UNFPA - United Nations Population Fund

State of World Population 2005



© Jacob Silberberg/Panos Pictures
Three girls watch as their teacher points to a chalk board in a school classroom in the village of Koutagba,
South Benin.

Strategic Investments:
The Equality Dividend

-A Poverty of Opportunity and Choices

-Critical Investments, Large Payoffs

-Reconciling Productive and Reproductive Roles

-Accountability for Gender Justice

Accountability for Gender Justice

Despite many commitments-the 1994 ICPD, the 1995 Beijing Conference and the 2000 Millennium Summit, among others-gender inequality remains a pressing human rights and development issue. Too often, addressing discrimination is a matter of rhetoric or ad hoc efforts rather than sustained and institutionalized practice. Continuing the "business as usual" approach to gender equality can derail efforts to reach the MDGs. Staying on track for the MDGs calls for accountability on the part of governments, parliamentarians, employers, other key national actors and the international community. Closer partnerships between governments and civil society, including women's groups and other non-governmental, community-based and professional associations, are essential in providing the impetus for change and in promoting continuity during administrative transitions.

DATA: TRACKING EQUITY AND EQUALITY. Accountability relies on data for establishing benchmarks and measuring progress. Many countries lack data and analysis disaggregated by sex, age and ethnicity, among other characteristics, that limit policy and programme development.(86) Since gender equality is a core component of the MDGs, good data are essential for effective policies and resource allocation, for example, calculating poverty indicators according to sex rather than only by total household income, as is now the case.(87) More accurate and extensive data will be critical for advocacy to keep gender issues in the public and media spotlight, to improve communities' and policymakers' understanding of gender issues and to stimulate action.

Governments, United Nations organizations, the regional economic commissions and the Demographic and Health Surveys have made progress in gendersensitive data collection and analysis.(88) While progress has been made in developing data methodologies that capture gender differences, a limited number of countries make use of them.(89) Particularly innovative is the Index of Fulfilled Commitments developed in Chile by women's organizations to monitor governmental accountability in the key areas of citizen participation, economic rights and reproductive health.(90) Although better data are essential for implementing the MDGs,(91) information alone will not produce changes. The purpose of information and analysis is to help policymakers integrate gender issues into all levels of policymaking, especially in the formulation of national poverty reduction strategies.(92)

MAINSTREAMING GENDER: PROMISES, PRACTICES AND PROSPECTS. Gender mainstreaming is essential to the implementation and monitoring of the MDGs. It means assessing the implications of policies and programmes for women and men by taking into account their different roles, needs and perspectives, so that inequalities are not perpetuated and both may benefit. (93) Gender mainstreaming also means examining how gender dynamics affect decision-making within families and communities-including whether girls will be sent to school and whether women have influence over how family resources are spent.(94)

Governments, civil society, women's groups, donors, development banks and the UN System have worked to strengthen their gender mainstreaming efforts. Many governments have established national women's ministries or units.(95) Progress, however, has been uneven and limited to smaller projects in most countries. Resources are generally inadequate, and misconceptions about the nature and purpose of gender mainstreaming hold back change.(96) Gender mainstreaming is often viewed as a woman's issue and segregated in under-funded women's ministries.(97)

On the other hand, some countries, including postapartheid South Africa and post-war Cambodia (see Box 33), have taken advantage of political transitions to mainstream gender across development strategies. In South Africa, a powerful women's movement; a strong government mandate to mainstream gender; a new constitution; a supportive legal framework; and gender-sensitive budgeting have all contributed to a successful gender mainstreaming strategy.(98) Malawi has embarked on gender training for policymakers, district assembly staff and media representatives, as have many other countries seeking to build and expand capacity in this area.(99) In West African countries, government officials from ministries of planning and public administration, parliamentarians, political party leaders and labour unions have been trained on a gender-sensitive approach with UNFPA support. Specific efforts are being made to work with teams responsible for formulating national poverty reduction strategies. In the Arab States, UNFPA has collaborated with the Centre for Arab Women, Training and Research on integrating gender in development planning and policies, training government officials and improving collection and analysis of sex-disaggregated data.(100)

In the Dominican Republic, with UNFPA support, the Ministry of Women's Affairs has formed partnerships with the Ministry of Defense, the national police, congress, the women's movement, the UN and donors. The Government's commitment to mainstreaming gender is reflected in the creation of Gender Equity and Development Offices in all ministries. Violence against women is being tackled through legislative reform and the formation of coalitions between political parties and among the 700 women who hold local political office.

