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A gateway for capacity development ISSUE 40 | AUGUST 2010 Local government for gender equality FEATURE PRACTICE PRACTICE Preserve status quo or promote gender Legitimacy enhances capacity A magic bullet for gender equality? equality? Sohela Nazneen and Sakiba Tasneem ask Rebecca Smith asks whether successful Helen O’Connell argues that local whether affirmative action and training decentralisation can make government government is an effective arena for programmes in Bangladesh have given more accessible, accountable and promoting gender equality and respecting women sufficient gains in legitimacy responsive to women women’s human rights POLICY GUEST COLUMN INTERVIEW Capacity for effective participation A matter of political will To know is to be empowered Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay and colleagues Cecilia Kinuthia-Njenga argues that local Celia Reyes believes that if you want to suggest that several issues need to be authorities can play a vital role in effectively tackle gender inequality, you addressed before affirmative action can addressing gender inequality and building need to measure its indicators and identify increase women’s participation as political the capacities of women by involving them its underlying causes representatives in local decision making and planning MAILBOX Letters to the Editorial Board Issue 39 of Capacity.org, ‘Behaviour and Facilitating Change’, evoked ‘being’ in circles of development cooperation. I fully agree with you that some enthusiastic responses from practitioners and scholars who are capacity development (CD) practitioners ought to pay more attention to working on similar or related theses. ‘the deeper layers of who they are ... to their inner state of being’. The quality of our ‘doing’ depends on the quality of our ‘being’. In foreign aid, the addiction to ‘doing’ is indeed rampant and causes great harm. Communication common sense As a multi-disciplinary agronomist, I have always tried to combine the natural and social sciences in my work, as small farmers in sub-Saharan We took special note of your introduction to the May 2010 issue of Africa inevitably do in daily practice. But on top of that, I have been Capacity.org dedicated to behaviour and facilitating change. We are practicing Transcendental Meditation since 1972 as a way to stay practitioners in the communication field, so this issue was of particular grounded and ‘unfold’ capacities from within. You ask whether the interest to us. We noted several references that are particularly behaviour of exceptional CD practitioners is a technique that can be important to us: acquired through training. If the Self is the layer that spans ‘doing’ and • the central role that champions play in facilitating change by ‘doing’ ‘being’, then it is necessary to align body, mind (or intellect) and spirit and ‘being’ (namely the articles by Ingrid Richter and by Mohan in order to develop excellent behaviour. The level of the spirit (pure Dhamorathan); being) has not received enough attention yet in development activities. • the emphasis on listening and understanding contexts (as explained In my view, the ability to access the deeper layers of our being can be by Leng Chhay from Cambodia, and also the column by Jenny systematically trained – through meditation techniques, for example. Pearson); In 1998 I completed my PhD thesis, in which I attempted to put the • the length of time it takes to gain trust and learn to become immersed potential contribution of spirituality (gaining access to the deeper levels in a local situation (Jan Morgan’s piece on AusAID in Papua New of being) in a scientific context. And for those interested in spirituality in Guinea); and our field of work, I recently explored this subject in more detail in my • the danger of importing solutions when every situation is different book, Civic Driven Change through Self-Empowerment. (contribution by Doug Reeler and Sue Soal). For a long time, those of us who belong to the cult of communication Toon van Eijk practitioners have believed that good communication makes good firstname.lastname@example.org development. In broad terms, when we say ‘good communication’ we are talking about participatory communication. Participatory communication emphasises ‘listening’, while mainstream communication focuses on ‘telling’. We think of participatory communication as something that shapes the very nature of development. We think of conventional communication as something that simply promotes the desired development outcome. Last autumn, we published the book Communication for Another Development: Listening before Telling (Zed Books, 2009). In this book, we reflect on our experience as consultants and trainers. So often we agreed to work under project conditions that were less than ideal. We have been blind to the conditions. We have been practicing in what we now refer to as the ‘grey zone’. Being realistic about what is possible helps us to assess reality and adjust our expectations and methodology to fit that reality. We think of this as communication common sense. We navigate in the grey zone using three coordinates: champions, an understanding of context and a match-up of the two with appropriate communication functions. By looking at champions and context, we can fit functions to the reality of the situation, and we can adjust our expectations and methodology. We illustrate this navigation with examples from our practice, and we celebrate the achievements of pioneers and current practitioners. We are pleased to see that we are not alone! Sincerely, Wendy Quarry email@example.com Ricardo Ramirez firstname.lastname@example.org Being over doing I am a tropical agronomist who has worked for more than 20 years in eastern and southern Africa. Recently I read with great interest Ingrid Richter’s article, ‘The unfolding practitioner’, in issue 39 of Capacity.org. Her article had the apt subtitle: ‘Capacity development from within’. It’s rare to hear people talk about the difference between ‘doing’ and 2 Capacity.org Issue 40 | August 2010 EDITORIAL CONTENTS Local government for gender equality Despite signs of progress in some regions and affirmative action – by reserving a certain MAILBOX 2 countries, the overall pattern of gender percentage of council seats for women. Letters to the Editorial Board inequality remains unchanged. In most Whether affirmative action really increases countries women work more hours than men women’s influence in policy making depends but earn less. This is because they often on the way it is institutionalised. Maitrayee EDITORIAL 3 perform unpaid work and are over- Mukhopadhyay, Elsbet Lodenstein and Evelien Local government for gender equality represented in lower income groups. To make Kamminga explain that one cannot expect Heinz Greijn matters worse, they often earn less than men much from affirmative action at the local level for identical work. In rural areas few women if the actual powers remain centralised, own land, which reduces their access to especially on budget issues. Helen O’Connell FEATURE 4 income from agricultural produce. And cultural also points out that decentralisation often Preserve status quo or promote gender factors contribute to girls being discriminated involves a devolution of responsibilities, while equality? against when they want to go to school, which decisions regarding resources stay firmly in the Helen O’Connell diminishes their career opportunities. hands of central government. In many cultures, power is wielded by men, Sohela Nazneen and Sakiba Tasneem argue and women enjoy far less freedom, even that affirmative action has little effect if women RESOURCES 7 within their own households. Men often abuse are nominated – as opposed to being elected this power. In 2005, the World Health – to their seats. Nominated women lack a Organization published its Multi-country Study constituency, and hence legitimacy. This makes INTERVIEW 8 on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence them far less powerful than elected (male) To know is to be empowered against Women. It focuses on 24,000 women councillors. In Bangladesh, affirmative action Sylvia Bergh talks to Celia Reyes in 10 countries and reveals that – depending really started making an impact when women on the country – between 15% and 71% of had to be elected to their seats. But even in this PRACTICE 10 women aged 19-49 are physically or sexually case, cultural issues, such as the gender abused by intimate partners. division of labour, put women at a Legitimacy enhances capacity Sohela Nazneen and Sakiba Tasneem Women are under-represented in political disadvantage in their efforts to gain political office due to a lack of income, education and office. Not surprisingly then, the majority of freedom, not to mention gender divisions of elected leaders in Bangladesh, and in most POLICY 12 labour. Male-dominated leadership often lacks other countries, are still men. Capacity for effective participation the political will to address gender inequality, As long as women have not acquired a Evelien Kamminga, Elsbet Lodenstein, making it a vicious circle that is difficult to break. critical mass of powerful positions, male Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay Gender inequality in developing countries is leaders need to become gender sensitive. They one of the key factors hampering wealth have to learn to understand and appreciate creation, poverty reduction and the attainment situations from the perspective of the opposite PRACTICE 14 of the Millennium Development Goals. While sex. They need to be aware of and recognise A magic bullet for gender equality? international policy has made some progress the differences, inequalities and specific needs Rebecca Smith towards addressing gender inequality, it needs of women and men. And they have to act on to be converted into concrete changes on the this awareness. ground, especially at the local level. In the web edition of this issue, Susan GUEST COLUMN 16 In this issue of Capacity.org, we look at the Tolmay and Abigail Jacobs-Williams highlight A matter of political will capacities that local governments need to a wonderful example of a men’s organisation Cecilia Kinuthia-Njenga address gender inequalities effectively. We in Zimbabwe seeking to popularise men’s look specifically at the issue of involvement in creating gender equality and decentralisation, which increases the power of addressing issues related to gender violence. local governments and, by extension, their Evidence of gender inequality is a powerful capacity to boost gender equality. resource for generating gender sensitivity and The feature article by Helen O’Connell essential for developing effective gender provides a general overview of the capacities policies. Monitoring mechanisms and gender local governments have or need to effectively analytical tools are therefore core capacities promote gender equality. She also explores to that local governments need to acquire. Celia what extent decentralisation can enhance this Reyes explains how a Community-Based capacity. Rebecca Smith reports on the Monitoring System, in tandem with Gender findings of an IDRC research programme Responsive