining example [of mainstreaming]. Under the apartheid government women were 2.8% of parliamentary representatives, today South Africa has about 50% representation of women in politics beating the world average of 15%. Two main factors contributed: first, the decades of struggle by the women in the African National Congress (ANC); and second, the policies and affirmative action mechanisms adopted by the ANC government. Women parliamentarians have successfully influenced the work of government departments, particularly on housing, water, justice, local government, trade and industry. The goal was clear: equal representation. The strategy: positive action in the form of quotas.
Mainstreaming disability in Nicaragua: The rights of disabled people tend to be left out of most development agendas despite estimates that 55% of people who are disabled live below the poverty line. FEMUCADI is a federation of disabled women representing individual women and 18 local disabled women’s groups. Disabled women encounter multiple forms of discrimination. Not only do they have to lobby the government to implement disability legislation, but they have to mobilise to make sure their demands are taken up by national movements. For example, FEMUCADI is lobbying for explicit reference to disabled women in the Women’s Movement proposed reforms to the Equal Opportunities Law, and is promoting gender mainstreaming in the national disability movement. Likewise, the specific interests of women who are also disabled have to be made visible to international policy makers and donors so that policy and practice are more responsive.
Access to justice in Bangladesh: Nagorik Uddyog’s Access to Justice programme focuses on improving access to informal and formal justice systems for poor and marginalised groups in rural areas. NU knows that a significant proportion of women accessing NU’s services have a similar background. Most are abandoned by their husbands, widowed, divorced or separated or living in women-headed households. NU conducted participatory action research to determine how to reach and more fully integrate the needs of these groups of women in existing programmes. Targeting these groups of women in Bangladesh is an effective strategy because although everyone knows they exist in large numbers, development programmes do not address their specific needs. NU’s experience shows how conducting thorough analysis helps to identify problems and tailor solutions.
The case of Guatemala: Senior men open to gender issues launched a specific initiative to advance gender mainstreaming in the EU Guatemala Delegation. A staff member was put in charge of gender, all officials and visiting experts have compulsory gender training, and an internal gender committee was set up to develop proposals and technical guidelines. A Gender Sub-Commission of representatives from government, civil society, European NGOs and the Delegation now works to improve co-ordination, coherence and effectiveness of development co-operation. Gender experts now evaluate all projects and are included in appraisal planning missions.
Tackling HIV/AIDS in Angola: Rede Mulher (Women’s Network) is the first network of its kind in Angola promoting women’s human rights and gender issues. With over 80 members its work includes issues of women’s health and HIV/AIDS, women and decision-making, violence against women and peace building. Accao Humana, a member of Rede Mulher, is an HIV/AIDS NGO providing support to people living with HIV/AIDS and their families. In 2004 they formed a coalition to promote the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS. As a direct result of lobbying by Accao Humana and the coalition, the Angolan government passed an anti-discrimination law in relation to HIV and in March 2004 opened a hospital in Luanda providing free anti-retroviral drugs and treatment to HIV positive people. Rede Mulher and Accao Humana recognise that tackling gender inequality is integral to the fight against HIV/AIDS.
About WIDE: WIDE is a European feminist network of women’s organisations, development NGOs, gender specialists and women’s rights activists. WIDE monitors and influences international economic and development policy and practice from a feminist perspective. It promotes gender equality and social justice. WIDE’s work is grounded on women’s rights as the basis for the development of a more just and democratic world order and the search for alternative approaches to the economic mainstream. WIDE strives for a world based on gender equality and social justice that ensures equal rights for all, as well as equal access to resources and opportunities in all spheres of political, social and economic life. The vision of WIDE is that the persistently increasing trend of the feminisation of poverty in the South, East and North is halted and women’s human rights are safeguarded globally. WIDE’s mission is to articulate the relevance of the principles of gender equality and equity to the development process through research, documentation, information dissemination, economic empowerment, capacity building and advocacy, networking, and the organisation of conferences. WIDE is based on three pillars: WIDE as network, capacity building and lobbying, advocacy and awareness raising.