Local government for gender equality by dandanhuanghuang


									                                                                   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

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                  toon.vaneijk@upcmail.nl
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!

Wendy Quarry
Ricardo Ramirez

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                editor@capacity.org                                  elections in Ghana.
positions. One way of doing this is through              Editor-in-Chief                                      Alamy / Olivier Asselin

                                                                                                                                                  www.capacity.org 3
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
helen.m.oconnell@btinternet.com                     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
                                                   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


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
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
reyesc@dls-csb.edu.ph                                     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

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 (bergh@iss.nl).
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
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
sohela.nazneen@gmail.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.
sakibatasneem@yahoo.com                                   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

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
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
m.mukhopadhyay@kit.nl                            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
e.lodenstein@kit.nl                              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
e.kamminga@kit.nl                                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

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
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.
rsmith@idrc.ca                                      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
   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
   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
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       heinzgreijn@yahoo.co.uk
                                                      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,
cecilia.njenga@unhabitat.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

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