Budgeting, is now used by three regarding the impact of decentralisation quarters of the provinces in the Philippines, policies and women’s participation in local generating a wealth of information and government on women’s rights and access to insights regarding the situation of women and public services. what can be done to improve their plight. This As Cecilia Kinuthia-Njenga points out in the is a tremendous achievement, which needs to guest column, it all starts with leadership and be widely replicated. political will. Probably the best way to mobilise Cover photo political will to address gender inequality is to Heinz Greijn Women played a very visible role in the 2008 get as many women as possible in powerful email@example.com elections in Ghana. positions. One way of doing this is through Editor-in-Chief Alamy / Olivier Asselin www.capacity.org 3 FEATURE High hopes for local government Preserve status quo or promote gender equality? Women’s rights activists and gender and development practitioners have high hopes for local government as an arena for promoting gender equality and respecting women’s human rights. However, gender equality can only be achieved through radical structural change. Development, Governance, Development and essential to the emergence of a conducive Democratic Politics, also places new environment for local government to emphasis on local government. Meanwhile, flourish. The challenges and opportunities Helen O’Connell decentralisation processes are taking place in differ in each locality. These are explored in firstname.lastname@example.org numerous countries in Africa, Latin America a little more detail below, drawing on the Independent consultant and Asia. experience of One World Action, a UK-based The extent to which decentralisation NGO, where I worked until April 2009. contributes to increased capacities of local Local government would benefit by governments should not be overstated. Local adopting a triple-track approach to L ocal government, it is hoped, will provide women from the most marginalised communities with the chance to engage government codes governing decentralisation are more likely to decentralise responsibilities than power and promoting gender equality and protecting and respecting women’s human rights. First, it would need to thoroughly integrate gender politically – to vote, to lobby and to stand resources. Usually, little power is devolved analysis into all its political, organisational for election. It is perhaps easier for women’s from central government and few financial and administrative functions. Second, it and community-based organisations to resources are transferred. Furthermore, local should provide political and practical influence local government than national government can be a highly politicised, support to women’s organisations and government. In theory at least, local contested and conflict-prone site. Local movements and establish dialogue with government is in the front line of public powerful elites, who controlled the locality them. And third, it should support specific service delivery, providing education, health through patronage and fear before strategic initiatives with men on gender and care, transport, water and sanitation, decentralisation, usually continue to hold masculinity issues. electricity and security. It is also a stimulator sway afterwards until challenged by Implementing meaningful gender of local economic development. These are all democratically elected local councillors and integration (or mainstreaming) is an vitally important for gender equality. The civil society. enormous challenge. The 2008 UN-HABITAT key questions are: which capacities do local Nevertheless, evidence from the report, Gender Mainstreaming in Local governments have or need to effectively Philippines (see the interview with Celia Authorities: Best Practices, provides useful promote gender equality, and does Reyes on pages 8-9) and Honduras (see information on how to overcome this decentralisation enhance this capacity? Rebecca Smith’s article on pages 14-15) challenge. It points out that successful suggests that local government – providing gender mainstreaming requires senior Policy focus on local government it is democratic and has adequate staff, leadership, clear analysis, strong policy For too long, bilateral and multilateral funding and authority – could provide commitments with corresponding donors neglected to support the building of gender-responsive public services, including organisational structures and resources, democratic local governance, concentrating policing and social support. It can serve as a gender-skilled staff, training and monitoring. instead on the central level. Many large training ground for national-level democracy In other words, it is a long-term political international NGOs set up parallel service as well, if public political awareness project. delivery mechanisms, which further generated at the local level can stimulate Furthermore, formal state institutions at weakened any existing local authority. greater interest in national politics. This the local level need capacity in a number of But local government can play a key role would encourage women who are successful linked administrative and political areas to in reducing poverty, promoting greater local politicians to stand for national fulfil their role as duty bearer and perform equality and building inclusive societies – elections. their core functions in effective and and donor policy focus is shifting. gender-responsive ways. International agencies working in countries Effective local government affected by conflict are refocusing on the Decentralisation has to be accompanied by Building the capacity of local government local level. This is in line with the OECD’s mobilisation and advocacy if it is to administration Principles for Good International effectively establish gender equality and The administrative aspects of local Engagement in Fragile States and Situations, equity. It needs to rally the support and governance are fundamental to its published in 2007, which stresses the expertise of a range of actors for this, effectiveness and accountability in general, importance of focusing on state building at including women’s organisations, political and gender responsiveness in particular. central and local levels. A 2007 policy paper parties, local councillors and the media. The Local government needs administrative and from the UK Department for International political will of national government is also organisational competence and human and 4 Capacity.org Issue 40 | August 2010 Alamy / William Meyer Pakistan’s Progressive Women’s Association demands equal political rights. financial resources to deliver on the diverse In El Salvador, for example, a women’s and structures is critical. Building capacity expectations of women and men for security, movement association and One World Action into the political structure of local access to justice, public services, partner called Las Melidas trained women government is essential for strengthening participation and economic well-being. councillors from 11 municipalities how to administrative competence. More inclusive Local councillors and officials need to implement gender equity policies and embed political decision making creates greater develop gender expertise and capacity, gender equity in the councils. The Children’s legitimacy and accountability for raising especially in key local administration units Dignity Forum in Tanzania has created a local revenues. such as planning, budgeting and service local network comprising local government Many feminist and women’s organisations delivery. Local governments need to know representatives, teachers, health workers and in the global South focus on strengthening how to establish meaningful consultation traditional leaders that addresses the problem the political participation of women from mechanisms to gather information from a of child marriage and female genital diverse social and cultural backgrounds. The wide range of women at the community mutilation. literature unanimously agrees that level on their gender-specific needs and Another example is the Micro Impacts of proportional representation in electoral interests. Local government staff need the Macroeconomic Adjustment Policies systems, together with some form of quota, skills to perform gender-sensitive analyses in (MIMAP) project in the Philippines. This is the ‘best-fit combination’. While order to understand the information they project, which enlisted researchers from two proportional representation systems do not collect and devise policy, programmes and higher education institutes, developed the guarantee the representation of women and budget plans accordingly. Community-Based Monitoring System marginalised communities, they do facilitate It is important when developing combined with a Gender Responsive it because they create a closer alignment competencies in gender analysis to train Budgeting initiative. between votes cast and seats won. people to recognise gender power imbalances. International donors and NGOs also have Political parties, as the main gatekeepers These imbalances could be present in areas a major role to play in supporting local of women’s political participation, must be such as informal decision making, access to government to develop these capacities engaged formally to seek their compliance justice and other services, and access to land through training programmes, funding with quotas, since they frequently ignore and other resources. In short, it is vital to recruitment and employment (or quotas in the heat of election contests. identify the social, economic and political secondment) of skilled staff, research Electoral commissions need the power, barriers to gender equality. capacity, study tours and other forms of capacity and will to monitor the It is also important to comprehend national, regional or international learning implementation of quotas and to impose women’s diverse experiences of citizenship exchanges. sanctions for non-compliance. Although and the factors that determine women’s quotas are not without problems – for ability to be and to act as citizens. And it is Inclusive local government politics example, they can brand and isolate women essential to develop proficiency in gender- Political willingness is a primary capacity, within political structures as ‘second-class’ responsive budgeting, and gathering and and hence the development of inclusive – they are essential for breaking through the analysing sex-disaggregated data. political decision-making processes, systems barriers blocking women’s participation. www.capacity.org 5 FEATURE Without this, politics will be open only to women to voice their needs, claim their privileged women. Hence, we have to rights and engage politically. These recognise that efforts at the local organisations can also lobby for changes in government level to make progress towards the law to respect women’s human rights, gender equality have to be accompanied by monitor the implementation of legislation national policies on women’s rights, in areas and policy, stimulate public debate, and such as family law, domestic violence, liaise