TRENDS IN INSTITUTIONALISING GENDER EQUALITY COMMITMENTS
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THE WINSTON CHURCHILL MEMORIAL TRUST OF AUSTRALIA Report by Juliet Hunt 2000 Churchill Fellow Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations and programs 1 INDEX Page 1. INTRODUCTION 3 Acknowledgments 3 2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 4 2.1 Contact details 4 2.2 Churchill fellowship topic 4 2.3 Highlights of the fellowship program 4 2.4 Major lessons learned & conclusions 4 2.5 Dissemination & implementation of findings 3. PROGRAMME 5 4. TRENDS & CHALLENGES IN THE INSTITUTIONALISATION OF 9 GENDER EQUALITY COMMITMENTS 4.1 “We have arrived”: where? 9 4.2 Confusion about concepts, strategies & goals: where are we 10 heading? 4.3 Back to the future?: gender mainstreaming, the invisibility of 11 women & gender expertise 4.4 Good practice on gender mainstreaming 11 4.5 More tools & better gender sensitive indicators 13 4.6 Approaches to gender training 14 4.7 Gender & diversity: threat or opportunity? 15 4.8 Mandatory systems, incentive-based approaches & good 16 management practice Reviews of the implementation of gender equality policy 17 5. GENDER AUDITING APPROACHES & TOOLS 18 5.1 Summary of audit methods 18 InterAction gender audit questionnaire 18 Novib gender & diversity computer software 19 ACORD audit of annual reports 19 Gender & development training centre 20 5.2 Reflection on issues & lessons raised by gender auditing 20 5.3 Social auditing principles should be applied to gender auditing 21 6. MICRO-FINANCE & WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT 23 6.1 Introduction 23 6.2 Summary of findings 23 Access vs control of decision making, loan management & income from 23 credit 24 Access & control over assets 24 Impact on daughters & sons: education & workload 25 Impact on marriage practices 25 Impact on women’s mobility 25 Violence against women Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 2 Page Self-respect & self-worth 26 Micro-finance: designed for the poor or the poorest? 26 6.3 Strategies to support women’s empowerment & transformation in 27 gender relations 6.4 Conclusions 27 7. LESSONS ON INSTITUTIONALISING GENDER EQUALITY 28 COMMITMENTS & ADDRESSING POLICY EVAPORATION 7.1 Documented lessons about key strategic factors for promoting 28 gender equality need to be systematically applied 7.2 Government agencies & NGOs face common constraints & draw 28 on similar strategies for promoting gender equality 7.3 Having a gender sensitive implementing organisation does not 29 guarantee successful strategies or outcomes in field programs 7.4 Commitment from below is as important as commitment from 30 above 7.5 Collaboration with key stakeholders is essential to make progress 31 at organisational & field level 7.6 Demonstrate how addressing gender equality assists development 32 workers to do their existing jobs more effectively 7.7 Gender advocates & focal points need good strategic planning & 32 advocacy skills, in addition to gender analysis skills 7.8 External & internal pressure is critical for achieving progress 33 8. CONCLUSIONS 34 8.1 Major conclusions 34 Principles & strategies for institutionalisation need to be systematically 34 applied 34 Collaboration, participation & commitment are essential 34 Agencies need to work on many fronts at once 34 Organisational assessment, strategic planning & management are needed 34 Gender training should be tailored to specific organisational, sectoral & program needs 8.2 Dissemination of findings 35 9. RECOMMENDATIONS 37 9.1 Recommendations on the institutionalisation of gender equality 37 commitments in Australian donor agencies 9.2 Recommendations on micro-finance programs 37 Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 3 1. INTRODUCTION This report details findings from a Churchill Fellowship undertaken by the author in 2000. The focus of the fellowship was to explore how development agencies are institutionalising their commitments to gender equality policies. I was looking for successful strategies for advancing gender equality commitments at organisational and field levels, lessons about what works and what doesn‟t, and any new “secrets of success”. Not surprisingly, there were few new “secrets of success”. However, lessons and strategies that have already been documented were strongly reinforced, and other lessons emerged. The Fellowship was an excellent opportunity to assess current trends and challenges facing gender advocates within development agencies. One specific area of investigation was gender auditing approaches and tools. This is a very new area with few publications available, and many experiences and lessons needing to be shared. The impact of micro- finance programs on women‟s empowerment was a major focus for research at field level, in the context of general strategies for institutionalising gender equality approaches. The duration of the fellowship was 12 weeks. Most of this time was spent visiting donor agencies in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Bilateral agencies, non-government organisations (NGOs) and some multilateral agencies were visited (see Programme in section 3). The first 3 weeks of the fellowship was spent in Bangladesh and India, accompanied by Nalini Kasynathan, Program Coordinator from Community Aid Abroad / Oxfam Australia (CAA), visiting local NGOs and their programs in the field. It was only possible to visit a selection of agencies. However, these were selected because of their reputation for good gender practice. On the whole, my interviews and discussions with agency staff, consultants and beneficiaries in the field yielded consistent findings. Acknowledgments My sincere thanks go to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust of Australia, for their generous financial support, which provided such a wonderful opportunity to extend horizons, and to reflect on strategies and directions in this important area of work. Many thanks are due to staff in AusAID and CAA for their support for the fellowship, and for suggesting many contacts overseas. My field visits in Bangladesh and India with Nalini Kasynathan from CAA were a highlight of the trip. It was wonderful to be able share and challenge each other‟s reflections. Nalini‟s deep commitment to gender equality, her understanding of the issues, and her energy were a source of inspiration. All the organisations we visited in Bangladesh were generous with their time, and they cannot be thanked enough. Without their support, it would have been impossible for us to meet with so many staff, and most importantly with the village women and men who are building their own paths to empowerment. Acknowledgment is also due to all the donor staff and consultants who met with me. I particularly thank Dorine Plantenga from the Gender and Development Training Centre, Anne Walker from the International Women‟s Tribune Centre, and Suzanne Kindervatter and Patricia Morris from InterAction who provided both moral and physical support (in the form of office space to write, check emails and phone for appointments), and who made themselves available to share reflections and findings. The findings presented in this report are the sole responsibility of the author. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 4 2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 2.1 Contact details Dr Juliet Hunt, 22 Meeks Crescent, Faulconbridge, NSW, 2776, Australia Independent consultant on gender and development, strategic planning, monitoring and project documentation Phone: 61 2 4751 7442; Fax: 61 2 4751 7486; Email: email@example.com 2.2 Churchill fellowship topic Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations and programs 2.3 Highlights of the fellowship programme Bangladesh: Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee ; Proshika; & Banchte Sheka. India: Nav Bharat Jagriti Kendra (NBJK) France: Development Assistance Committee, OECD Netherlands: Gender & Development Training Centre; Novib; Institute of Social Studies; DGIS (Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs) UK: ACORD; ActionAid; Oxfam; (DfID) Department for International Development; BRIDGE, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex University; consultants. USA: UNDP; Care; International Women‟s Tribune Centre; USAID; World Bank; WidTech (International Centre for Research on Women); InterAction; consultants. 2.4 Major lessons learned and conclusions Many of the lessons about principles and strategies for institutionalising gender equality commitments are already known, but need to be systematically applied by development agencies. Having a gender sensitive implementing organisation does not guarantee successful strategies or outcomes on gender equality in field programs. Collaboration, participation and commitment are essential to make progress on gender equality at organisational and field levels. Agencies need to work on many fronts at once, by utilising a range of institutionalisation strategies. Organisational assessment, strategic planning and management skills are needed to identify an appropriate mix of strategies for advancing gender equality. Training should be tailored to specific organisational, sectoral and program needs. 2.5 Dissemination & implementation of findings Article titled “Pathways to empowerment?: Reflections on micro-finance and transformation in gender relations” to be published in March 2001 edition of Gender and Development, journal of Oxfam Great Britain, Oxford. Individual briefings in September/October 2000 with staff from AusAID, International Women‟s Development Agency, Australian Council for Overseas Aid, Community Aid Abroad; Fiji Women‟s Crisis Centre and Vanuatu Women‟s Centre. Three seminars in December 2000 held at: Community Aid Abroad (CAA); and AusAID (one on general findings, and one focused on micro-finance). Dissemination of report (Feb 2001) to all agencies visited, and Australian agencies. Incorporation of findings into author’s own work, particularly gender training, auditing, and ongoing work on the institutionalisation of gender equality commitments. Possible publication of article or booklet reviewing gender audit methods (mid 2001). Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 5 3. PROGRAMME BANGLADESH Oxfam Great Britain, Dhaka, 20/6/00 Shelley, Gender Focal Point Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), 21/6/00, 24/6/00 - 25/6/00 At BRAC Head Office, Dhaka, 21/6/00: Sheepa Hafiza, General Manager, Human Resource Management; Sadequr Rahman Khan, Manager, Gender Quality Action Learning Program (GQAL); Md Abdur Rahman, Senior Trainer, Exposure Unit Visit to BRAC library, 24/6/00 During field visit to Comilla District, 24/6/00 - 25/6/00: Mannan, GQAL trainer, Comilla Training Centre; Leena, GQAL Trainer, BRAC Head Office (interpreter for the field trip); Meeting with Dotala Village Organisation (women‟s group, a very poor village, mainly fisherfolk); Meeting with a group of female poultry vaccinators at BRAC Chandina Area Office; Meeting with BRAC Social Development Adviser, Social Forestry Worker and Area Coordinator/Manager at BRAC Chandina Area Office (all male); Meeting with BRAC Habiganj Area Office staff (male and female) NOVA Consultancy Bangladesh, 21/6/00 Yasmin Ahmed, Head, Nova Consultancy, Dhaka Proshika, 22/6/00, 28/6/00 - 29/6/00 At Head Office, Dhaka, 22/6/00: Fawzia Khondker Eva, Coordinator, Gender Relations Coordination Cell Mahbubul Karim, Senior Vice-President During field visits to Thamrai Area Development Centre, Dhaka District, 28/6/00 - 29/6/00: Tapati Saha, Gender Relations Coordination Cell; Kalpana, Gender Relations Coordination Cell; Shameema, Gender Relations Coordination Cell; Meeting with Area Development Coordinator, General Coordinator and Training Coordinator, Thamrai Area Development Centre; Meeting with members of Goaldi Village Federation (male and female); Meeting with members of Shamdi Village Primary Group (all women); Observation of and discussion with Thamri Thana Federation Meeting (male and female); Meeting with all staff from Thamri Area Development Centre (female and male, translated by Shameema); Visit to Koitta Training Centre and Child Care Centre Nari Paakha, Dhaka, 23/6/00 Leena and Lily, and visit to Utsho Bangladesh (school for destitute children) Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association, Dhaka, 24/6/00 Shaila Mahbub, BNWLA Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 6 Visit to Proshanti, Shelter Home of BNWLA for child victims of trafficking, meeting with all staff and tour of shelter Banchte Sheka, Jessore, 26/6/00 - 27/6/00 Angela Gomes, Director; Observation of shaleesh, including Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee, half an hour from Jessore; Meeting with Program Directors and Angela; Meeting with members of women‟s group in Vaturia Village; Meeting with all Banchte Sheka staff INDIA Nav Bharat Jagriti Kendra, Bihar state, 2/7/00 - 6/7/00 Hazirabag, 3/7/00: Meeting with NBJK staff, translations by Rajiv; Meeting with Meera, Sarda and Usa, NBJK Family Counselling Centre; Meeting with Sila and Usa, Heads of Voluntary Organisations; Meeting with Titili Mahilla Budget Samuh (women‟s group of Sila‟s Sri Sakti organisation); Byomkesh, Manager NBJK savings and credit program; Meeting with Manager of Rural Industries Program of NBJK Bahera Ashram, Chouparan District, 4/7/00: Tour of ashram, including power loom and concrete tile making by women; Rajiv, on CAA-funded capacity building program; 5 women power loom workers, followed by meeting with Manager of power loom; Manju Devi, Block Manager for NBJK credit program; Dagbar Village Self-Help Women‟s Groups (with Manju and Rajiv); Meeting with second village Self-Help Women‟s Groups (with Manju and Rajiv); Patna, 5/7/00 Observation of Lok Samity meeting; Manthi Varma, Mahilla Vhal Jyoti Kendra, (Head of a Voluntary Organisation); Lalmani, Mahilla Jagran Pariwad, (Head of a Voluntary Organisation) Ranchi District, 6/7/00 Meeting with 3 women‟s groups from Icharak village, tribal area; Shampa, NBJK Program Coordinator for Ranchi District FRANCE Development Assistance Committee (DAC), OECD, 12/7/00 Francesca Cook, Working Party on Gender and Development, Strategic Management of Development Cooperation Division, Development Cooperation Directorate NETHERLANDS Gender and Development Training Centre, Haarlem, 18/7, 23/7 & 25/7/00 Dorine Plantenga Hettie Walters Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 7 Royal Tropical Institute Library, Amsterdam, 19/7/00 Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Den Haag, 20/7/00 Rita Rahmen, Head, Women and Development Division, Social and Institutional Development Department (DGIS), Ministry of Foreign Affairs Novib (Netherlands Organisation for International Development Cooperation), Den Haag, 24/7 & 26/7/00 Irma van Dueren, Senior Advisor, Gender and Development Gerard Steehouwer, Programme Officer, Pakistan and Bangladesh Consultants Ria Brouwers, Institute of Social Studies, Den Haag, 25/7/00 Irene Guijt, Consultant, 26/7/00 UNITED KINGDOM ActionAid, London, 7/8/00 Carol Miller, Gender Policy Analyst ACORD (Agency for Co-operation and Research in Development), London, 7/8/00 Angela Hadjipateras, Research and Policy Officer BRIDGE, (Briefings on Development and Gender), Institute of Development Studies, Sussex University, 8/8/00 Hazel Reeves, Manager, BRIDGE Sally Baden, Director, MA Gender and Development, Researcher Oxfam Great Britain, Oxford, 9/8/00 Caroline Sweetman, Editor, Gender and Development, Policy Department Monica Trujillo, Gender Focal Point Fiona Gell, Gender Focal Point INTRAC (International NGO Training and Research Centre), Oxford, 9/8/00 Brenda Lipson, Director of Training and Capacity Building Martina Hunt, Northern Training and Consultancy Manager New Economics Foundation, London, 14/8/00 Alex McGillivray (by phone), 11/8/00 Review of documents, 14/8/00 DfID (Department for International Development), London, 14/8/00 Phil Evans, Senior Social Development Advisor Tom Beloe, Social Development Advisor Susan Loughead, Consultant, former Social Development Advisor Consultants Anne Coles, Consultant, formerly DfID Senior Social Development Advisor (in person), 3/8/00 Helen Derbyshire, DfID Consultant (by phone), 10/8/00 Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 8 Maryann Brocklesby, DfID Consultant (by phone), 15/8/00 Phone conversations with donor agency staff in other countries: Siobhan McCabe, Gender Focal Point, Irish Aid, 10/8 & 11/8/00 Susan Wadstein, Gender Focal Point, Sida (Swedish International Development Agency), 15/8/00 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA International Women’s Tribune Centre (IWTC), New York, 18/8/00 - 25/8/00 Anne Walker, Executive Director Vicki Semler United Nations, 18/8/00 Carolyn Hannan Andersson CARE, New York, 21/8/00 Elisa Martinez, Special Projects Officer Unifem, New York, 21/8/00, 22/8/00 Stephanie Urdang Jessica Humphries UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), New York, 22/8/00, 25/8/00 Aster Zaoude, Manager, Gender in Development Programme James Lang, UNDP Men‟s Group (by phone) UK Mission to the United Nations, New York, 23/8/00 Pat Holden AWID (Association for Women in Development), Washington, 29/8/00 Joanna Kerr, Executive Director InterAction, Washington, 30/8/00 - 6/9/00 Suzanne Kindervatter, Director, Commission on the Advancement of Women Patricia Morris, Deputy Director, Commission on the Advancement of Women World Bank, Washington, 30/8/00 Monica Fong, Gender Anchor Team, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Cecilia Valdivieso, Sector Manager, Gender and Development, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Mark Blackden, Africa Program Consultants, Washington Rani Parker, Gender and Development Specialist, 31/8/00 USAID (United States Agency for International Development), Washington, 1/9/00 Mary Knox, Acting Director, Gender Section WIDTECH (Women in Development Technical Assistance Project), Washington, Marcia Greenberg, 5/9/00 Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 9 4. TRENDS & CHALLENGES IN THE INSTITUTIONALISATION OF GENDER EQUALITY COMMITMENTS 4.1 “ We have arrived” : where? When asked to assess the extent to which donor agencies have institutionalised their commitments to gender equality, some gender advocates report that we have “turned a corner” in gender awareness: it is no longer necessary, they say, to argue why gender issues need to be addressed, but simply to explain how it should be done.1 Others say that gender issues and gender advocates now have “a place at the table”, or that gender advocates no longer need to “bang the table”, or “treat other development workers like children, because they know it all already”. In terms of a basic level of gender awareness, “we have arrived”. But exactly where have we arrived? We have an acceptance that gender issues must be on the agenda: after 25 years of advocacy and awareness-raising, including intensive advocacy associated with the Beijing United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women and its follow-up, many development workers recognise that gender issues are not going to disappear from the international development agenda. Donor agencies generally accept that gender issues must be addressed, and must be seen to be addressed, and gender mainstreaming is the favoured approach. At the same time, many gender advocates (often the same ones who made the comments above) will also assert just as strongly that this acceptance does not mean that there is widespread or institutionalised understanding of gender equality as essential for effective and sustainable development. This is arguably the case even in those bilateral agencies and NGOs renowned for the best publications, guidelines and approaches on gender and development. Lack of senior and middle management commitment, with gender equality being given a low organisational priority, continues to be a serious constraint, even in the most progressive agencies. Nor is there a wide understanding that addressing gender issues is about improving the development process in