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The Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 approved gender mainstreaming as a key strategy for promoting equality between women and men. Many international organizations including the United Nation were entitled to implement the strategy in their work.
In 1997 the Economic and Social Council provided concrete guidelines on how the United Nations should work to incorporate gender perspectives in its work programmes (ECOSOC Agreed Conclusions 1997/2).
The importance of the gender mainstreaming strategy was reinforced in the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly to follow-up the implementation of the Platform for Action (June 2000).
The strong focus on the advancement of women and gender equality has led to increased international recognition of the importance of gender perspectives, such as poverty reduction, human rights and good governance. Moreover, these perspectives must be taken into account in data collection, analysis, policy making and planning, to ensure the achievement of gender equality, effective and sustainable development and peace and security.
Although, it is easy to secure agreement for gender mainstreaming as an important strategy for promoting gender equality, implementation of this strategy has proven more difficult than its predictions.
The implementation of gender mainstreaming can primarily require significant changes in how business is done. Trying to bring the realities of both women and men to bear on data collection, analysis, planning and monitoring in all areas of development, requires specific knowledge and capacity.
Gender Mainstreaming Definition:
“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 gender equality.” (ECOSOC 1997)
Meaning that, gender mainstreaming in all decisions, will take into account that there are women and men in different situations; which will prevent discrimination between the sexes. It is not about few individuales dealing with gender issues, but all individuals are challenged to think about this equality between women and men. Never the less, gender mainstreaming is a strategy to ensure that equality is realized as a state responsibility.
However, gender means is not about being women or men, it is taking into considiration the variety and diversity of people, for the reason that we live in a world that is impacted by the allocation of gender roles. People are judged by their behaver based on gender expectations. Therefore, gender mainstreaming is an organizing principle, gender is the analytical point for gender-sensitive work, and equality is the goal to be achieved.
The dimensions of gender mainstreaming:
Gender mainstreaming is both of gendered political and policy practice and a new gendered strategy for theory of development. As a practice, gender mainstreaming is a practice to promote gender equality. It is also intended to improve the effectively of mainlines of policy by making visible the gendered nature of assumption, process and outcomes. However, as a form of theory gender mainstreaming is a process of revision of key concept to grasp more adequate a world that is gendered, rather than establishing a separate gender theory. (Walby 2005).
Reasons for implementation of gender mainstreaming:
“Gender mainstreaming is not an end in itself, but a means to an end”. (Vijayakumar 2006). Gender mainstreaming does not involve developing separate women’s projects within work programmes, or even women’s components within existing activities in the work programmes. It requires an attention to gender perspectives as an integral part of all activities across all programmes. This involves making gender perspectives more central to all policy development, research, development, implementation and monitoring of norms and standards.
It is important to see the linkages between gender mainstreaming and the promotion of equal opportunities and gender balance within the organization itself. Organizational culture and organizational values are important in terms of creating work environments which are encouraging to gender mainstreaming.
The gender mainstreaming strategy does not mean that targeted activities to support women are no longer necessary. Such activities specifically target women’s priorities and needs, through, legislation and policy development.
Women-specific projects play an important role in promoting gender equality. They are needed because gender equality has not yet been attained and gender mainstreaming processes are not well developed.
Gender mainstreaming strategies and gender equality strategies are important for reducing existing gaps, serving as a channel for promotion of gender equality and creating a constituency for changing the mainstream. Gender mainstreaming can create an empowering space for women.
Gender mainstreaming strategies, that focuses on men support promotion of gender equality by developing male buddies. It is vital to understand that these two strategies, gender mainstreaming and women’s empowerment, are in no way in competition with each other. (Braams 2007).
Gender empowerment strategies have worked for year on capacity building for women themselves. However, Gender mainstreaming can be one of the most effective Strategies supporting gender equality.
Gender mainstreaming is a way of ensuring that policy and decision-making take account of women’s and men’s different interests and needs. For gender mainstreaming, decision-making on policy measures and priorities has to be organized in a way as to do justice to the differences between men and women. (EC 2007).
Gender mainstreaming policy should respond to changes in requirements, interest and perception with regard to women’s and men’s social roles, as it promotes equality. Moreover, it can’t be accomplishes by one actor, it is a combination on individuals and organizations at all level.
Gender Mainstreaming helps in the following qualities at work; first, gender mainstreaming it focus on equitable distribution of resources between women and men. Second, Gender mainstreaming supports for equal opportunities policy at all levels of the organization. Third, Gender mainstreaming supports for equal opportunities policy at all levels of the organization; engendering of knowledge, skills and attitudes.
Never the less, Gender equality and the right to equal participation in all sectors of society are fundamental Human Rights. Gender mainstreaming is a process for ensuring equity, equality and gender justice in all of the critical areas of the lives of women and men. (Vijayakumar 2006). Moreover, it increases the effectiveness and eficiency of the work. It is known that men are more rational and women are more emotional, lets asume the assumption, then the brainstorming and decisions made will be better if they are taken by both sexes.
Gender mainstreaming should be implemented at two levels; the organization and organization’ programmes, in order to benefit from it the most.( World Bank 2003).
In order for and organization to contribute to greater gender equality should have the following structures, policies and procedures in place.
First, a clear policy on its commitment on gender police, and it is supported by senior and middle management.
Second, Human resources practices that is sensitive to the gender needs and interests of both women and men on the organization’s staff, as well as in their constituency.
Third, Internal tracking and monitoring capacity to ensure that the strategy is being reached, and this may include some monitoring on staff recruitment and promotions and the performance of managers and supervisors in discussing and following up on gender equality initiatives.
Fourth, a central gender mainstreaming unit with policy responsibility and mandate to guide the overall gender mainstreaming process.