locally, nationally and internationally inheritance, political parties, education and with other women’s organisations to employment. strengthen their network. Women’s organisations are leading the Political violence against women way in raising awareness about women’s Violence, or the threat of violence, against interests and rights, and they are mobilising women is an intractable barrier to women’s women to raise their voices and engage in political participation at local and national consultation and electoral processes. If levels. Violence, or the threat of violence, women’s organisations are well rooted in perpetrated by partners, community leaders, marginalised communities, they can the police, politicians or the media can encourage disabled women, women living dissuade women from standing as with HIV/Aids and women from ethnic HH / Roel Burgler candidates in the first place. It will also minority communities to participate in prevent elected women from carrying out informal and formal local politics, and their political responsibilities and functions support elected women. In Malawi and properly and deter women from standing for Zambia, for example, women’s organisations re-election. are working to increase the political Poster proclaiming everyone’s right to To date, there has been little research on participation of poor and marginalised participate in democracy (Guatemala, 2008). the incidence and impact of violence against women and reach the Africa Union target of women in political life, but there is ample 50% women’s representation. anecdotal evidence. In my view, the four The women’s movement in Central Women candidates need support – in oft-cited barriers to women’s political America is pressing for respect for secular addition to political inclusion – in the form participation – culture, confidence, cash and state institutions and laws in order to of awareness raising, confidence building caring responsibilities – conceal the actual guarantee women’s rights. They are doing and practical assistance. In many countries, experience or threat of violence that restricts this by stimulating public debate through the presence of women in political structures women to the private sphere. public protest and the use of the media. makes it clear that participation does not However, research conducted by the Women’s organisations are in a good translate automatically into gender- Association of Women Councillors of position to provide advice and expertise for responsive policy making. Once elected, Bolivia (ACOBOL), in alliance with women training the political and administrative women local councillors need capacity parliamentarians and civil society groups, arms of local government, and for building in gender-responsive policy documented cases of violence against complying with international human rights development, policy and budget analysis, women in the five-year period from 2000 to standards. organising and understanding political 2005. The research found that of the 155 A good example is the Women’s Legal procedures and much more. cases recorded, around 40 were cases of Aid Centre in Tanzania. It is working closely Strong links with women’s organisations physical, emotional or sexual violence, 56 with local government (in areas where and movements in the community are vital were threats and in 27 cases women refugee camps are based) to train them to to local governments if they are to councillors were obstructed from carrying use a variety of international instruments successfully promote a gender equality and out their official work. ACOBOL believes and domestic laws to protect the rights of women’s rights agenda. The forging of that under-reporting is responsible for women refugees. Furthermore, women’s cross-party alliances can greatly strengthen concealing the real figure, which is likely to organisations can engage in local, national respect for women’s civil and political be about four times higher. and international networking to build rights. As Felicity Manson-Visram writes in ACOBOL has worked with others to press strong women’s movements at all levels. her unpublished report for One World for a legal definition of political violence. A Women’s organisations and movements Action, Central American Women Exercising law against gender-based political violence need support to build their own capacities their Political Rights, ‘support to such was adopted by the Bolivian chamber of cross-party political networks is critical in deputies in 2006, but it still needs approval countries where politics is severely polarized from the senate. Passing a law is just the and where the women’s agenda is easily first step in a long battle to challenge the Consolidating strengths forgotten’. Cross-party alliances are not impunity enjoyed by those who perpetuate possible in all contexts, and are, of course, systems that commit political violence The Central American Network for Gender very unpopular with political parties. against women. ACOBOL is calling for a Equality in Local Development brings together A 2009 One World Action report, public body with the authority to act on six Central American women’s organisations. Women’s Political Participation in the instances of violence. The association is Their members include women local councillors Philippines, highlights the importance of working with municipal authorities and and mayors, women from cross-party groups, moving beyond numbers, but also moving political leaders to seek formal commitments and women from different countries, such as El beyond politics. The report argues that on gender equity and a violence-free Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. important questions like leadership and political culture. The network has been operating since 2008 to decision making cannot be addressed simply increase and strengthen the political participation by enabling women to vote and hold Building a robust civil society of marginalised women in rural and urban political office. Rather, the report suggests, Women’s organisations and movements can areas, to press for legislative and policy reform ‘Substantive changes leading to women’s impact the development of inclusive, favourable to women’s political participation, empowerment in the areas of economics, democratic and accountable local including electoral reform, and to strengthen the culture, and even at a personal or family governments at many levels. They can help political voice of women’s organisations. level, must also take place’. raise awareness on rights and mobilise 6 Capacity.org Issue 40 | August 2010 programme was implemented by the Institute in Sierra Leone, part of a UNDP-funded Training journalists in Sierra Leone of Politics and Governance (IPG) in the programme, demonstrates what can be Philippines with partners in seven of the achieved (see box). Following six months of consultation to ascertain country’s municipalities. The partners, in The media’s role can help change attitudes journalists’ needs, UNDP funded a two-day turn, worked with over 100 local and raise awareness, but local government is training and consultation workshop for 40 organisations (including organisations of still a key player in promoting gender carefully selected journalists from across the urban poor women). The 1991 Local equality and respect for women’s human country. The workshop covered the journalists’ Government Code – at least on paper – gave rights. International development role and mandate and how they report local government 40% of internal revenue cooperation bodies need to adopt a coherent sexual- and gender-based violence, with the and the power to raise taxes and borrow and strategic approach to help local aim of building their capacity to report and money. It also acknowledged the crucial role government fulfil this role, one that links publicise cases in a professional, balanced and played by civil society. local and national democracy building to sensitive manner, and become participants in IPG’s programme enabled previously capacity building in local and national the campaign against gender-based violence. excluded women to enter politics through political processes and institutions, and that Media practitioners provided the training. The community organisation and the promotion establishes support structures for women’s production of a journalists’ handbook is in the of inclusive political participation. It organisations and movements. There is much pipeline, which will contain guidelines on how to developed the capacities of local and urban to be done – nothing short of a complete work with the police, the courts, government and governance actors in participatory district overhaul of political structures – but that civil society and outline the media’s watchdog and municipal planning to broaden the does not mean it cannot be done. < role. The intention is to use it for further training access of poor urban women and men to in different regions. equitable and gender-responsive decision making and service delivery. Further Reading • International IDEA (2005) Women in Parliament: Beyond Establish support structures Numbers. Revised edition. www.idea.int/publications/wip2/ in some key areas in order to be effective. The media, if free and gender aware, can • OECD (2007) Principles for Good International Engagement in These areas include organisational and play a huge role in informing public opinion, Fragile States and Situations. management skills, technical expertise, stimulating public debate on constitutional • Santos-Maranan, A.F., Parreño, N.E. and Fabros, A. (2009) analytical skills and research. It entails and policy matters, such as appropriate Women’s Political Participation in the Philippines: Conversations, support in monitoring and developing policing, and in scrutinising and holding to Reflections and Recommendations. One World Action. gender-sensitive indicators for scrutinizing account local governance institutions. www.oneworldaction.org local government, security and other public Gender awareness will enable it to play a • UK Department for International Development (2007) services, and building local, national and critical public education role in debunking Governance, Development and Democratic Politics. international networks. gender stereotypes, and creating a conducive www.dfid.gov.uk/pubs/files/governance.pdf The need to build the capacity of policy environment for gender equality and • UN-HABTIAT (2008) Gender Mainstreaming in Local Authorities: communities and their leaders, especially women’s rights. Best Practices. www.unhabitat.org women, to engage with local government In reality, the media in many countries bodies was one of the lessons that emerged have little capacity and few resources, and from a three-year democratic urban are hampered by restrictions to press Links governance programme in 2006-09. The freedom. A training initiative for journalists • UNDP trains 25 key journalists: www.sl.undp.org PUBLICATIONS This section offers a selection of publications related to capacity development. A more extensive list can be found at www.capacity.org. Gender Equality for Smarter Cities: been realised. The penultimate mainstreaming was defined as Indonesia is making steady Challenges and Progress