the interests of all members of communities. Are we now in an era of “political correctness” on gender mainstreaming in donor agencies, or have we arrived at a genuine, albeit superficial acceptance that there are real issues to be addressed? However we interpret the current era, the challenge ahead is how to use this acceptance or awareness as an opportunity: to deepen understanding of the importance of addressing gender issues for sustainable development outcomes for all; and to build capacity to deliver authentic gender mainstreaming outcomes. (Authentic mainstreaming is defined as an agenda-setting approach which: challenges current development agendas, by ensuring that both women‟s and men‟s needs and priorities determine development objectives; 1 This is a bit like “back to the future”, since there have always been advocates who have focused on technical approaches to gender, rather than on raising gender awareness, and addressing attitudinal opposition to women‟s empowerment and changed gender power relations. For example, see Juliet Hunt 1994 “Gender awareness training and tools to deal with attitude and affect” in Reflections and Learnings: Gender trainers workshop report Amsterdam, June 1993 Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam and the Population Council, New York; and Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay and Marguerite Appel 1998 “Gender training and social transformation: an agenda for change” in Gender training: the source book Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 10 ensures that women participate as decision makers (not just as beneficiaries or resources); and focuses on the empowerment of women and gender equality.2 4.2 Confusion about concepts, strategies and goals: where are we heading? One striking observation after visiting a number of donor agencies and some implementing NGOs is the serious lack of clarity surrounding terms such as gender, gender mainstreaming, gender equality and women‟s empowerment, and just as importantly, the relationship between all these terms. Many development workers (including some gender advocates in a few cases) are confused about what is a concept, what is a goal, and what is a strategy. For example, in its report to the Beijing + 5 meeting, DANIDA argues that mainstreaming is a strategy, and that gender equality and women‟s empowerment are goals.3 This contrasts with a United Nations pamphlet, also developed for Beijing + 5, which has a diagram showing women‟s empowerment and gender mainstreaming as two primary strategies for achieving the goal of gender equality.4 This reflects a common approach in some European donors to take a “twin track approach” to promoting gender equality, which focuses on both gender mainstreaming and separate funding for projects which promote women‟s empowerment. The “twin track” approach has the benefit of clearly recognising the value and the need for separate funding for women‟s groups to address gender power relations, and ensures that some much needed resources are available for such projects. This contrasts with the Australian situation, where the Women in Development Small Grants Scheme was abolished in 1996 in the name of mainstreaming. Without comparable figures from the Gender and Development markers from a range of bilateral donors, it is impossible to assess whether Australia‟s approach has resulted in less funding for programs specifically targeted at women‟s empowerment.5 While some AusAID country programs have excellent projects focused on women‟s rights and empowerment, other programs are very weak in this area. On the other hand, the concept of “twin tracks” has the potential weakness of reinforcing a fairly common view in the development industry that women‟s empowerment has little or nothing to do with gender mainstreaming. This is not just an exercise in semantics: understanding these terms, and how they relate to one another, is critical for agencies to make progress, and to know where they are heading. The reality appears to be that many development workers see gender mainstreaming as a goal in itself, but this is often a very watered down version of mainstreaming. Despite the rhetoric that most donors have now 2 Juliet Hunt 2000 “Gender Issues in Social Analysis: Course Notes” AusAID Training Course, 5 - 6 June: 17; and Rounaq Jahan 1995 The Elusive Agenda: Mainstreaming Women in Development Zed Books, London and New Jersey: 13. 3 Bonnie Keller, Anne-Lise Klausen and Stella Mukasa, 2000 “The Challenge of Working with Gender: Experiences from Danish-Ugandan development cooperation” Danish Contribution to Beijing + 5, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Danida: 8. 4 United Nations, no date (2000) Good Practices in Gender Mainstreaming and Implementing the Beijing Platform for Action. 5 AusAID data drawn from the Gender and Development markers indicates that 13% of those projects able to be assessed (only 40% of total ODA was able to be assessed in 1998/99) have gender equality as a principal objective of the program. This was a 47% increase over the previous financial year, but much of this increase is explained by substantial increases in NGO activities in particular regions. See AusAID (no date, 1999) “Gender and Development in Australia‟s Aid Program 1997/98 - 1998/99”: 3-6. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 11 about empowerment, many development workers (including some gender specialists) believe this is unachievable, as well as naive, particularly for the bulk of bilateral programming. Their pragmatic response is to work towards a limited, integrationist approach to mainstreaming, which does not challenge existing gender power relations, but which does seek to ensure that women are not further disadvantaged, and that their needs are taken into account in development programming. 4.3 Back to the future?: gender mainstreaming, the invisibility of women & gender expertise One “threat” from misguided approaches to gender mainstreaming is the tendency for gender issues and women to become invisible again. This is due to a misguided notion that mainstreaming means that it is no longer necessary to refer explicitly to women or men, their different needs and priorities, or the different impacts that programs may have on them. This potential return to gender blindness is reinforced by the belief in some quarters (referred to above) that we have already “arrived” in an era of gender awareness. Another trend evident in some agencies which relates to misinterpretations of mainstreaming is a backlash against gender expertise as a specialist area: development workers in key positions in both NGOs and bilateral agencies assert that gender analysis expertise is not “rocket science”, that we need to arrive at a point where gender analysis is seen as something that everyone can do, and that to do otherwise will be a step backwards to the marginalisation of gender issues. This backlash also seems to be linked in some cases to a perception of gender specialists or focal points as purveyors of “bad news”, or “whingers”. In some agencies, the likely result is that gender focal points will be abolished, downgraded, or further under-resourced. It is true that gender expertise does not need to be seen as akin to “rocket science”, beyond the reach of most development workers. Having all development workers accept their responsibility for ensuring that gender issues are properly addressed through the project cycle is a critically important strategy for mainstreaming. However, gender mainstreaming expertise within most donor agencies is still very weak. Specialist expertise is still essential to provide analytical and strategic support, and to clarify concepts and goals. Gender specialists are also needed to assist with the identification of strategies for linking empowerment and mainstreaming initiatives, and with monitoring. Building up a core group of sectoral specialists, who also have the capacity to apply a gender equality perspective, is a most important strategy for mainstreaming. Ensuring that community development and social analysis specialists always bring a knowledge of gender equality issues and strategies to the project cycle is equally important. Conversely, gender specialists must have excellent social analysis skills, and the ability to identify strategies for addressing gender issues across a range of different sectors. 4.4 Good practice on gender mainstreaming A number of agencies (DfID, Bridge, UNDP/Unifem) have recently set up or are about to set up best practice web sites, and many people I interviewed highlighted the importance of having more accessible case studies of successful gender mainstreaming initiatives. This seems to be partly a reaction against the view that gender focal points have been too negative in their focus in the past; partly a genuine desire to share experience, lessons and successful strategies; and an attempt at providing incentives for good practice. