Hello everyone today I have come with another topic on important concepts underlying gender mainstreaming.
The concept of gender needs to be understood clearly as a cross-cutting socio-cultural variable. It
is an overarching variable in the sense that gender can also be applied to all other cross-cutting variables
such as race, class, age, ethnic group, etc. Gender systems are established in different socio-cultural
contexts which determine what is expected, allowed and valued in a woman/man and girl/boy in these
specific contexts. Gender roles are learned through socialization processes; they are not fixed but are
changeable. Gender systems are institutionalized through education systems, political and economic
systems, legislation, and culture and traditions. In utilizing a gender approach the focus is not on
individual women and men but on the system which determines gender roles / responsibilities, access to
and control over resources, and decision-making potentials.
It is also important to emphasize that the concept of gender is not interchangeable with women.
Gender refers to both women and men, and the relations between them. Promotion of gender equality
should concern and engage men as well as women. In recent years there has been a much stronger direct
focus on men in research on gender perspectives. There are three main approaches taken in the increased
focus on men. Firstly, the need to identify men as allies for gender equality and involve them more
actively in this work. Secondly, the recognition that gender equality is not possible unless men change
their attitudes and behaviour in many areas, for example in relation to reproductive rights and health. And
thirdly, that gender systems in place in many contexts are negative for men as well as for women –
creating unrealistic demands on men and requiring men to behave in narrowly defined ways.
A considerable amount of interesting research is being undertaken, by both women and men, on male
identities and masculinity. The increased focus on men will have significant impact on future strategies
for working with gender perspectives in development.
Gender equity denotes an element of interpretation of social justice, usually based on tradition, custom,
religion or culture, which is most often to the detriment to women. Such use of equity in relation to the
advancement of women is unacceptable. During the Beijing conference in 1995 it was agreed that the
term equality would be utilized. Gender Equality means that the rights, responsibilities and opportunities
of individuals will not depend on whether they are born male or female. Equality does not mean “ the
same as” – promotion of gender equality does not mean than women and men will become the same.
Equality between women and men has both a quantitative and a qualitative aspect. The quantitative aspect
refers to the desire to achieve equitable representation of women – increasing balance and parity, while
the quantitative aspect refers to achieving equitable influence on establishing development priorities and
outcomes for women and men. Equality involves ensuring that the perceptions, interests, needs and
priorities of women and men (which can be very different because of the differing roles and
responsibilities of women and men) will be given equal weight in planning and decision-making.
There is a dual rationale for promoting gender equality. Firstly, that equality between women and
men – equal rights, opportunities and responsibilities – is a matter of human rights and social justice. And
secondly, that greater equality between women and men is also a precondition for (and effective indicator
of) sustainable people-centred development. The perceptions, interests, needs and priorities of both
women and men must be taken into consideration not only as a matter of social justice but because they
are necessary to enrich development processes.
Gender mainstreaming is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. The calls for increased
gender mainstreaming in the Economic and Social Council (ESCSOC) Agreed Conclusions (1997/2) are
not for increased gender balance within the United Nations but for increased attention to gender
perspectives and the goal of gender equality in the work of the United Nations. Gender mainstreamingdoes not entail developing separate women’s projects within work programmes, or even women’s
components within existing activities in the work programmes. It requires that attention is given to gender
perspectives as an integral part of all activities across all programmes. This involves making gender
perspectives – what women and men do and the resources and decision-making processes they have
access to – more central to all policy development, research, advocacy, development, implementation and
monitoring of norms and standards, and planning, implementation and monitoring of projects.
It is important to see the linkages between gender mainstreaming in the substantive work of the
United Nations and the promotion of equal opportunities and gender balance within the United Nations
itself. Organizational culture and organizational values are important in terms of creating work
environments which are conducive to gender mainstreaming. Gender mainstreaming is easiest to
implement in organizational environments which support approaches such as multi-disciplinary focuses,
teamwork, creative thinking, flexibility and risk-taking.