section devotes special attention ‘the process of assessing the progress towards achieving the UN-HABITAT, 2010 to building capacity for good implications for women and men Millennium Development Goals. governance. of any planned action, including This report about research www.unhabitat.org/pmss legislation, policies and conducted on the Indonesian programmes ... and a strategy for experience of gender-responsive Gender Mainstreaming in Local making women’s as well as men’s capacity development at the local Governments: Best Practices concerns and experiences an level provides insights into what UN-HABITAT, 2008 integral dimension of the design, has worked, what hasn’t and implementation, monitoring and why. The report concludes with evaluation of policies and lessons learned and programmes in all political, recommendations. economic and social spheres ... www.capacityisdevelopment.org/un.html The ultimate goal is to achieve Local governments can make a gender equality’. This UN- difference to the lives of women in HABITAT publication explains how a variety of areas, including to apply gender mainstreaming in access to land, housing, water local governments. and sanitation, and security. This www.unhabitat.org/pmss publication describes the challenges local governments At the 2006 substantive session of Assessing Gender Responsive Local face, as well as a number of the United Nations Economic and Capacity Development in Indonesia promising achievements that have Social Council, gender UNDP, 2009 www.capacity.org 7 INTERVIEW Local Philippine governments tackle gender inequality To know is to be empowered If you want to effectively tackle gender inequality, you need to measure its indicators and identify its underlying causes. Putting local governments in the know is half the battle. Philippines in 2000. It was initially a a 5% allocation of the total local research initiative funded by IDRC, but local government budget for Gender and governments now pay for the Development (GAD) was in place before the implementation of the system. CBMS was CBMS-GRB initiative was launched. But we part of a project looking at the micro- found that neither local governments nor the Celia M. Reyes impacts of macro-level adjustment policies. national government really knew how to use email@example.com It was difficult, however, to trace the impact this budget efficiently. I think the 5% budget Philippine Institute for Development Studies and Angelo of these macro-level policies at the local increased the demand for the CBMS-GRB King Institute for Economic and Business Studies of De level due to the absence of disaggregated programme by local governments, because La Salle University, Manila, Philippines information. So we needed to put in place a now they had the information to plan monitoring system that would allow us to programmes that could be classified under capture the impact at the household and the 5% budget. Of course, in the Philippines even at the individual level. we view the 5% GAD budget as just a tool to C elia Reyes is senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, and is affiliated with the Angelo That is how CBMS came about. It was also very opportune because the Local Government Code was adopted and ensure that gender concerns are mainstreamed, also in the remaining 95% of the budget. King Institute for Economic and Business implemented in 1991. This resulted in a Studies at De La Salle University in Manila, substantial push for decentralisation and a What factors contributed to the scaling up Philippines. One of her major research significant demand for information that of the programme? interests is the impact of policies and could be used by local governments. The Department of the Interior and Local programmes on poverty and equity. She Initially, CBMS was not gender- Government (DILG) has released several directed the Micro Impacts of disaggregated, but we noticed during policy statements in support of CBMS. It has Macroeconomic Adjustment Policies focus-group discussions that there were been implemented in about 59 of the (MIMAP) project in the Philippines, differences in school attendance rates, for country’s 80 provinces and is still on the supported by the International Development instance. We found that more girls attended rise. We are quite surprised at this Research Centre (IDRC) in Canada. school than boys in some communities exponential growth. During that project, she and her colleagues because the boys were asked to work to It is striking to note that the provinces developed the Community-Based Monitoring augment the family income. But there were fund the implementation themselves. System (CBMS), which is an organised way also villages where girls did not attend Together with us, DILG provides free of collecting information at the local level. school because they were asked to stay at training, as well as the software and the This information can be used by local home and help with household chores. system. They also spend money on data government units, national government We also realised that in addition to collection and processing. I think the agencies, NGOs and civil society facilitating planning and budgeting at the demand for local information, which has not organisations for planning, programme local level, we could use CBMS to facilitate been addressed by the official statistical implementation and monitoring. gender-responsive budgeting as it provides a system, is one of the reasons why the CBMS helps to improve transparency and rich source of gender-disaggregated programme is in such demand. accountability in resource allocation. Its information. For example, we noticed that One feature that has attracted local proven effectiveness in improving labour-force participation by women was authorities to CBMS is the system’s maps. governance has led it to be actively very low in one community, mainly because Local chief executives respond better to promoted by the Philippine Department of they had to take care of the children. So they information in colour-coded maps than to Interior and Local Government. Now CBMS set up child-minding centres where women tables or figures. This has enabled them to is applied in three-quarters of the country’s could breastfeed in between their work, and appreciate the situation better and set the provinces. An integrated part of CBMS is this enabled more women to enter the labour right priorities. Red areas on a map alert Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB). force. them to pressing needs. The second feature is Capacity.org interviewed Celia Reyes to find Actually, many GRB initiatives around the a system that automatically generates out how CBMS-GRB has impacted gender world are being practiced at the national level indicators in a table format. This enables equality at the community level. following budget preparations. But people local chief executives to generate additional would benefit more from GRB if it were used information and cross-tabulate it. So it to formulate local government plans and doesn’t take much to learn how to use the Who was the driving force behind the budgets. We have managed to fully integrate system and generate the necessary integration of gender/GRB into the CBMS GRB into CBMS and local planning, saying information. programme, and what were the that every local development plan should be A third feature is that it’s good value for preconditions to make it possible? gender responsive. money. The programme can easily be funded We initially developed CBMS in 1994, but we CBMS automatically generates gender- by creating savings through improved really started scaling up CBMS in the disaggregated indicators. In the Philippines, planning, budgeting and targeting. Finally, 8 Capacity.org Issue 40 | August 2010 the system was designed so that it would not need new structural requirements. It has been incorporated into the Local Planning Unit, and the system is maintained even when there are changes in leadership. Have you been able to measure results in terms of gender outcomes? We do have baseline information in the form of CBMS data taken a few years ago and data taken now. We have not used the data to assess the impact on GRB. Rather, we have used it more to look at the impact of shocks such as the financial crisis and the price shock we had in 2008. We have not yet had a close look at the impact all the programmes have had in decreasing gender disparities, but this is something that could be done. We have looked at some specific programmes, such as water and sanitation, but we have not looked at the scholarship programme yet. But in general do you think that the GRB-CBMS programme has contributed to greater gender equality? Yes, we see this in focus-group discussions, which are part of the CBMS process. Members of the community try to explain the situation and come up with potential solutions. When they find differences in Reuters school participation rates, they now have a way of explaining the differences in their situation. For instance, why were girls ‘When they find differences in school participation rates, they now have a way of explaining them.’ dropping out of school? That can be explained by the fact that in some villages girls leave school to work as maids. So the refusal and cause him to accept it more work as maids, then they start to realize that problem can be discussed and solutions readily. there are in fact issues that need to be found to keep them in school longer. We I think in certain places village chiefs are addressed. I think there is a need for more now have cash-transfer programmes to attracted to certain projects that do not advocacy and more information campaigns prevent girls from leaving school so early. necessarily address the community’s needs. explaining these issues, to make it clear that Local governments actually formulate Basically, they just don’t know whether one more gender-disaggregated information can plans based on CBMS. If they find that there project is better suited than another. Since help solve these problems. is no access to water and sanitation, for there is more capacity at the provincial level, The difference between an ordinary CBMS example, they develop programmes to the governor can say ‘OK, what you need is and a GRB-CBMS is that we’re trying to address the problem. After some time, they not this project but this one, which will highlight the specific gender issues by may see access rise by 20%, which gives address your more pressing needs’. And since providing more gender-disaggregated women more time for things other than the information becomes more transparent, information. The challenge is to come up fetching water. This also positively affects the project implementation is monitored and with more context-specific indicators their health status. There will be fewer cases evaluated more effectively. because the issues could differ across of diarrhoea in the area, for example. The The CBMS process requires community locations, even within one country. In some impact on the water and sanitation situation involvement in terms of identifying priority areas, for example, male school attendance is is quite easy to identify. But school problems and potential solutions. When