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 12 The UNDP/Unifem site provides some good examples of projects to promote gender mainstreaming, with a focus on training and the resourcing of national women‟s machineries. Case studies on the website highlight:6 The importance of dedicating adequate resources to gender mainstreaming. A number of project examples appear to be at least partly the result of a UNDP target encouraging country offices to dedicate 20% of funds to gender mainstreaming initiatives. Many of these aim to build the capacity of local women to engage in mainstreaming initiatives (both national women‟s machineries and local women‟s NGOs). The importance of ensuring that local non-government women’s organisations have access to long-term funding, particularly those which work on women‟s rights and social justice issues. These NGOs play a critical role in defining women‟s strategic interests. They are a source of local external pressure, holding both government and donor agencies to account for their performance on addressing gender equality. External resources and targeted capacity building are needed to sustain their work. The importance of the Beijing Platform For Action, and local action plans and commitments, as a motivating force for many gender mainstreaming projects. The UNDP web site has fulfilled its aim of demonstrating that gender mainstreaming projects can be effectively undertaken, by providing examples of specific projects working with women. Gender specialists will find the site interesting. However, generalist development workers would benefit much more if lessons or general principles for improving gender practice were distilled from the case studies. Unfortunately, it is true that most development workers have little time to read. Good practice web sites need to make learning and the sharing of experience as accessible as possible. Most of the projects on the UNDP site are targeted at women only, and focus on building their capacity to engage in mainstreaming. While there is a huge need for funding initiatives of this kind, there is also a need to demonstrate how to take another step: how to mainstream gender perspectives in “hard” sector areas such as infrastructure, environment-related programming or governance, where programs are targeted at both women and men in communities. It is very early days yet to assess the usefulness of the trend towards producing good practice case studies as a strategy for institutionalising gender equality commitments. Some gender advocates are very committed to this strategy, precisely because there is a still a great need to demonstrate what we mean by good gender practice, and how gender issues can be effectively and sustainably addressed in field programs. However, it remains to be seen who will use these sites, and how they can apply learning to gender mainstreaming in their own work. Past experience suggests that most good practice case studies are very “sanitised” by the time they reach publication, so that the most valuable lessons (what works and why, and what doesn‟t work and why) are edited out. It will be important to monitor who uses these sites, and if possible, how and whether they apply lessons to their work. If generalist development workers or sector specialists do visit these sites, they will be looking for strategies for program design and implementation, 6 See http://www.undp.org/gender/practices/. A number of other case studies on the UNDP site describe credit programs targeted at women, but for the most part they do not address the critical good practice issues raised in section 6 of this report. The Bridge and DfID sites are not set up and thus not able to be reviewed at the time of writing. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 13 or tips on how to address gender issues. Good practice lessons will be overlooked unless they are presented succinctly in an accessible and relevant format. One very important lesson to date appears to be that the process of searching for and developing good practice case studies (as long as it is participatory, so that staff are reflecting on what constitutes good practice) is just as important as the outcome of good practice case studies themselves. The ownership, commitment and awareness which arises from the search for good practice is possibly the most valuable outcome, and will have a direct effect on future programming. 4.5 More tools and better gender sensitive indicators There is still a hunger for tools and guidelines to assist with gender mainstreaming in many agencies.7 This is a little surprising, since there are already very many useful tools, some of which are accessible through the internet. It raises questions about whether tools and guidelines are packaged in a way which encourages them to be used by development workers; and about the motivation for wanting more or different tools. Generally, when people ask for a tool, they are asking for a clear guide or in some cases even a formula for how to properly address gender issues in different sectors and programs. For example, AusAID‟s Guide to Gender and Development has been criticised by some Australian consultants on the grounds that it only asks the questions, and does not provide the answers. This highlights the need for good practice examples which succinctly draw out successful strategies (accompanied by a warning that strategies are not automatically transferable without modification from one situation to another, and that they need to be trialed and modified according to the program context). One important lesson here appears to be that engaging in the process of producing tools (or developing indicators) is just as important as the tool itself, because being involved in such a process produces ownership, commitment and understanding. Past experience suggests that many tools gather dust on agency shelves. On the other hand, staff who are already committed to gender equality are the greatest users of tools, and it is important to adequately resource them. Nevertheless, the challenge which continues to face gender advocates is how to support and encourage development workers to seriously engage with gender concepts and tools, and to apply and modify them to their specific contexts. This highlights the importance of linking tools and guidelines as much as possible to established agency systems and procedures (see section 7.6 below). The need for good gender sensitive indicators is also often mentioned by development workers, particularly in bilateral agencies8, but there appear to be few training programs dedicated to developing gender sensitive monitoring skills. Possibly the problem here is as much to do with lack of understanding of monitoring principles and indicators themselves, as with the development of gender sensitive indicators. For example, a 1999 DAC workshop on evaluating gender equality and women‟s empowerment concluded that 7 For example, a recent DAC report also highlights this felt need: Working Party on Gender Equality 2000 “Review of Progress in the Implementation of the DAC High Level Policy Statement „Gender Equality: Moving Towards Sustainable, People-Centred Development‟, Note by the Bureau” Development Cooperation Directorate, Development Assistance Committee, OECD, DCD/DAC/GEN (2000) 1, 10 April. 8 The need for indicators is also emphasised in the DAC Working Party on Gender Equality report cited above, ibid. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 14 inadequate monitoring systems and indicators, along with poor definition of objectives and targets, are common weaknesses in program design, regardless of attention to gender issues. Where gender issues are monitored, there is bias towards inputs and activities, with little or no attention to the impacts on women or on gender relations.9 There also appears to be an expectation that gender sensitive indicators can be developed to suit all programs and projects, and that development workers can be “provided” with them, in much the same way that they are provided with tools. This is a nonsense: indicators should be developed collaboratively with stakeholders and beneficiaries in partner countries in a participatory fashion; they need to be developed with reference to specific program or project objectives; and they need to be linked to gender equality outcomes relevant to the sector, and a strategic assessment of what is possible to achieve in the social and cultural context. A shared understanding of gender equality and how this will be addressed in any program or project is essential for the development of realistic and attainable gender sensitive indicators. Linking indicators with gender equality outcomes is a much more difficult process if there is confusion about concepts, strategies and overall gender equality goals (see section 4.2 above). Of course, it is both possible and necessary to develop broad gender sensitive sectoral indicators, or macro-level outcome indicators and targets for women‟s empowerment (such as the elimination of gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005)10. However, analysis, reflection and participation are needed to unpack such broad indicators, so that they can be useful for monitoring specific programs and projects in different partner contexts. 4.6 Approaches to gender training Gender training in some of the agencies visited appears to be in something of a hiatus, as the emphasis of gender advocacy shifts from “why” to “how”. There is significant resistance in a number of agencies to training which focuses only on gender issues, and to mandatory training, with little apparent demand for gender training in most of the agencies visited. Perhaps this reflects the fact that some agencies have been over-reliant on training in the past, as a major strategy for institutionalisation. Training is only one of a number of potential strategies and by itself, may have little impact on overall program outcomes at agency level (although it may significantly improve the approaches of individual staff if the organisational context also supports good gender practice). Work undertaken by the Netherlands Gender and Development Training Centre, which focuses a great deal on in-depth training for gender advocates and focal points, is an exception to the picture painted above. Their work continues to focus on attitudinal as well as operational issues, with innovative approaches including individual mentoring of gender focal point staff in donor agencies. An evaluation of gender training by DfID concludes that training has had a positive impact on levels of gender awareness. The current demand in some agencies is for tailored training, with a very practical focus on how to operationalise policy commitments in 9 Bonnie Keller “Report on the DAC Workshop on Evaluating Gender Equality and Women‟s Empowerment, 25-26 November 1999, Stockholm, Sweden” Prepared for the DAC Working Party on Evaluation, April 2000. 10 This target is included in Shaping the 21st Century: The Contribution of Development Cooperation Adopted at the Thirty-fourth High Level Meeting of the DAC, 6-7 May 1996. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 15 different sectoral, country and program contexts. There was significant interest from some development workers in competency/skill based approaches to training, which have been used for some years by the author for training AusAID staff, contractors and NGOs. It remains important for donors to ensure that gender issues are included appropriately in all general training initiatives. The work of InterAction includes most good practice features, with training tailored to suit individual agency needs, highlighting links to daily work practice and agency systems, and an eclectic approach to gender and development methods and frameworks. AusAID has already applied many of these lessons in its basic 2-day course. AusAID‟s recent shift to shorter gender training courses poses significant challenges for further developing staff competence and focusing on the operationalisation of gender equality policy.11 Skill-building is very difficult to accomplish in a half day or one day course, unless there is already a shared understanding of gender equality concepts and a basic understanding of gender analysis methods. Future gender training initiatives need to be very specific about goals and expected outcomes: with shorter courses, there is a risk that training objectives may be set much too high. 4.7 Gender and diversity: threat or opportunity? Some gender advocates in donor NGOs see the linking of gender with other diversity issues as a threat, arguing that staff can do justice to neither if they are required to work on them simultaneously. Others argue that this is an opportunity, and that since gender is just one aspect of diversity, it makes sense for work on gender and other diversity issues to proceed hand-in-hand. There appears to be confusion among some staff in NGOs about how diversity issues such as race, ethnicity, sexual preference or disability should translate into program work in the field. Gender analysis is in fact a sub-set of social analysis. Gender analysis which does not address or recognise other aspects of diversity and their effect on power relations is a very poor example of gender analysis. Conversely, social analysis which does not disaggregate information and analysis by gender should be seen as both unprofessional and inadequate. A human rights based approach may offer promise for assisting gender advocates and development workers generally to identify the most disadvantaged and disempowered groups, and to articulate links between gender and other diversity issues and their impact at field level. 4.8 Mandatory systems, incentive-based approaches & good management practice Most of the agencies visited are debating the most appropriate mix of mandatory procedures and incentive based approaches to institutionalising gender equality commitments. Some agencies, such as the World Bank, rely on the discretion of individual staff to implement a broad policy commitment, with few effective systems in place and an extraordinary over-reliance on incentive based approaches. There can be no doubt that some mandatory systems are absolutely essential for effective mainstreaming. This should no longer be a matter for debate: unfortunately, it is an old lesson which is still not taken up by some agencies, including some otherwise progressive NGOs. Accountability 11 AusAID also intends to continue with its basic 2-day course, but this is mainly targeted at new graduates. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 16 systems, including effective program and project screening, appraisal and monitoring procedures are pre-requisites for making systematic progress on gender equality. Other agencies have had some mandatory systems in place for some time, and are now facing the serious challenge of how to develop effective incentive-based approaches to reduce “policy evaporation”. It is in this context that the current demand for good practice examples has arisen (see section 4.4). The implicit assumption is that staff will be better able to put policy into practice if they have examples of the type of product that is expected from gender sensitive program and project design. While this is important, such incentives should not be seen as a substitute for mandatory systems and good management practice. For example, leadership from senior and middle management is needed to ensure that gender mainstreaming action plans are developed with clear and measurable objectives, that achievable targets are set, and adequate resources are dedicated. These are good management practices which would apply to the implementation of any policy initiative. The need to include gender criteria in job descriptions and responsibilities was highlighted in a recent DAC review of policy implementation as an area where little progress has been made, along with competence development, accountability, management responsibility and adequate monitoring and reporting.12 None of the I agencies visited have systematically addressed the need to include specific responsibilities for implementing gender equality policy in job descriptions for staff or consultants. AusAID has included gender and development responsibilities into Terms of Reference for consultants on some projects, but there is currently no data on how systematically this occurs, or the impact that it has on project implementation. NZODA addresses these responsibilities in its pro-forma for Terms of Reference for consultants. USAID procurement procedures require that gender analysis is included in the selection criteria for consultants, and if this does not occur, it is necessary to justify why.13 Lack of attention to job descriptions reflects a general reluctance with mandatory or directive approaches. While some agencies realise that they cannot expect consultants to address gender issues seriously unless their contract requires it, it is taking much longer for this lesson to be applied to agency staff in recruitment (and performance appraisal) processes. Most agency staff would acknowledge the expectation they are responsible to implement agency gender policy, but this is not enough to ensure accountability. Specific responsibilities appropriate to different levels of seniority and position descriptions need to be identified.14 One cannot reasonably expect staff to undertake gender mainstreaming 12 DAC Working Party on Gender Equality 2000 op cit. 13 Hopefully AusAID‟s review of its gender policy will identify the extent to which gender issues are addressed in job descriptions and Terms of Reference for contractors, and assess the effectiveness of this strategy. In USAID, staff reported that there are already moves to water down the procurement initiatives described above, which were introduced in 1999. However, the arguments to water down the consideration of gender issues in procurement is more to do with opposition to directives coming from Washington, than with opposition to gender analysis per se. Information from AusAID and NZODA comes from a review of gender mainstreaming undertaken by the author in 1997/98, which is documented in internal documents: Juliet Hunt 1998 “Report on AusAID: Mainstreaming Gender Equality in Education” and Juliet Hunt 1998 “Report on New Zealand: Mainstreaming Gender Equality in Education” , Reports prepared for Sida for the OECD/DAC Expert Group on Women in Development. 14 A logical next step is then the identification of gender and development competencies relevant to the responsibilities identified for each position description, and the development of practical training programs to Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 17 tasks consistently and professionally unless the organisation requires this in its most basic management systems. Perhaps gender advocates and senior managers need to redefine what constitutes a “directive” or mandatory approach (which has negative connotations): surely systems to enhance accountability and adequate monitoring and reporting are simply good management practice. The agenda for the future should not be the development of incentive based approaches to take the place of good management practices or mandatory systems. The real challenge is how to engender understanding of, commitment to and ownership of policy, so that mandatory systems are seriously applied. This requires a collaborative and participatory approach, with clarity about gender equality goals and strategies, women‟s empowerment, and the role of mainstreaming (see also section 7.5 below). Reviews of the implementation of gender equality policy Four donor agencies are currently undertaking or are soon to undertake reviews of the implementation of their gender equality policies: the Department for International Development (DfID, UK), AusAID, the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and the World Bank. These reviews should build on what we already know about institutionalisation and policy evaporation, and assist with strategic planning for future implementation of gender mainstreaming. Although the Terms of Reference for these reviews have already been finalised, it is important that they explore the effectiveness of mandatory systems versus incentive-based approaches, at both organisational and program level. strengthen competence. This approach has been successfully trialed by the author with Community Aid Abroad / Oxfam Australia, using participatory workshops with program staff. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 18 5. GENDER AUDITING APPROACHES AND TOOLS 5.1 Summary of audit methods Most gender audit methods (in the UK, Netherlands and the USA) have been developed by NGOs and focus primarily on staff perceptions about gender practice. This contrasts with the approach developed with Community Aid Abroad / Oxfam Australia by the author, which focuses on three areas: staff perceptions of work on gender equality within the organisation and in overseas programs; a testing of these perceptions by auditing program and project documentation (program / project appraisals and proposals); and an audit of agency systems and guidelines. Much of the existing work on gender auditing in development agencies is still unpublished, and there are many lessons to be documented. The most significant lesson is the tendency for gender audit findings and reports to be shelved with little or no discussion or follow up, reducing their effectiveness as a strategy for institutional change. Gender auditing work undertaken by InterAction is an exception to this tendency, due to their highly collaborative / teamwork approach with member agencies, which requires commitment to a process of planning, reflection and action. (InterAction is the umbrella agency for USA NGOs. It has a Commission on the Advancement of Women with three full-time staff, and an effective organisational capacity-building program incorporating needs assessment, skill-building and technical assistance inputs. Gender auditing is one of a range of technical assistance and support inputs offered by InterAction‟s Commission on the Advancement of Women.) Only two development organisations have published gender audit methodologies, InterAction and Novib. These are described below, along with two other approaches. The audit methodology developed by the author for Community Aid Abroad / Oxfam Australia (CAA) is not described here, but was shared with many organisations during the Churchill Fellowship visit. While each organisation needs to find or modify a gender audit method to fit its own needs, it was clear that CAA‟s method is breaking some new ground in this field internationally. Many individuals and organisations were very keen to see it and get a copy of it. InterAction gender audit questionnaire, USA InterAction’s audit tool is highly recommended.15 It is a comprehensive questionnaire which elicits perceptions of staff or other stakeholders on gender work in the following areas: Programming - program planning and design; program implementation; technical expertise; monitoring and evaluation; and partner organisations. Organisation - gender policy; staffing (sex breakdown of agency staff); human resources (focusing on human resource policies and personnel management practices); advocacy, marketing and communications; financial resources; and organisational culture. 15 The Gender Audit: A Process for Organizational Self-Assessment and Action Planning Commission on the Advancement of Women, InterAction, Washington DC (no date, 2000). Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 19 The InterAction tool includes sound advice about how to prepare for the audit process with agency staff, how to conduct the audit with a representative sample of staff and stakeholders, how to present the gender audit questionnaire results, and on critical factors for ensuring that results are used in action planning to improve performance. Novib gender and diversity computer software, Netherlands The Organisational self audit on gender and diversity16 produced by Novib on computer diskette covers similar ground as the InterAction questionnaire, for those individuals or organisations who prefer a direct and interactive computer interface. The Novib tool includes the following areas in the questionnaire on gender: analysis and policy; monitoring and evaluation; staff make-up and recruitment; staff expertise; performance appraisal and incentive schemes; image and portrayal; cooperation and learning; existing pressure points in and outside the organisation; and investment in products. One strength of the Novib tool is that it also includes questionnaires on six other aspects of diversity: ethnic background, religion, age, sexual preference, physical abilities and social background. Along with gender, these questionnaires on diversity are seen in the Novib tool as seven “thermometers” on diversity, although the tool only requires that the questionnaire on gender and one other aspect of diversity be completed. A second set of questionnaires measures “potentials”, or five organisational variables critical for successful development and implementation of gender and diversity policies: pressure points; leadership and management styles; organisational culture; communication; and value orientation. The Novib self audit software advises that only one or two staff need to complete “thermometer” questionnaires, because these are seen as “objective” measurements of agency performance. However, it recommends that representatives from all stakeholder groups should answer questions on the “potentials” of the organisation to successfully address gender issues. The software presents results in terms of an “objective score” (high, middle or low performance), and provides an analysis and preliminary recommendations on how to improve performance. ACORD audit of annual reports, UK While ACORD has not published its audit tool or results, their method is worth mentioning here because it is the only one (apart from work undertaken in Australia with Community Aid Abroad) which draws on actual program documentation, rather than questionnaires focusing on staff perceptions. ACORD has undertaken two gender audits, based on Annual Reports from country programs for 1996 and 1998.17 Areas of focus include: type or sector of activity correlated with the sex of beneficiaries; an assessment of gender strategies used in aims, activities and impact of programs using Sarah Longwe‟s framework (welfare, access, conscientisation, participation and control)18; identification of target group (women, men or gender blind) according to each of the Longwe categories; whether programs had carried out any gender related research; staff responsibility for 16 Novib 2000, available on diskette from Irma van Dueren from Novib. 17 ACORD (no date, 2000) “Gender Audit of Programmes: Based on 1998 Annual Reports”; and ACORD 1998 “Gender Audit of ACORD Programmes: Based on 1996 Annual Reports”. 18 Candida March, Ines Smyth and Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay 1999 A Guide to Gender Analysis Frameworks Oxfam: 92 - 101. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 20 addressing gender issues; sex composition of staff; and the availability of sex disaggregated data. Gender and development training centre, Haarlem, Netherlands19 The Gender and Development Training Centre (G&DTC) in the Netherlands has trialed a gender audit approach with the Netherlands volunteer organisation, SNV. G&DTC‟s focus is on subjective, participatory and empowering tools which promote self assessment. Up to five or six different assessment methods are used with different teams/groups of SNV staff, according to need and circumstance, such as: a quality test (a questionnaire focusing on vision and knowledge; capability and attitude; use of existing tools and methods; and organisational culture and service delivery to clients); a knowledge and awareness test focusing on gender awareness knowledge and understanding of concepts; a stakeholder analysis; a classification of projects and programs by audit workshop participants; an assessment of organisational culture; mind mapping focusing on participants‟ perceptions of organisational decisions and strategies; visualisation of an ideal organisation; and an exercise focusing on perceptions of change. None of the tools described above have been published, or shared in unpublished form, so it is difficult to assess their potential for application to other agencies, or their effectiveness in meeting audit principles. 5.2 Reflections on issues & lessons raised by gender auditing By far the most important issue is the tendency for gender audits to be one-off exercises with few or no links to strategic planning to improve performance. Another issue raised by the variety of methods and approaches found is the need to reflect on and define what constitutes a gender audit, compared with an organisational assessment, strategic planning, review or mapping exercise.20 Some other issues and lessons raised by interviews with donor agency staff and by reviews of available (mostly unpublished) gender audit reports are21: The need to have a balance between participatory self-assessment by staff and stakeholders within the organisation, and external verification (through reference either to documentation, or to field work). This is particularly important where the major auditing method focuses on staff perceptions. While these are crucial for a sound and valid audit process, the author‟s experience is that perceptions do not always reflect reality when it comes to promoting gender issues, either at organisational or program level.22 Perceptions do need to be tested and challenged by using other audit methods. 19 This section is based on Hettie Walters 2000 “Participatory gender audit, evaluation of organisational performance: a process of self-assessment, learning and change” Paper prepared for INTRAC Conference on Monitoring and Evaluation of Empowerment, 4 - 9 April 2000, Oxford. 20 Oxfam Great Britain has undertaken a gender mapping exercise, reported in Links magazine, July 1998. ActionAid UK was considering a mapping exercise, and developing a methodology to suit its needs, at the time of my visit. 21 Acknowledgment is given here to Angela Hadjipateras from ACORD UK, with whom I discussed some of these lessons and issues. 22 This experience is not just confined to the author. One person interviewed, who conducted a gender audit for a major environment and development research organisation, commented on the significant gap between staff perceptions of their good performance on gender issues, and very little formal work to validate that perception. The same issue arose in the gender audit of an academic institution which focuses on development studies. Neither of these audits can be cited due to confidentiality constraints. