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At the turn of the millennium, gender mainstreaming was a relatively new concept in Eastern and Southern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Activists, policy makers, and legislators who were concerned with securing greater equality between women and men had made many advances in terms of putting women's rights on the legislative agenda, but integrating a gender perspective into all areas of policy and decision-making was lagging far behind  .
Gender refers to the socially constructed rather than biologically determined roles of men and women as well as the relationships between them in a given society at a specific time and place. These roles and relationships are not fixed, but can and do change.
Gender mainstreaming has been defined by the United Nations Economic and Social
Council as '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 the policies and programs in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated'. The relative status of men and women, the interaction between gender and race, class and ethnicity, and questions of rights, control, ownership, power, and voice-all have a critical impact on the success and sustainability of every development intervention. 
In practice, gender mainstreaming means identifying gaps in gender equality through the use of sex-disaggregated data, developing strategies to close those gaps, putting resources and expertise into implementing strategies for gender equality, monitoring implementation, and holding individuals and institutions accountable for results. Gender mainstreaming is not an end in itself; it is a process whose ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality. 
PMU's Approach to Achieving Gender Equality:
PMU has a two-pronged mandate for working towards gender equality: gender mainstreaming and women's empowerment. Women's empowerment measures may certainly figure as specific interventions within a gender mainstreaming approach. However, while capacity for gender mainstreaming is still being strengthened, it is important to pay specific and targeted attention to women's empowerment measures. Gender mainstreaming is not only a question of social justice but is necessary for ensuring equitable and sustainable human development. The long-term outcome of gender mainstreaming will be the achievement of greater and more sustainable human development for all. Clearly, a gender mainstreaming approach does not make obsolete the need for specific policies, programs, or projects on gender equality. The level of intervention (from basic "gender sensitivity" to comprehensive, targeted programs for women or for men) will depend on the specific needs and priorities revealed by a gender-sensitive situation assessment (i.e., gender analysis).
Gender Mainstreaming within Organizational Structures and Environments
As a comprehensive strategy, gender mainstreaming must also address the environment (corporate, office, etc.) in which policies and programs are developed and implemented. Thus a strategy to integrate gender concerns into programming must be accompanied by a strategy to ensure that the working environment is gender-sensitive, guaranteeing equal opportunities and treatment to both men and women. Sufficient technical capacity and human resources to successfully implement gender mainstreaming must also be ensured.
Gender mainstreaming makes a gender dimension explicit in all policy sectors. Gender equality is no longer viewed as a "separate question," but becomes a concern for all policies and programs. Furthermore, a gender mainstreaming approach does not look at women in isolation, but looks at men and women-both as actors in the development process and as its beneficiaries. Unlike a "gender neutral" approach to development, a gender mainstreaming approach does not assume that policies and interventions will affect men and women, boys and girls, in the same way. Significantly, gender mainstreaming differs from a "women in development" (WID) approach in that it takes as its starting point a thorough and rigorous analysis of the development situation, rather than a priori assumptions about women's roles and problems. Experience has shown that gender issues differ by country, region, and concrete situation. Moreover, this same experience shows that men and women often have different needs and priorities, and that opportunities provided by policies and projects, as well as their outcomes, often affect these groups unequally. Gender mainstreaming seeks to redress this inequality. For these reasons, gender mainstreaming has a distinct advantage compared to both a "gender neutral" and a WID approach:
â€¢ Gender mainstreaming uses available resources in a way that ensures the greatest benefit for all.
â€¢ Gender mainstreaming identifies and uses opportunities for improving gender equality in projects and policies that would not have otherwise been considered gender issues.
â€¢ Gender mainstreaming can include concrete initiatives for women in strategic areas such as legislation, choice, and participation in decision-making, but can also address the hidden biases that lead to inequitable situations for men and women in all sectors of policy making.
â€¢ In operational terms, gender mainstreaming allows policy makers and practitioners not only to focus on the outcomes of gender inequality but also to identify and address the processes that cause it.
