The promotion of gender equality and women’s rights is not only a crucial goal in itself, as a matter of fundamental human rights and social justice, but is also a sine qua non for achieving all development goals. As a matter of fact gender equality is key to achieve the MDGs.
Gender denotes the social roles of women and men as opposed to their biological difference. Access to socially valued and valuable resources is unequal, and is normally biased in favour of men. Women generally have less access than men to training, land, secure employment and leisure, as well as to the political process. Already in 1979, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted by the UN General Assembly defined what constitutes discrimination against women and set up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. Unfortunately such discrimination still widely persists.
Gender mainstreaming is a strategy aimed at achieving gender equality. The EC Toolkit on Mainstreaming Gender Equality in EC Development Cooperation (2004) defined that in order to mainstream gender equality in development cooperation programmes and related activities the following steps are essential:
- Statistics disaggregated by sex and qualitative information on the situation of women and men must be obtained for the population in question. This information is required not only at project/programme beneficiary level, but also at the macro and meso levels.
- A gender analysis should be conducted with regard to the gendered division of labour, access to and control over material and non-material resources, the legal basis for gender equality/inequality; political commitments with respect to gender equality; and the culture, attitudes and stereotypes which affect all preceding issues. Gender analysis should be conducted at the micro, meso- and macro-levels.
- Gender analysis of a programme or project concept should reveal whether gender equality objectives are articulated in the initial idea, whether or not the planned activity will contribute to or challenge existing inequalities, and whether there are any gender issues that have not been addressed.
- During the identification and formulation phases, gender analysis contributes to the identification of entry points for actions that will be needed in order to meet gender equality objectives.
- A gender-sensitive monitoring and evaluation system should also be in place from the design phase onwards, including the establishment of indicators to measure the extent to which gender equality objectives are met and changes in gender relations achieved.
Without identifying such differences, it is not possible to devise policies that meet the specific needs of women and men and address existing inequalities.
The development of gender planning techniques such as the use of gender-disaggregated statistics and task analysis in which female and male tasks are defined, responds to the need to allow for gender differences in the planning and implementation of programmes and projects.
Gender planning methodology identifies several roles of women as household and domestic managers; economic producers (e.g. in farming); and community leaders. It also identifies two crucial distinctions in gender interventions: projects which address women’s needs, by improving existing work methods and relieving their domestic and farming burdens; and projects which address such strategic needs as equality with men, improved status and access to resources.
Gender analysis and the PSIA/ PIA /SIA (see above) should seek to identify the allocation of tasks to women and men, and to measure time and burdens in relation to women’s and men’s activities, and to calculate the likely benefits and losses to both women and men.