a low because they work as seasonal sugar attendance is also influenced by several community knows what it needs, it becomes cane workers, while in other areas the girls other factors, so it’s not possible to just look more empowered. It has relevant data to fall are the ones at a disadvantage. < at the numbers and pinpoint one reason. back on. For example, the community might be aware that 50% of its children are unable Interview by Sylvia I. Bergh, International Is it true that CBMS has helped governors to go to school, but that better roads would Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, the reject political favouritism? go far to solve this problem. In other words, Netherlands (firstname.lastname@example.org). Yes, the system of political favouritism used they are in a position to demand the services to make it difficult for governors to reject they really need. certain requests. In other words, they risked Links losing local political support at the next What are the main challenges in • Angelo King Institute for Economic and elections. But since they now have data for institutionalising and scaling up this Business Studies: all the barangays (villages), they can easily GRB-CBMS initiative? www.dlsu.edu.ph/research/centers/aki argue that a given barangay does not need I think the main difficulty initially is that • Community–Based Monitoring System another water and sanitation project since local governments are reluctant to admit that (CBMS) Network: there are plenty of others worse off. This their locality has a gender issue. So I guess www.dlsu.edu.ph/research/centers/ information might persuade a village chief the real challenge is to be more specific. If • Philippine Institute for Development that there is some basis for the governor’s you tell them that girls are leaving school to Studies: www.pids.gov.ph www.capacity.org 9 PRACTICE Local capacity building for women in Bangladesh Legitimacy enhances capacity Political culture in Bangladesh has been traditionally a male- dominated sphere. Has the introduction of affirmative action measures and the training of women politicians given them stronger voices and led to change on issues that are relevant for women? contested constituency seats, and around Empowerment: The Use of Reserved Seats in 12,000 women or more were directly elected Union Parishad as an Instrument for Sohela Nazneen to these reserved seats in the UP. The number Women’s Political Empowerment in email@example.com of women contesting general seats was low. Bangladesh, show that women UP members Associate professor, Department of International It affected how the communities viewed experience tough campaigns because they Relations, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, and these women representatives and created have to interact with an extensive group of research fellow, BRAC Development Institute, greater social legitimacy for women. The people. They also have to operate far from Bangladesh table below shows women’s participation in their political home bases, in places where the 1997 and 2003 elections in Bangladesh they have scant opportunity to interact with Sakiba Tasneem (the elections scheduled for 2008 were their constituency on a daily basis. firstname.lastname@example.org postponed for political reasons). There is a growing sense among women Research associate, BRAC Development Institute, Despite this provision of reservations, representatives, however, that as Bangladesh women face various structural and attitudinal representatives of a constituency, they have barriers that limit their capacity to act as a right to make claims about policy making. effective representatives. Gender division of This is further substantiated by the fact that labour places the burden of household work they were directly elected as representatives H istorically, women’s participation in formal representative politics in Bangladesh has been low. It is true that on women and limits women’s time and ability to participate in formal political activities. Restrictions on female mobility and of a larger constituency than male UP members. Bangladesh has elected only women prime notions about gender-segregated spaces affect Women’s post-election agenda ministers since its democratic transition in women’s access to and presence in the formal Besides strengthening women’s ability to 1991, but the legitimacy of the two women political sphere and public space. enter ‘male’ space, the advent of direct leaders from the two major parties is based Women also lack knowledge about elections has enabled women to channel on kinship ties. Party and political culture government functioning, which limits their their voices through local administrative remains male dominated. Gender issues do ability to be effective once elected to office. processes. About 78% of the 641 women not carry much weight in Bangladeshi Meanwhile, the prevalence of male resistance interviewed for the study conducted by politics, even though a vibrant feminist to female candidates and workers within the Zarina Rahman Khan and Amena Mohsin for movement can be traced back to the political parties limits women’s scope to run their 2008 paper Women’s Empowerment anti-colonial nationalist movement against for elections, rise up party ranks, and bolster through Local Governance reported that they the British and then later Pakistan. support for women’s needs and concerns. had participated in budget discussions. And Direct election to the 30% reserved seats And yet the provision of reservations has 58% stated that they had made suggestions in local government bodies was introduced clearly created space for women to challenge to reverse a number of UP decisions. for women in 1997 to ensure women’s some of these barriers. Women representatives have also made representation. This led to a radical shift in significant gains in establishing their local elections to the Union Parishad (UP), Pros and cons of large constituencies legitimacy as political actors by resolving the lowest tier of local government. Whereas A UP comprises one chair and nine general family disputes through informal dispute- women were previously nominated to the members, each representing an electoral resolution bodies, called shalishes. Both UP reserved seats by the chairperson of the UP, ward, with three reserved seats for women. members and local communities prefer the new system of direct elections linked the Each reserved seat represents one electoral women to settle disputes related to marriage, women representatives to a personal zone consisting of three general wards. As a divorce, polygamy and dowry. The general constituency. consequence, women have to campaign in a perception is that women members are more This measure boosted the legitimacy of much larger area than men. likely to relate to the difficulties faced by women politicians. In the 1997 and 2003 Recent studies, such as Emma Frankl’s women in society. elections, more than 40,000 women 2004 working paper Quotas and The fact that women are directly elected by the constituency also legitimises their right to act on behalf of other women. Given Women participating in local government elections. Source: Khan and Ara (2006) that male members are not in a competing Election year Total women candidates Elected chairman and number position with the women members regarding settling family disputes, there is little male Chair Member Chair Member resistance to women playing a prominent 1997 102 43,969 (456 contesting in general seats) 23 12, 828 (110 elected to general seats) role. The solutions offered by women 2003 232 43,764 (617 contesting in general seats) 22 12,684 (79 elected to general seats) members tend to be pragmatic in nature and 10 Capacity.org Issue 40 | August 2010 different socio-economic and occupational backgrounds. Participatory rural appraisal and social mapping processes prior to the training ensure that the people receiving the training have these different backgrounds. The assessment of these trainings by Democracy Watch in 2002 showed that CARE’s approach was more effective in creating a level of acceptance for women in the wider community and allowed them to function more effectively. However, women Reuters / Rafiquar Rahman who received training (whether specifically targeted or not) reported that it allowed them to change the attitudes of male members, who assumed they were unaware about various issues. Interestingly, assistance and training provided by movement-oriented NGOs, such as Nijera Kori, or women’s organisations, Women’s rights groups demand that women should become members of parliament only through direct such as Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, have voting in elections, not by nomination by parties represented in the assembly. Dhaka, Bangladesh. created a high level of consciousness among women who belong to these organizations – in contrast to other women UP members do not challenge gender power relations. The infrastructural development or social safety – about social problems and women’s women members interviewed explained that net programmes remains to be seen. practical concerns. These concerns vary from their solutions are offered keeping in mind These are areas where women are in direct dowry or early marriage to polygamy, the social costs and the constraints faced by competition with male UP members, so there women’s security in the public sphere and rural women in Bangladesh. is clearly a potential for resistance. water collection. These women are more Radical solutions are often untenable as a Nevertheless, very few women have played a willing to raise difficult issues in the public result of these social obstacles, but these prominent role in local shalish systems in sphere, and the support they receive from obstacles do ensure that women are able to the past. Their gain in social legitimacy as their organisations has allowed them to secure their customary claims and political actors is a significant development tackle administrative and other types of protections under the existing system. that will increase women’s visibility and set resistance. Whether this increased legitimacy would the stage for a discussion of women’s issues The Bangladesh case shows that the allow women to promote women’s interests in the public domain. advent of direct elections has established a effectively in matters related to direct link between the constituency and Strengthening women’s capacities women members. This, in turn, has given Gains in legitimacy by women and their women a stronger voice and more legitimacy ability to have a stronger voice have been as political actors. It also indicates that the Women’s rights in the constitution of supported by the different training way in which quota systems are Bangladesh programmes administered primarily by the implemented affects women’s capacity to act NGOs and women’s organisations, since in local governments. Whether women are government capacity to provide training is able to ‘act for’ other women depends on the The following articles in the Bangladesh limited. The majority of the NGO training support structures that exist for women, constitution safeguard the right of women to focuses on roles, responsibilities, legal particularly