What Remains to Be Done?
As stated, there must be better enforcement of gender equality legislation. This can occur through the combined efforts of civil society from below and international pressure from above, compelling national governments to improve their compliance and implementation of gender equality legislation. For instance, given the emphasis on PRSPs in a number of countries in the Europe and CIS region, it is important to mainstream gender in PRSP design, implementation, and monitoring. One
example of how civil society was involved in the PRSP process in Serbia is presented in the section on Poverty. Gender budget analyses described in the section on Macroeconomics and Trade and gender-based monitoring and evaluation indicators can further assist in this process. Beyond the PRSP, it is important for policy makers and practitioners to mainstream gender into all development programmes, as such approaches will not only promote greater gender equality but they will also assist in poverty reduction and economic growth.. Gender mainstreaming is not an isolated exercise, but an integral part of the project or policy cycle.
Step 1 concerns the people involved in the policy-making process. These individuals, along with their values and understanding of gender issues, will significantly affect the outcome of PMU's policy or project. During Step 1 PMU seeks answers to the following four key questions:
Who are the stakeholders? Do they include individuals or groups with a "gender perspective"?
Gender mainstreaming means that "gender" stakeholders need to be identified and included throughout the policy or project cycle. Multiple stakeholders bring greater accountability and a wider variety of options to the policy-making process. This also introduces a series of "checks and balances" against competing viewpoints. Negotiating these multiple viewpoints will result in better policy-making.
Is there gender balance in all departments and bodies involved?
If strong gender imbalance exists among stakeholders or the core policy-making group (for example, less than 30 percent of one sex), you should take measures to involve more of the underrepresented gender - be it men or women. Introduce quotas for participation, if necessary. Good representation of both genders is a sign of democratic, inclusive policy-making, where all viewpoints can be heard.
Where is gender expertise available?
Stakeholders with gender expertise will help identify entry points for gender mainstreaming and implement a mainstreaming approach throughout the entire project or policy-making cycle. These experts are important allies. Such expertise might be found with policy-making colleagues, academics, consultants, civil society organizations/ community groups, or development partners. Bringing this expertise aboard is mainstreaming at its most basic level.
What specific knowledge and skills can different stakeholders contribute?
When bringing "gender stakeholders" aboard, PMU considers what sort of contributions they can make to your policy-making or project development process. PMU should be able to provide a direct link to men and women in the community and can help identify and articulate the needs and wishes of those individuals.
GENDER MAINSTREAMIG TOOL: Gender Sensitive Stakeholder Matrix
This matrix provides a checklist of potential gender-sensitive stakeholders, and suggests ways in which they may positively contribute to the gender mainstreaming process.
Mainstreaming a Gender Agenda:
What Is the Issue?
During Step 2, PMU should first identify their main development problem or issue. This can be accomplished by answering a few basic questions:
What is the subject of PMU's project or policy-making initiative?
Does this issue affect men and women in different ways?
Experience has shown that in almost all cases, the issue does affect men and women in different ways. In these instances, this means that the specific ways in which men and women are differently affected need to be further investigated (see Steps 4 and 5). Gender analysis is a vital part of clarifying the precise gender dimension of the issue.
Moving Towards Gender Equality:
What Is the Goal?
Once you PMU identified the "subject" of its project or policy-making initiative, it should discern what its goal is by asking:
What do we (the PMU) want to achieve?
In Step 2, PMU will have identified any gender dimensions of the policy issue. It is also equally important to make this gender dimension explicit in PMU's policy goal. To do so, PMU needs to identify gender-related goals that are corrective (those goals that correct the gender-blindness of policies and projects) and transformative (those goals that integrate a broader commitment to enhancing gender equality through the policy or project). Note, as well, that some goals are both corrective and transformative.
â€¢ Does the goal address the needs and concerns of both women and men?