Gender mainstreaming was established as an intergovernmental mandate in the Beijing
Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995, and again in the ECOSOC Agreed Conclusions in 1997.
The mandate for gender mainstreaming was considerably strengthened in the outcome of the General
Assembly special session to follow-up the Beijing Conference (June 2000). Gender mainstreaming is not
being imposed on governments by the United Nations. Member states have been involved in the
intergovernmental discussions on gender mainstreaming since the mid 1990s and have, in consensus,
adopted mainstreaming as an important global strategy for promoting gender equality.
The 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, for example,
legislation, policy development, research and projects/programmes on the ground. Women-specific
projects continue to play an important role in promoting gender equality. They are still needed because
gender equality has not yet been attained and gender mainstreaming processes are not well developed.
Targeted initiatives focusing specifically on women or the promotion of gender equality are important for
reducing existing disparities, serving as a catalyst for promotion of gender equality and creating a
constituency for changing the mainstream. Women-specific initiatives can create an empowering space
for women and act as an important incubator for ideas and strategies than can be transferred to
mainstream interventions. Initiatives focused on men support promotion of gender equality by developing
male allies. It is crucial to understand that these two strategies – gender mainstreaming and women´s
empowerment – are in no way in competition with each other. The endorsement of gender mainstreaming
within an organization does not imply that targeted activities are no longer needed. The two strategies are
complementary in a very real sense as gender mainstreaming must be carried out in a manner which is
empowering for women.
4.Empowerment of women
The empowerment of women concerns women gaining power and control over their own lives. It
involves awareness-raising, building self-confidence, expansion of choices, increased access to and
control over resources and actions to transform the structures and institutions which reinforce and
perpetuate gender discrimination and inequality. The process of empowerment is as important as the goal.
Empowerment comes from within; women empower themselves. Inputs to promote the empowerment of
women should facilitate women’s articulation of their needs and priorities and a more active role in
promoting these interests and needs. Empowerment of women cannot be achieved in a vacuum; men must
be brought along in the process of change. Empowerment should not be seen as a zero-sum game where
gains for women automatically imply losses for men. Increasing women’s power in empowerment
strategies does not refer to power over, or controlling forms of power, but rather to alternative forms of
power: power to; power with and power from within which focus on utilizing individual and collective
strengths to work towards common goals without coercion or domination.
The next thing I want to talk about is the various principles of gender mainstreaming and they are:
1. Gender-sensitive language.
- Texts referring to or addressing both women and men must make women and men equally visible. This applies to, amongst others, forms, documents, telephone directories, texts on the intranet and the internet, advertising for events, folders, posters and films.
- Attention must also be paid to a gender-sensitive choice of images when preparing public relations material.
2. Gender-specific data collection and analysis.
- Data must be collected, analysed and presented by gender. Social dimensions, such as age, ethnicity, income and level of education should also be reflected where possible.
- Gender-specific analysis of the initial situation must provide the basis for all decisions.
3. Women and men are equally involved in decision making.
- There are binding targets for a balanced gender ratio at all levels of decision making.
- Measures and strategies geared towards a balanced gender ratio must be taken at all levels of decision making.
- This is also important when appointing working groups, project teams, commissions and advisory boards, as well as when organising events, e.g. when selecting speakers.
- Workplaces must be structurally gendered and barrier free where possible (e.g. gendered signage, sufficient lighting, avoiding potentially frightening situations as in poorly accessible basement archives, access without steps, social rooms for different occupations).
4. Equal treatment is integrated into steering processes.
Steering instruments include quality management and gender budgeting, amongst others. It is important to note that:
- Paying attention to the different circumstances of women and men enhances
- the success rate,
- effectiveness and
- maximum utilisation of staff and funds.
- All targets related to people are defined in terms of full equality and the targets attained are therefore presented by gender.
- Controlling routine as a matter of course includes gender-specific evaluation of results and a systematic steering of the gender ratio, in other words, the development and implementation of (new and adapted) targets, strategies and measures
- Thank you.
- Paying attention to the different circumstances of women and men enhances