the types of training and links engage in political participation and enjoy equal awareness and human rights issues. A 1999 with other actors, such as NGOs and opportunities. World Food Programme study, Elected women’s organisations that strengthen their Women Members of UP: A Socioeconomic knowledge and ability to negotiate • Article 9: The State shall encourage local Study, showed that about 90% of the female resistance. < government institutions composed of members interviewed were unaware of the representatives of the areas concerned and in different government bodies and their such institutions special representation shall be functions, which indicates the need for Further reading given, as far as possible, to peasants, workers training. • Frankl, E. (2004) Quota as Empowerment: The Use of Reserved and women. Certain types of training have proved to Seats in Union Parishad as an Instrument for Women’s Political • Article 10: Steps shall be taken to ensure be more successful. For example, CARE Empowerment in Bangladesh. Working Paper Series 2004:3, participation of women in all spheres of Bangladesh, a humanitarian organisation, Department of Political Science, Stockholm University, Sweden. national life. trains both male and female members, unlike www.statsvet.su.se/quotas/emma_frankl_wps_2004_3.pdf • Article 19: The State shall endeavour to ensure some of the larger NGOs, such as the Khan • Khan, M. R. and Ara, F. (2006) Women, Participation and equality of opportunity to all citizens. Foundation or the PRIP Trust. The latter Empowerment in Local Government: Bangladesh Union Parishad • Article 27: All citizens are equal before law focus exclusively on women members. Perspective. Asian Affairs 29(1): 73-92. and are entitled to equal protection of law. CARE’s project is designed to raise cross- • Khan, Z.R. and Mohsin, A. (2008) Women’s Empowerment • Article 28: gender awareness among councillors and through Local Governance: Emerging Issues and Debates. Paper (1): The State shall not discriminate against community members, and empower female presented at Pathways of Women’s Empowerment RPC Mid-Term any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, members by informing them of how UPs Review Conference, 20-24 January, 2009. caste, sex or place of birth. function and what their roles are as political • Nazneen, S. and Tasneem, S. (2010) A Silver Lining: Women in (2) : Women shall have equal rights with men actors. Reserved Seats in Local Government in Bangladesh. IDS Bulletin in all spheres of the State and of public life. The CARE project also develops the (forthcoming). capacity of entire villages by training the • World Food Programme (1999) Elected Women Members of UP: Source: Khan and Ara (2006) community in capacity building. This A Socioeconomic Study. World Food Programme. Dhaka, training includes both men and women with Bangladesh. www.capacity.org 11 POLICY Decentralisation and affirmative action Capacity for effective participation Affirmative action measures aimed at enhancing women’s participation as political representatives in decentralised government bodies is a growing field of research and development practice. Several issues need to be addressed first, however, to realise these goals. Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay email@example.com provide three additional seats within each by a local NGO (Alternatieve) shows that Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Amsterdam, Union Parishad, and potential women during the 2006 and 2009 election processes the Netherlands representatives of these seats are elected by in the Zinder Region of Niger, all political and responsible for three wards. parties complied with the law by running Elsbet Lodenstein This means that women candidates have women as 10% of their candidates. On some firstname.lastname@example.org to canvass and oversee an area three times occasions, they even put women with strong Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Amsterdam, the size of the area covered by a general voter appeal at the top of the list. the Netherlands (male) member. Women are further Women are systematically pushed to the disadvantaged by resource constraints. bottom of the list as soon as the elections are Evelien Kamminga Although they receive the same budgetary over, however, thereby destroying any email@example.com and other resources as general members, chance of their becoming councillors. Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Amsterdam, women have a wider area to cover. There is Political parties abuse the quota law in that the Netherlands also role confusion, as the role of women sense, taking advantage of the fact that it representatives in given constituencies, does not prescribe a quota for the number of which also have three general members, is seats in the council, only for the party lists. often ambiguous. Affirmative action clearly helps women to A ffirmative action has made it possible in some countries for women to be included in significant numbers in local In India, where women receive 33% reservation at all levels of local government, the seats reserved for women rotate during access local and national power structures. However, these examples show that the credibility and legitimacy of elected women as government. At the same time, devolution every election. Thus a ward reserved for political actors can also be undermined by policies are granting more powers to local all-female competition becomes a general policy design issues or the partial government. Do these combined policies ward (in which women and men can implementation of affirmative action measures. improve the effectiveness of women’s compete) in the next election. As a result, Affirmative action will only succeed in participation in decision making? This article political parties simply do not take women’s getting more women into office if more explores the institutional and capacity candidacy seriously nor do they invest in the attention is focused on three levels of policy: development issues that need addressing in elected women, knowing very well that in • the clear definition and formulation of order for elected women to participate the next round of elections these women will affirmative action policy (the quality of substantively in local government. be of no use to their electoral prospects. the quota law); Whether or not women will effectively In Uganda, the 1997 Local Government • the translation of the law into regulations, exercise participation and power in practice Act requires 30% of local council seats to be procedures and accountability mechanisms at the local level depends to a great extent reserved for all-female competition. (e.g. terms of inclusion); and on the terms of their inclusion (the specific However, these seats are an addition to the • the actual implementation of the policy. features of affirmative action, for example), council body, not part of the existing seats. the extent to which the rules and New wards are created for women’s Decision making about resources decentralisation encourage gendered representation, combining two to three Decentralisation processes have been seized participation, and the strength of women’s regular wards. In effect, this at least doubles upon to enhance political participation among organisations in civil society at the local the constituency which women are meant to poor women. Decentralisation has introduced level. This article analyses these issues in a represent compared to regular ward measures giving women greater number of countries, based on research representatives. representation in some contexts and has led conducted by the Royal Tropical Institute Elections for the women’s seats are held to civil society initiatives that focus on (KIT) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in separately, a good two weeks after the ward building the capacity of women elected to collaboration with IDRC. elections. In the 1998 local government local government bodies, organising women’s elections, irritation with this unwieldy constituencies, introducing gender audits and Terms of inclusion system, as well as voter fatigue, resulted in a using existing institutional spaces. In Latin In Bangladesh, women representatives are failure to achieve quorum for women’s America, for example, participatory budgeting disadvantaged by structural constraints elections all over the country. Many reruns (a statutory requirement in Peru and Brazil) is related to the way quotas for women are were subsequently held, but the process being used both as a political tool for incorporated into the electoral system. The undermined the perceived legitimacy and mobilisation and for increasing local Union Parishad (a rural local government credibility of women politicians. government accountability towards poor institution) is made up of nine wards, and In Niger, very few women become women’s interests. the electorate in each of these wards elects a councillors, despite a law stipulating a 10% Experience shows, however, that women’s general member. The quotas for women quota of women councillors. Action research participation in decision making depends on 12 Capacity.org Issue 40 | August 2010 a number of factors. They include the specific institutional rules governing planning, the extent of devolution of funds and other resources to the local level, and the extent to which power is decentralised so that the use of resources can be monitored and audited by local government bodies. A common problem in India, for example, is that not all states have devolved financial and administrative powers to the lowest- level local government bodies, the panchayats. In many instances, panchayats are merely the implementing agency for national poverty eradication and other related programmes and have no role in their planning. There are similar obstacles in many other countries, where citizens participate in development planning through major consultation processes, and yet local governments still only have limited Reuters autonomy and control over revenues and resources to implement their plans. A lack of decision-making space undermines the Although Ugandan law requires 30% of local council seats to be reserved for women, men integration of citizens’ priorities, in continue to dominate the elections. particular women’s interests that may also undermine local government legitimacy in the long run. NGOs and civil society organisations make up for women’s deficits rather than Even if local governments have the power continue to support women in local measures that tackle the institutional and resources to implement their plans, few government by enhancing their capacities conditions that constrain women’s mechanisms exist that enable citizens to and voices. In India and Bangladesh they do participation, such as the terms of inclusion hold their local government accountable for so on the assumption that women’s political and the features of the decentralisation budgeting and implementation decisions, in inexperience, and their lack of skills and reforms discussed above. particular with regard to gender equality. No information, constrains their political Therefore, increased political participation state in