Many project or policy goals are "gender blind"-i.e., they do not account for the fact that men and women often have different needs and concerns. Corrective goals thus deliberately seek to address the needs and concerns of both genders. If men or women are disadvantaged in the given situation, then the policy goal should seek to redress this imbalance. These goals are thus "corrective" in that they correct gender-blindness by drawing specific attention to the needs and concerns of female target beneficiaries and of male target beneficiaries.
â€¢ Does the goal include a broader commitment to changing the institutions, attitudes, or other factors that hamper gender equality?
The policy or project goal should also be examined in the light of gender equality more broadly. Perhaps elements of the institutions, structures, or underlying principles that contextualize the issue fundamentally hinder de facto equality between men and women. These goals are thus "transformative" in that they are about transforming the institutions and structures (social, political, economic, cultural, etc.) of the policy context, so that full gender equality can be more readily achieved.
Mapping the Situation:
What Information Does PMU Have?
In Step 2 PMU has discerned what its policy issue is and identified potential gender dimensions of this issue. In Step PMU has identified the overall intended goals of its policy or project interventions, ensured these are gender sensitive, and considered other potential gender-specific goals their policy or project might adopt. In Step 4, "Mapping the Situation", PMU must start thinking about refining its potential policy interventions. In order to do this, it is important to have an inventory of information that will affect its proposed policy or project. This information specifically asks about the gender-related dimensions in this project or policy issue:
â€¢ What information does PMU have about how this issue affects men and women differently?
â€¢ What information does PMU not have?
â€¢ What projects or policy interventions related to this issue have already happened?
â€¢ What projects or policies are currently in place that relate to this issue?
â€¢ What other interventions related to this issue is planned?
Answering the above questions will help PMU focus on "filling in the gaps" by commissioning or undertaking necessary research and planning complementary initiatives. It will also help to avoid duplication.
A Gender-Sensitive Approach to Sector Policy and Programs
â€¢ Do policies in each sector or policy area reflect a gender perspective?
A review of all policies and programs in a specific sector or policy area should be conducted to more thoroughly examine the extent to which a gender perspective has been taken into consideration. This review should ask and seek answers to the following questions:
â€¢ Was gender expertise part of the information and consultation inputs into programs and policy formulation?
â€¢ Does the policy explicitly address gender issues in defining the problem?
â€¢ Do policy actions and solutions consider the potentially differential impact on men and women?
Are target groups identified accordingly?
A gender audit of policy should also point to any gaps where new policies on specific gender issues might be necessary (e.g., policy on gender-based violence or anti-discrimination in the work-force).
Refining the Issue: Research and Analysis
"Mapping the Situation" (Step 4) will have underlined where a gender-mainstreaming perspective is specifically required. Existing policies may need to be amended in order to include a gender perspective, or new policies may need to be developed. Step 4 should also have made clear where gaps in PMU's current information base exist. During Step 5, PMU will need to conduct or commission research that will fill in these gaps. This is absolutely crucial in order to guarantee the credibility, efficiency, and effectiveness of any projects or policies PMU develops. This means PMU needs to undertake gender analysis - i.e., either PMU will need to conduct general research in your policy area that integrates a gender perspective, or you will need to conduct specific research on one or various gender dimensions linked to your policy area.
This phase involves:
â€¢ Specifying the research question(s)
â€¢ Designing and undertaking the research OR
â€¢ Calling for research proposals and outsourcing the research
â€¢ Evaluating and drawing conclusions from the research
Deciding on a Course of Action:
Designing Policy Interventions and Budgets
By this stage, PMU is likely already considering some general ideas for interventions that will help PMU attain the broad goals it articulated in Step 3. Now PMU will have to decide on the most appropriate course of action.
Crucial Considerations for Policy Options
Choosing the "correct" course for policy or project intervention is rarely straightforward. It involves balancing a number of crucial considerations, including:
Efficiency - How can PMU balance desired outcomes with limited resources?
Effectiveness - How much of the situation will PMU be able to influence through policy intervention, and to what degree?
Gender equality - How and to what extent can PMU address social and historical disparities between men and women?