Finally, a recognized network of staff responsible for gender equality issues in their respective work units, coordinated as a team by the policy unit.
The organization’s programme:
Effective gender mainstreaming strategy therefore includes at least the following programming elements.
First, Project management that is technically proficient, aware of the implications of gender differences for project outcomes, remains in touch with the constituency, and establishes positive incentive and accountability mechanisms to ensure consistent results is extremely important.
Second, an effective monitoring and reporting mechanisms capable of reflecting how far the project is contributing to greater gender equality.
Finally, Gender analysis that explores the national and international context in which the concerned communities are operating, clarifies the ways in which this context impacts differently on women and men and the implications of these differences for project activity.
However, hat might appear to be minor actions actually represent major life-changing moves for women and men, given the dynamics that existed before gender mainstreamed programmes. Given the traditional and financial constraints hat combine to keep women a safe distance from making the inconsequential decisions and choices, these seemingly small-step decisions are massive.
Gender mainstreaming outcomes and benefits:
Women are not newcomers to the working world as some may believe, but their role is changing, as are the socials values. Historically women’s work has been relegated to the home. But, it was not always so, ‘for most of human history, work and the rest of life were completely integratedâ€¦with the industrial revolution, the “workplace” moved out of the family, homeâ€¦the workplace became men’s domain; and women came to bear the responsibility of supporting the family.’ (Rao, Stuart, Kelleher.1999)
Today, women account for nearly fifty percent of the workforce but for less than 4 per cent of the nation’s top executives. Women managers are clustered into administrative and support functions. (Kaila.2005)
Gender mainstreaming can be associated with many benefits including: assisting in achieving better gender data collection and analysis, ensures economic security for both sexes, achieving equal value for paid work, achieving a gender balance and achieving equal participation of women and men the rights of women and men. (Rea 2007)
First, assists in achieving better gender data collection and analysis; this will inform the integration of a gender perspective in the development of all organizations’ policies, processes, systems and structures. It will also provide the gender analysis which is critical to the development of effective gender action measures to tackle specific gender inequalities
Second, ensures the economic security of both men and women, as it addresses the gender inequalities which lead to poverty.
Third, achieving equal value for paid work, equity, done by women and men; including the equitable sharing of work and family and caring responsibilities.
Fourth, achieving a gender balance, on all level of the organization.
Fifth, ensures the active and equal participation of women and men at all levels of organization.
Finally, promotes and protects the rights of women and men by increasing awareness of their different needs and potential to have the same opportunity to live a fulfilled life.
Never the less, Gender mainstreaming can be associated with many benefits including: Quality improvements enhance the effectiveness of the administration process, Enhance participation process, financial benefits and improve the organization’s image.
Limitations and restrictions on gender mainstreaming:
The limitations of gender mainstreaming are easy to solve, but their solutions are costly. Main limitations are identifying partner, commitment of senior management, fund raising, instruments and up- to date data on gender issues. (Taylor 1999).
First, to effective implementation of gender mainstreaming partners are requires, identifying them, raising their awareness of the importance of this concept and making them write reports
Second, commitment of senior managers is absolutely necessary. If senior managers pass on the message, support it and strengthen it, half the way is achieved. However, senior managers are generally only convinced to convey a message if their political superiors are committed to a cause.
Third, Gender mainstreaming is an investment in the overall quality of policy. The costs of this quality improvement should therefore be counted as regular policy costs. Staff, experts and budgets should be made available
Fourth, adequate instruments of measurements, manuals, monitoring procedures and evaluation procedures for gender mainstreaming should be tailored to the address the organization’s needs. This will need experts to perform them.
Fifth, in order to benefit from gender mainstreaming implementation, staff members should have up-to-date knowledge and awareness of gender issues. Hiring experts to keep monitoring the updated material about gender issues and presenting it to the staff can be the solution and may be costly.
Equality, which is the corner stone of democratic nations, successful organizations and a basic human right, are time and space dependent phenomena. At least three historical waves of approaches to equality between the sexes can be distinguished (Ress, 1998).
Through the strategy of gender mainstreaming, different realities of women and men are aware of and made clear, the observance of the gender perspective is an essential decision criterion for suitability and quality of the measure.
The gender mainstreaming process makes no institutional gender politics unnecessary, as shown by the present analysis indicates that women are disadvantaged in many areas yet. The instrument of women is therefore still need to be applied long! What is new is that the gender mainstreaming approach also includes the situation of the men in our society in the analysis.
A major obstacle to successful mainstreaming is the attitudes and cultures in our development organizations, which carry the baggage of their own quite traditional male cultures of work and power. These attitudes and cultures continue to be transferred in practice at home and in the field.
Finally, International Labor organization should strengthen its policy and programmes on gender equality and decent work, support gender sensitive policy formulation, work with governments and social partners on employment and job creation, strive to improve the understanding and application of the principle of equal remuneration for women and men for work of equal value.
Increase the involvement of men as partners:
Successful gender mainstreaming calls for a deeper involvement of men at all levels. It is also requires a greater sensitization of men to the larger issues at stake. Activist women point to the need for men for men to become involved in Men in Development and Men’s Empowerment program.
Work on Government policy change:
According to NGO Activists: “Government is supportive are words, they make very good pronouncementsâ€¦ yes, lip service, very good. Action is where we think there is a problem. We think that there is no political will; real political will is to be able to implement.”
Sensitize women in power:
Efforts must be also be made to deepen the sensitization of those few women in power and ensure their gender consciousness.
Network is critical in moving women from immediate community activities into broader regional and national areas of related concern. Networking also presents opportunities to bridge the gap between urban and rural women as well as divides of class, religion and age in order to build strong cohesive force.
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