India, with the exception of Kerala, participation. Governmental training requires a thorough understanding of a has actually earmarked a percentage of its programmes for elected representatives share country’s political context and its terms of budget for women’s development, making it these assumptions. Many civil society inclusion, and an integrative approach to even more difficult to press for decisions organisations, especially those representing empowerment, institutional development that would further women’s agendas. women’s interests, have also realised the and the formalisation of spaces for citizen In her 2004 essay, Decentralization and importance of support networks for women’s participation and accountability gender equality, Anne-Marie Goetz provides survival and continuance in public office. mechanisms. < examples of institutional innovations that have made women’s participation possible in Institutional constraints often ignored different national contexts and rendered Several research studies on participation in Further reading planning and monitoring functions more local government institutions by elected • Asian Development Bank (2004) RETA 6008: Gender and accountable to women’s interests. These women view them as independent agents or Governance Issues in Local Government. Overview paper. Asian innovations include earmarking a percentage rather as women unaffected by gender Development Bank. www.adb.org of the budget for women-only deliberations, inequality. According to an assessment • Elhadje, H. (2010) Progress report on Women’s Political gender-sensitive local revenue and spending carried out by the Asian Development Bank Participation in Zinder Region. Alternatieve, Niger, October analysis. These are some of the measures in 2004, Gender and Governance Issues in 2009-April 2010, West-Africa Gender Inclusive Citizenship that should amplify women’s voices in local Local Government, more than 70% of women programme. KIT (funded by Oxfam-Novib), mimeo. deliberations, and support spending on councillors interviewed in Bangladesh were • Goetz, A.M. (2004) Decentralization and gender equality, in women’s needs. not aware of their rights and responsibilities Striving for Gender Equality in an Unequal World. UNDP report for as representatives. An even higher Beijing +10, ch. 12. Focus on individual capacities percentage – more than 80% – expressed a • Mukhopadhyay, M. (2005) Decentralisation and Gender Equity in There is no getting around the fact that lack of confidence in their ability to conduct South Asia. An issues paper for IDRC. KIT, the Netherlands. affirmative action in local governments in meetings. In Pakistan, only 22% of women www.kit.nl South Asia has given rise to what has been councillors reported that they attended • Mukhopadhyay, M., Hunter, C. and Milward, K. (2010) Gender termed ‘de facto’ politics. De facto politics council meetings regularly, and less than and Rights Resource Guide. Gendernet, Denmark. refers to a political situation where a person, 30% had any knowledge of the council www.konsnet.dk/Default.aspx?ID=21480 despite being an elected representative, does agendas of the last two sessions or of the • Mukhopadhyay, M. and Meer, S. (2004) Creating Voice and not actively participate in governance council budget. Carving Space: Redefining Governance from a Gender Perspective. processes. This is not to suggest that all While participation rates of elected women KIT, the Netherlands. www.kit.nl women always find themselves in this in local councils are low, they are also situation, nor that it is irreversible. There is contingent on several factors, such as gender ample evidence to suggest that rural and norms, family, caste, class and religion. This Links urban women, as well as low caste, tribal inadvertently points to the ‘incapacity’ of • KIT Information Portal – Gender, Citizenship and Governance: women elected to local government women, or their ‘indifference’, to get www.kit.nl/eCache/FAB/23/624.html institutions have functioned and are involved in politics and local councils. The • KIT Information Portal – Rural Decentralization and Local functioning as elected representatives. solutions offered are generally measures to Governance: www.kit.nl/eCache/FAB/33/050.html www.capacity.org 13 PRACTICE Decentralisation and women’s rights in Latin America A magic bullet for gender equality? Successful decentralisation should make government more accessible, accountable and responsive to women. But does it? Have decentralisation processes increased women’s decision-making power at the local level? In El Salvador and Honduras, the National Strategic Planning Process, which created Foundation for Development (FUNDE) thematic groups to facilitate relations analysed how organised women have between citizens and the local government, Rebecca Smith contributed to the creation of local including a Women’s Citizenship Committee. firstname.lastname@example.org governance mechanisms that promote gender The municipality also collected baseline Research officer, Women’s Rights and Citizenship, equality and women’s rights. In recent years, data on the status of local women to inform International Development Research Centre (IDRC) deepening inequalities in the two countries evidence-based policy making and the have meant increasing poverty rates, formulation of proposals for activities to gender-based violence and a deteriorating reduce gender inequalities. The data from quality of life for women. this survey fed directly into the Municipal D ecentralisation has sometimes been presented as a magic bullet for developing countries seeking to achieve both Both countries’ political systems are characterised by democratic and institutional fragility, and the implementation of public Policy on Gender Equality, which the city council adopted in 2003. As a result of coordinated advocacy development and democracy. Based on the policies regarding women has been very efforts between the Women’s Citizenship principle of subsidiarity, decentralisation is weak. The advent of decentralisation in the Committee and local women’s movements, acclaimed for placing greater powers in the mid-1990s presented a significant challenge a municipal Gender Unit was created to hands of local governments. World leaders, for local governments. execute the policy, and to build municipal NGOs, donor agencies and multilateral Strategies for mainstreaming gender institutions’ capacities to respond to the institutions agree that development and equality at the local level included needs of local women in the communities. democracy both fail unless women are establishing policies aimed specifically at The Gender Unit was an innovative effort included on an equal footing with men, and addressing issues of interest to women as driven by civil society and taken up by that successful decentralisation should make well as creating institutions dedicated to local councillors to build municipal government more accessible and accountable advancing women’s rights. institutions’ capacities to respond to local to women. A case study of Santa Tecla, a city in El women’s needs. But does it? Since 2006, research teams in Salvador, demonstrates how a local One focus group respondent from the Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras and government can work with women’s municipality said that the creation of the Paraguay have been exploring this question organisations to create bottom-up Gender Unit ‘generated many opportunities, as part of a multiregional research project institutional mechanisms that promote opened doors, for Santa Tecla was valued as supported by the Women’s Rights and gender equality. In 2002, municipal an innovative city’. This demonstrates an Citizenship programme at the International authorities initiated the Participatory evolution in popular conceptions of gender Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Canada. In coordination with the Regional Training Programme on Gender and Public Policy at the Latin American School of From research to policy Social Sciences (FLACSO) in Argentina, the four research teams asked whether and how In November 2008, IDRC and the Mexican government co-hosted the International Conference on decentralisation processes during the past Decentralization, Local Power and Women’s Rights in Mexico City. Throughout the conference, a working two decades have increased women’s group collaborated to produce recommendations for policy makers, politicians, aid agencies and civil decision-making power at the local level. society organisations. This comprehensive set of recommendations is a valuable resource for governments Two central themes framed the research and organisations such as the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) and the United projects: women’s political participation and Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (UN-INSTRAW). The women’s access to public services in following excerpt highlights key recommendations: decentralised systems. • Implement capacity building to promote and empower local women’s participation in formal and informal political processes and to enhance national and local governments’ capacity to promote gender Women’s political participation equality. Latin America has a long history of women’s • Address social and cultural norms inhibiting women’s effective participation by implementing mandatory activism for citizenship entitlements. gender-awareness education for relevant bodies involved in matters of decentralisation. However, gains in formal equality have not • Support the capacity of local government to formulate, implement and monitor gender-responsive always translated into substantive gains. The planning and budgeting. heterogeneity of women throughout the region means that the benefits of The full set of recommendations, project reports and more information on IDRC programming on advancements in gender equality concerns decentralisation is available at: www.idrc.ca/decentralization. are not enjoyed equally by all women. 