All types of impact of each option need to be assessed. After weighing these considerations carefully, PMU will be ready to formulate your intervention. Moreover, external factors may restrict PMU options or highlight additional challenges that need to be addressed. For example, there may be political considerations, budgetary restrictions, or other conditions placed on resource allocations by donors or international financial institutions. While many of these considerations may be beyond your control or scope of influence, PMU's objective is to propose the best and most gender-equitable policy or project it can. Even if PMU is unable to control the ways in which it may be amended, restricted, or expanded, it can propose a gender equality benchmark in your policy or project draft that can be used and referred to during the advocacy and approval process.
Gender Policy assessment
The results of this assessment should be considered when weighing policy options. Additionally, PMU should consider:
What might the wider consequences be of failing to adopt a gender-sensitive option?
If PMU is unable to conduct a full-scale Gender Impact Assessment for each policy option, at the minimum a Gender Impact Assessment should be conducted for the course of action PMU finally settles on. This is crucial in order to anticipate any unexpected ways in which the policy or project might fail to address current gender inequalities -or how it might even make these inequalities worse. Once all analyses and assessments are completed, PMU will be ready to finalize its plan of action. This will entail preparing the actual policy or project document and the required budget.
Advocacy Strategies: Gender Matters!
One crucial aspect of gender mainstreaming involves developing advocacy strategies that will help PMU gain support for its gender mainstreaming initiatives. Because experience has shown that decision-makers are sometimes reluctant to devote scarce resources to gender equality activities, decision-makers (especially those who control budgets) need to be convinced that their investment in gender equality will pay off. Decision-makers need to be presented with information that highlights, concretely and precisely, why gender matters. In other words, PMU must illustrate what development problems gender equality contributes to solving, and what specific benefits a gender-aware perspective will bring to the organization, individuals (men and women), and the nation as a whole. Well-defined justifications and arguments will increase PMU's chances of receiving financial and political support for any planned interventions. The "Added Value" of Gender Mainstreaming Advocacy strategies for adapting a gendered approach and for promoting gender equality in all projects and policies generally falls into one of the following six categories:
â€¢ Justice and Equality
â€¢ Credibility and Accountability
â€¢ Efficiency and Sustainability (the "macro" dimension)
â€¢ Quality of Life (the "micro" dimension)
â€¢ Chain Reaction
Justice and Equality: These strategies stress the value of democratic principles and basic human rights, which demand gender equality. Justice strategies can be used to argue for equal representation and participation of both genders in various contexts, premised on the basic notion of their shared human rights.
Credibility and Accountability: Credibility strategies remind decision-makers that men and women each make up half the population. Therefore, any data, policy, or recommendation that does not recognize and address both sexes equally is not credible. If a policy does not account for the entire population, it can ever only be a partial solution. These strategies are useful for justifying gender impact assessments, or calling for more gender balance in decision-making processes.
Efficiency and Sustainability: These strategies make clear an irrefutable fact: Equal inclusion of men and women in all aspects of development and society pays off for the country as a whole. Nations cannot afford to ignore the contributions and economic and social capacities of both men and women in all spheres. The development of any country that does so will ultimately suffer in the medium and long-term. This is an approach that addresses the macro aspects of development - i.e., the welfare and prosperity of a nation as a whole. These justifications are particularly effective because they address the bottom line: money.
Chain Reaction: Lastly, all of the above approaches are strengthened when the links between them are highlighted. Gender equality can in fact produce a "chain reaction" of benefits. The chain reaction strategy shows how investment in gender equality will bring not only short-term, localized benefits, but medium and long-term benefits that will ripple through society strengthening the nation as a whole. (Similarly, these strategies highlight how inequalities spread from individuals to infect the well-being of their families and communities as well.)
Too often, once important gender-sensitive initiatives are completed, the gender issues disappear from the policy agenda. As long as these considerations remain marginalized from mainstream policy agenda-setting, a transformation of gender roles and relations - leading to greater gender equality and positive outcomes for the nation as a whole - will always remain beyond our grasp.