Achievements include the revision of school curricula so they are more gender-sensitive; a new law on domestic violence; criminal code reform; new migration and anti-trafficking laws; legal protections for elderly women; a data registration system on violence; a shelter for trafficked and returned women; and equipment specifically earmarked for the Integral Health Care Units for Abused Women that are now being set up in the offices of public prosecutors.

In Nicaragua, the Government's Emergency Fund for Social Investment (FISE), the leading channel for disbursing funds under national poverty reduction and development policies, is being assisted by UNFPA to mainstream gender. FISE projects, directed to rural communities, are becoming increasingly "gender democratic". Women are now being encouraged to participate in decision-making within the organizations and businesses they run, own and profit from-including the establishment of schools, mills, dairies, poultry operations and water and sanitation systems.

FOLLOWING THE MONEY: GENDER-RESPONSIVE BUDGETING. Gender-responsive budgeting is an innovative approach designed to influence policy and improve government accountability towards gender equality goals. It promotes economic efficiency, equality, accountability and transparency.(101) Careful analysis of budgets using sex-disaggregated data can reveal funding gaps so that priorities can be adjusted to advance poverty reduction, gender equality and development.

Various civil society organizations around the world and leading women economists have advanced the field. UNIFEM has provided support to gender budget initiatives in some 30 countries, and other UN agencies and donors have more recently joined in supporting this work, with more than 50 countries now applying this approach.(102) South Africa was among the first to implement gender budgeting in 1995. Rwanda's budget prioritizes gender equality, and all sectoral budgets are prepared with the Ministry of Gender's participation.(103) In Mexico, a well-recognized gender budgeting process was initiated by non-governmental organizations.(104) In Chile, procedures for gender-responsive analysis of policies and budgets were introduced by the Ministry of Finance in 2001, and gender is one of six mandatory areas for reporting by ministries.(105) Botswana offered training on gender-sensitive budgeting to government officials and parliamentarians, as has Malaysia for selected ministries. Guidelines were issued for mainstreaming gender across ministry budgets in the United Republic of Tanzania.(106) UNFPA has supported efforts in countries ranging from Cape Verde to Guatemala to Malaysia.

Gender budgeting has also been applied at decentralized levels of government with some success. In Cuenca, Ecuador, a gender-responsive budgeting exercise supported by UNIFEM led to the adoption of an Equal Opportunities Plan that emphasizes addressing gender-based violence through social, legal and health services. The city's budget for 2003 increased resources devoted to promoting gender equality by 15 times as compared to 2001.(107) In Paraguay, a UNFPA-supported gender budget analysis by the Commission on Social Equity and Gender in the Municipality of Asunción led to a 300 per cent increase in allocations for family planning commodities for the capital's Polyclinic.

In South Asia, a region with large populations living in poverty, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka have launched gender budgeting initiatives with UNIFEM support. India quantified the economic role of women, analysed the impact of programmes on food security, health and women's employment, and reviewed public expenditures in technical education. In a 2004 speech, the Finance Minister announced that the 2005 budget would be formulated with a gender perspective, directing 18 ministries to submit their 2005 budgets reflecting allocations and expenditure on women.(108)

PUSHING FOR CHANGE: CIVIL SOCIETY'S CRITICAL ROLE. Promoting gender equality requires stakeholders to engage in strong efforts to alter the status quo. Civil society, and women's groups in particular, have a central role to play in supporting community participation, offering gender expertise and maintaining policy focus and accountability. These groups are also well-positioned to identify and promote gender-sensitive responses to poverty reduction throughout the decision-making process-from involvement in policy design and in setting budget priorities to monitoring results.(109)

One good example is the ten-year partnership between the Latin America and Caribbean Women's Health Network and UNFPA. The Network pioneered a methodology for monitoring ICPD goals and reporting on progress periodically. The database of indicators known as Atenea has become a leading reference for gender-sensitive information on ICPD follow-up. The data and analyses have been used by parliamentarians and government officials, served as the foundation for public policy formulation in Suriname, and formed the basis of reporting on women's rights by civil society organizations.

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