14 Capacity.org Issue 40 | August 2010 equality as a key element of democratic governance. Gender Unit projects also raised greater awareness of women’s rights and helped local women benefit from empowerment programmes. The municipal government also instituted reforms, such as establishing a quota of 35% women’s membership on the boards of community associations. One local woman stated that participation in various public activities, organisational processes and trainings sponsored by the Gender Unit allowed women to integrate into local political life and understand their rights as citizens. Achieving substantive gender equality remains a challenge in El Salvador and Honduras. Women continue to face Reuters / Henry Romero resistance in establishing their legitimacy as skilled and able political actors, whereas men are assumed to be prepared to enter political roles. Women’s rights advocates also claim that local mechanisms can go further in challenging unequal power relations and structural sources of women’s disadvantage, rather than focusing on practical demands The banner reads: ‘International women’s march, all Women all Rights’. Mexico City, 2008. and creating conditions for women to carry out traditional social reproduction functions. Although governance in both countries is health system impacted gender equity. They • an active and organised civil society; still highly centralised, FUNDE found that found that in municipalities where local • the provision of capacity-building training women’s organisations have provided critical health councils truly strengthened citizen for female elected officials; assistance to local governments in such participation, the provision of health services • targeted government efforts at reducing areas as budget analysis and generating data was often better. Researchers found that systemic inequalities; on gender inequality. The Santa Tecla women were able to use the councils to • the inclusion of women and men in experience also demonstrates that state articulate local health priorities, although planning processes and governance; decentralisation is not necessarily driven local women often found it difficult to • government recognition of diversity; and from the executive – it can also be initiated challenge the dominant authorities and • greater involvement of women in from below. The contribution of these demand better health services. budgeting and controller capacities. mechanisms and forums has facilitated the A factor beyond the power of the councils Also, local and national governments need participation of women in municipal that impacts women’s access to health to invest more in strategies to reduce management and has helped to institute services is the national health financing gender-based violence in order for women to more democratic practices at the local level. policy. For Paraguayans that relied on the be able to realise their full political, public health-care system, and for poor and economic and social rights. Women’s access to services indigenous women in particular, access to Decentralisation has changed the political Advocates of sectoral decentralisation argue health services was limited by the imposition and institutional context for promoting the that reforms can make water management, of a cost-recovery model for public health full and equal rights of citizens in many health, education, local economic care, based on the payment of user fees. At societies around the world. By transferring development and other public functions the start of the project in 2006, only 20% of functions, resources and greater political and more efficient and accountable to citizens. the country’s population enjoyed health fiscal autonomy to local governments, Citizen participation in the user groups and insurance. This changed following national decentralisation can provide new local management committees that often elections in 2008 when the new coalition opportunities for women and men to accompany decentralisation is also intended government identified decentralisation as participate in matters that closely affect their to empower citizens while improving service one of its primary strategies to ensure lives. delivery. universality, equity and citizen participation It is more than just a technical exercise; it In Paraguay, efforts to decentralise health in health care. is a political process that is shaped by local care were understood by the government to Several members of the research team culture, history and priorities. One cannot be a technical mechanism for improving the assumed decision-making positions within the assume that local governments will be management of resources and increasing the new government in 2008, and one of the first inherently more effective or interested in ability to identify and solve local health actions taken was the establishment of a advancing gender equity. Political will and problems through increased community progressive approach to provide free, concrete actions are required to make participation. From 2000 to 2007, local decentralised health services. In 2008, the decentralisation a truly democratising and health councils were established throughout National Equality and Decentralization Fund empowering process that promotes gender the country to formally manage the was established, and it pledged US$5 million to equity and meaningful citizen distribution of health-care resources, often 100 health councils for the execution of health participation. < comprised of members of civil society as programmes relevant to local communities. well as public and private institutions. Researchers from the Paraguayan Centro Enabling decentralisation Links de Documentación y Estudios undertook a The projects in Latin America demonstrate • Women’s Rights and Citizenship programme at IDRC: comparative study of ten cases to assess how key factors that may enable democratic www.idrc.ca/womensrights the process of decentralising Paraguay’s decentralisation: • FLACSO: www.flacso.org www.capacity.org 15 GUEST COLUMN Women’s representation in local government in Africa Capacity.org, issue 40, August 2010 Capacity.org is published in English, French A matter of political will and Spanish, with an accompanying web magazine (www.capacity.org) and email newsletter. Each issue focuses on a specific theme relevant to capacity development in international cooperation, with articles, interviews and a guest column, and annotated and by the burdens imposed by the HIV/Aids links to related web resources, publications epidemic, civil wars and serious economic and events. problems. Many authorities are failing to enforce quotas and affirmative action policies, Editor-in-chief: Heinz Greijn or to carry out gender-sensitive research. But email@example.com perhaps the most serious obstacle is the lack of Editorial board: Niloy Banerjee, Volker political will to address the situation. Hauck, Jan Ubels and Hettie Walters Editorial board support: Niels Keijzer and Addressing inequality Tony Land As part of its work in the Lake Victoria region of East Africa, UN-HABITAT is supporting Contributors to this issue: Sylvia Bergh, Cecilia Kinuthia-Njenga local authorities in recognising that gender Abigail Jacobs-Williams, Evelien Kamminga, firstname.lastname@example.org equality is not only a human right, but crucial Cecilia Kinuthia-Njenga, Elsbet Lodenstein, Human settlements officer, Urban to the entire process of local development. One Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay, Sohela Nazneen, Environmental and Planning Branch, of its objectives is to support a regional Helen O’Connell, Celia M. Reyes, Rebecca UN-HABITAT, Nairobi, Kenya strategy for mainstreaming gender issues in Smith, Sakiba Tasneem and Susan Tolmay local development planning. A recent assessment by UN-HABITAT revealed that The opinions expressed in Capacity.org are many local authorities have achieved little in those of the authors and do not necessarily A s the level of government closest to citizens, local authorities can play a vital role in addressing gender inequality and in the area of gender equality because they lack the necessary capacity for strategic planning. For instance, very few collect the gender- reflect those of ECDPM, ICCO, SNV or UNDP. Production: Contactivity bv, Stationsweg 28, building the capacities of women by involving disaggregated data that are essential for 2312 AV Leiden, the Netherlands them in local decision making, planning and integrating gender perspectives in the design Editing: Valerie Jones, Mark Speer and management. The importance of that role was and delivery of services such as education, Tim Woods recognised by the International Union of Local water and sanitation. Translation: Michel Coclet (French) and Authorities and in the 1998 Worldwide If local authorities are to address gender Beatriz Bugni (Spanish) Declaration on Women in Local Government. inequality, they need to be able to: Layout: Anita Toebosch Earlier, increasing the participation of women • integrate gender perspectives in local Web content management: Wangu Mwangi in politics and decision making was a central legislation, policies, programmes and theme of the Beijing Platform for Action (1995). projects based on gender-sensitive analysis; Publishers: European Centre for Development This was reaffirmed in 2000 in the third • develop conceptual and practical Policy Management (ECDPM), Interchurch Millennium Development Goal, to ‘promote methodologies for incorporating gender Organisation for Development Cooperation gender equality and empower women’. perspectives in local planning processes, (ICCO), SNV Netherlands Development African governments are signatories to a including the development of indicators; Organisation and United Nations Development number of regional and international agreements • collect, analyse and disseminate gender- Programme (UNDP). relating to women’s political participation. These disaggregated data and information, Capacity.org was founded by ECDPM in 1999. include the Protocol to the African Charter on including statistical methods that recognise Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of and make visible the unremunerated work ISSN 1571-7496 Women in Africa (2003), and the African Union’s of women, for use in policy and programme Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa planning and implementation; Readers are welcome to reproduce materials (2004). African countries are also obligated to • integrate a gender perspective in the design published in Capacity.org provided that the give women equality of opportunity in law, and implementation of sustainable resources source is clearly acknowledged. under the law, and in administrative practice, in management mechanisms, production accordance with the UN Convention on the techniques and infrastructure projects; and Capacity.org is available free of charge for Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination • formulate and strengthen policies and practitioners and policy makers in against Women (CEDAW). practices to promote the full and equal international cooperation. To subscribe, visit But despite these commitments, the participation of women in planning and www.capacity.org. representation of women in local authority decision making (Habitat Agenda, 1996). Issue 41 will be available in December 2010. leadership positions in Africa is still limited. In Development agencies should continue to 2005, the United Cities and Local Governments enhance the capacity of local authorities to (UCLG) network, using data from 60 countries, address gender inequality, while also supporting found that a mere 9% of all mayors and 21% women leaders to acquire the necessary skills of local councillors were women. The UCLG and capacities. In this, however, a key identified some major obstacles to women’s requirement is political will, which is to a large political participation, including cultural and extent determined by men who are over- traditional prejudices and the persistent represented in leadership positions. Achieving unequal division of labour and responsibilities gender equality is not just a task for women, within households. but also requires male leaders to advocate for Women are hampered by their lack of equality. Sensitising them to the need to financial independence, inadequate education, support gender equality is therefore crucial. < 16 Capacity.org Issue 40 | August 2010
"Local government for gender equality"