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 21 The critical importance of having commitment to the audit process by management and other staff, so that there is some likelihood that findings will be digested and acted upon by the organisation. This is enhanced if staff and stakeholders are clear about the overall aim of the gender audit - why it is being done, and what type of follow-up is needed to meet accountability and performance improvement objectives. The need for a participatory approach is crucial, but so too is clarity about what is being measured or assessed, and why standards and indicators are needed for monitoring of progress. The need to have a well-trained audit team, with a shared understanding of gender and development concepts and benchmarks or standards to be used during the audit, whether they be external auditors or internal staff or a mix of both. This will enhance consistency in judgements about performance on gender issues, and is particularly important for the auditing of agency documentation or program outcomes in the field. (An audit team may include internal or external facilitators, and internal or external members of a reference group which oversees the audit process.) It is clear that different organisations will require different audit methods, to fit their organisational structure, their programs, and what is achievable politically. For example, a volunteer organisation which places donor country nationals overseas, and which implements few projects will have very different needs from a donor which designs and implements field programs, versus one which primarily provides institutional support to local partner organisations. The degree of power sharing between head office and field offices also needs to be considered. The strategic change agenda which currently faces the organisation is critical to take into account in choosing an audit methodology. This includes an assessment of current resistance or opposition to the promotion of gender equality within the organisation, as well as an assessment of the most likely areas where improvements will be possible in the short- term to medium-term. In some cases, even the use of the term “audit” may not be acceptable. It may not be possible to audit all activities of an organisation at the same time. A phased approach may be useful, taking into account time and resource constraints. Both the InterAction and Novib questionnaires dedicate a few questions to advocacy, communications and marketing/fundraising work. More effort needs to be given to developing audit tools and methods for these important areas of donor agency work. None of the audit methods reviewed have seriously addressed the need to seek the views of beneficiaries, who are the most important stakeholders in the development process. 5.3 Social auditing principles should be applied to gender auditing by development agencies It is interesting that this variety of gender audit methods has emerged, with little apparent reference to the experiences of other voluntary organisations with social audits generally. Development organisations planning to embark on gender auditing can learn many lessons from the experiences of InterAction in the USA, and from the social audit movement in the UK. According to the New Economics Foundation, the key principles23 of a social audit are: 23 These principles are adapted from: Ed Mayo 1996 Social Auditing for Voluntary Organisations New Economics Foundation and VOLPROF (Centre for Voluntary Sector and Not-for-Profit Management), London: vi; and Claudia Gonella, Alison Pilling, Simon Zadek and Virginia Terry (no date, 1998?) Making Values Count: Contemporary Experience in Social and Ethical Accounting, Auditing and Reporting, Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 22 1. Comprehensiveness or completeness - the inclusion, over time, of all appropriate areas of activity in the auditing process. 2. Comparability - a comparison of the organisation‟s performance with appropriate external benchmarks, with its own performance over time, and with the performance of other relevant organisations. 3. Inclusivity - including dialogue with all stakeholders on terms which allow them to voice their interests and concerns without fear, and participation of stakeholders so that it takes account of their views. 4. Regularity and evolution - the need to regularly audit, so that improvements in performance can be assessed, with audit methods evolving as needed. 5. Embeddedness - the incorporation of the audit process and findings into a strategic planning and management process, to ensure that results are incorporated into policy and practice changes as needed so that performance is improved. 6. Disclosure - appropriate and effective communication of audit findings to stakeholders, and to the public domain. 7. External verification - the need for an independent outsider (or facilitator) to verify that the audit represents a true and fair account. 8. Continuous improvement - steps need to be taken to improve performance in relation to organisational values, objectives, policies and practices. These are very useful principles which address many of the issues identified above, and should guide donor agencies in their selection of methods and processes for gender auditing. Gender auditing can be seen as a specific sub-set of social auditing, focusing on gender power relations and gender and development outcomes. These principles underscore the two major purposes of any audit processes: to assess accountability of agency work in relation to values, vision and policy to improve agency performance Executive Summary pamphlet produced by the New Economics Foundation, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, and the Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability, London. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 23 6. MICRO-FINANCE & WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT 6.1 Introduction This section summarises findings from the first 3 weeks of the Fellowship where the author visited local NGOs and their field programs in Bangladesh and India, accompanied by Nalini Kasynathan, Program Coordinator for Community Aid Abroad / Oxfam Australia. Visits to NGOs varied from 2 to 5 days. NGOs visited included: the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), Proshika, and Banchte Sheka24 in Bangladesh, and Nav Bharat Jagriti Kendra (NBJK) in India. The use of the word „reflections‟ indicates that findings need to be treated with due caution. Nevertheless, these findings are supported by research results reported in the literature on women‟s empowerment and credit. Findings are reported in full with references to relevant literature in an article “Pathways to empowerment?: Reflections on micro-finance and transformation in gender relations” which will be published in the March 2001 edition of Gender and Development (Oxfam Great Britain). 6.2 Summary of findings Micro-finance programmes for women are increasingly lauded by development agencies as an effective anti-poverty intervention, with a positive impact on economic growth and a range of social development indicators. High repayment rates are interpreted to mean that women are using loans productively, and controlling credit. It is widely assumed that there is a clear and direct relationship between access to credit and an increase in the status of women within their households and communities. In short, provision of credit is believed not only to alleviate poverty, but to lead to the empowerment of women. Our interviews with village women‟s groups and recent literature suggest that these assumptions needs to be seriously questioned. Our findings raise the following questions and issues. Access versus control of decision making, loan management and income from credit Who controls decision-making regarding the use of credit, who manages enterprises supported by credit, whose labour is used, who controls the marketing of products, and who keeps, decides on and uses any income generated? These questions are critical for understanding changes in gender relations and the contribution of micro-finance to women‟s empowerment. Our findings indicate that: Only a minority of women receiving credit from poverty-oriented25 micro-finance programs are controlling their loans. Many women are merely “postboxes” for loans: passing on the full amount of their loans directly to their husbands, sons, or sons-in- law, with little or no access to the income generated, and receiving back only enough money to make weekly loan repayments. In other cases, loan management and control within the family is more complex, with some women keeping part of their loans for 24 Our visit to Banchte Sheka was very short. The weaknesses of micro-finance programmes identified here do not relate to Banchte Sheka. 25 The term “poverty-oriented” refers to those programs which provide small “collateral-free” loans to women in credit groups (500 - 5,000 Taka in Bangladesh); compared with programs which provide larger loans, which may be linked to local banks (5,000 - 500,000 Taka), and which require either collateral based on property deeds or personal guarantees. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 24 their own enterprises, and passing on the remainder to men. Goetz and Sen Gupta found that, on average, only 37% of loans provided by four different Bangladeshi credit organisations were either fully or significantly controlled by women, where significant control does not include control over marketing, and may thus imply little control over the income generated.26 Our interviews with women‟s groups were based on very small sample, but they indicate that Goetz and Sen Gupta‟s research give a realistic assessment of the degree of control by women, compared with the findings of other researchers. Most of the organisations we visited were unable to validate their estimates of the number of loans controlled by women, or jointly controlled by women and men. Our findings and other documented research suggests that many fieldworkers may be over- estimating the extent to which women control their credit. Individual/personal factors which appear to increase the likelihood of a woman controlling her loan and the income generated from it are: absence of a husband (due to death, abandonment or long-term migration); and use of the loan for a „traditional‟ female activity, particularly where the woman is able to market her goods from home (such as paddy husking, sewing, selling milk or chicks). One of the key factors which constrains women in Bangladesh and India from taking control of loan use and profit is lack of access to the market for the purchase of inputs and for the sale of goods, particularly for non-traditional income-generating enterprises. However, some traditional female income-generating activities (such as paddy husking) yield extremely poor returns for labour, particularly where there is no technical assistance provided to assist women to increase their productivity. Very few agencies have evaluated their programmes from this critical perspective, despite the fact that some implementors target „traditional‟ women‟s activities as a way of encouraging higher levels of female control. Access and control over assets A review of the literature also raises serious questions about the extent to which women retain control over assets purchased as a result of credit, and the impact of micro-finance on poverty alleviation. Impact on daughters and sons: education and workload Daughters are more likely to be sent to school if mothers receive credit, than if fathers receive it, and many NGOs specifically target girls for their non-formal education programs. However, there are also indications that girls are withdrawn from school due to mothers‟ increased workloads related to credit enterprises.27 Given the very poor returns for women‟s labour for traditional women‟s income-generation activities, this is not at all surprising. NGOs do not appear to be collecting information on educational attainment, retention and transition rates from primary to secondary schooling for either the daughters or sons of 26 Considerable attention is given to this point in the forthcoming article (March 2001) by Juliet Hunt and Nalini Kasynathan in Gender and Development. See also Anne Marie Goetz and Rina Sen Gupta 1996 “Who Takes the Credit? Gender, Power, and Control Over Loan Use in Rural Credit Programmes in Bangladesh”, World Development, Vol. 24, No. 1: 45 - 63; Naila Kabeer 1998 „„Money Can‟t Buy Me Love?‟: Re- evaluating Gender, Credit and Empowerment in Rural Bangladesh‟, IDS Discussion Paper, No. 363; and Linda Mayoux 1998 „Participatory Learning for Women‟s Empowerment in Micro-Finance Programmes: Negotiating Complexity, Conflict and Change‟, IDS Bulletin, Vol. 29, No. 4: 39 - 50. 27 Naila Kabeer 1999 op cit. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 25 credit group members. Drop-out rates, including why and when girls drop out, are very important indicators of the impact of micro-credit on daughters. Donors and implementing agencies need to investigate the impact of micro-finance on labour demands for both girls and boys, and how this relates to male, female and joint control over loan use and income, and increases in women‟s workloads. Impact on marriage practices Many NGOs in Bangladesh make sweeping claims regarding the impact of micro-finance provision on the incidence of early marriage, polygamy, divorce and dowry. Only one of the NGOs we visited collects data regularly to test these assumptions. Their monitoring indicates that divorce and polygamy are both reducing among credit group members. Very little research has been undertaken on the impact of credit on dowry. However, anecdotal evidence is disturbing, suggesting that dowry prices may be rising due to women‟s increased access to credit, despite the fact that social development training on the detrimental impact of dowry is already being delivered by NGOs. Data-collection by one NGO indicates that the practice of early marriage for girls (before the legal minimum age) may be increasing, and that this may also be related to increasing levels of dowry. Impact on women’s mobility NGOs claim that women are increasingly „coming out‟ as a result of credit programmes. Our discussions with women‟s groups suggest that contextual factors such as extreme poverty and landlessness may be more strongly associated with increased mobility beyond the village than factors to do with credit programmes. Although NGOs appear to have had some success in supporting women to travel to NGO and local government offices, much more could be done to empower and support women to enter the marketplace. Violence against women Most NGO staff we met believe that providing credit to women helps to reduce violence, and one NGO collects data which supports this view. All the NGOs visited include some reference to violence and women‟s rights in their social development programmes, and some support women‟s groups to take up cases of violence with local authorities. However, existing research on the impact of credit programmes on violence paints an inconsistent picture at best. Of four studies undertaken, two show an increase in violence for women who have access to credit and two suggest that it may be reducing as economic prosperity in the household improves.28 Our discussions with NGO staff reveal insufficient appreciation of the complex relationships between credit and violence. For example, one fieldworker told us about a woman whose husband was beating her and threatening to ask for further dowry payments if she did not bring in more credit. The fieldworker‟s response was to provide a loan for the husband to purchase a rickshaw. One could argue that the credit-provider here was an alternative provider of „dowry‟. There were other examples like this, equally disturbing for 28 Goetz, A.M. and R. Sen Gupta 1996 op cit; Khan, M.R., Ahmed, S.M., Bhuiya, A. and Chowdhury, M. 1998 „Domestic Violence Against Women: Does Development Intervention Matter?‟ BRAC-ICDDR, B Joint Research Project, Dhaka; Kabeer, N. 1998 op cit; and Hussain, M. et al 1998 „Poverty Alleviation and Empowerment: An Impact Assessment Study of BRAC‟s Rural Development Programme (IAS-II)‟ Research and Evaluation Division, BRAC, Dhaka, cited in Khan, M.R., Ahmed, S.M., Bhuiya, A. and Chowdhury, M. 1998 „Domestic Violence Against Women: Does Development Intervention Matter?‟ unpublished paper, BRAC-ICDDR, B Joint Research Project, Dhaka. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 26 their lack of insight into the causes of violence. The assumption that credit, by itself, will lead to less violence is questionable and dangerous. Self-respect and self-worth During our discussions with women‟s groups, we tried to explore what women valued most about their membership in credit groups. All but one women‟s group (by far the poorest that we met) answered that they most valued the confidence, knowledge or training that they received. Many also mentioned the fact that they had access to credit, which enabled them to make a contribution to household finances, but for most groups this answer came second, after they had already talked about increased awareness. Some focused on their knowledge of law and rights, and others on the strength of being in a group, and feeling that they could now take action against something that they knew was wrong. Although our sample is very small, the difference between male and female answers to this question was striking. Men were more likely to focus on access to money as the most valuable thing which had come from women‟s credit groups. NGO staff also thought that men were more interested in material benefits. The way individual women respond to different programme inputs and strategies is highly complex, and depends on individual attributes as well as structural constraints and opportunities in the socio-cultural environment. Our observation was that some women need only a small opportunity to build their own pathway to empowerment. With access to credit and just a little knowledge and some group support, they are able to negotiate significant increases in power and decision-making within their households. We found that some women do feel that they have more respect, that they are listened to more, or that they have more “value” because they bring in credit. But for the majority of women, access to credit and minimal social awareness inputs simply is not enough. The question that we were left asking is what more can NGOs do to build on the good work that has already been done, to support women to transform unequal gender relations in their households and communities. Micro-finance: designed for the poor or poorest? Our overwhelming finding was that the largest micro-credit programmes - the ones that are being replicated internationally in the name of poverty alleviation - do not, and cannot, reach the poorest people. This raises very serious questions about donor rhetoric and appraisal processes. It is very clear that the poorest women either exclude themselves from credit groups, because they know that they will never be able to meet weekly inflexible repayment rates at 10 - 15% interest, or they are excluded by group members, for the same reason. With 15% of households headed by women in rural Bangladesh, and 25% among the landless, it is remarkable that NGOs are not reporting on this aspect of group membership, and few donors are requiring this type of monitoring. Yet women-headed families are most likely to be among the very poorest in the community. While this exclusion of the poorest is acknowledged in some research, it is rarely openly acknowledged by NGO staff and donors. One notable exception here is Banchte Sheka, an NGO located in Jessore in the north of Bangladesh, which has different loan packages designed to meet the needs of women from different socio-economic groups, including interest-free loans, group loans, loans at 5% interest rates, and loans with long grace periods before repayments are due, with women graduating to market rates once they have received enough training and gained enough regular income to be able to repay. Donor Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 27 agencies have a clear obligation to investigate the impact of micro-finance on the poorest families, and implementers need to acknowledge that one micro-finance package cannot possibly meet the needs of all rural poor. 6.3 Strategies to support women’s empowerment & transformation in gender relations Our observations suggest that the following programme factors will increase the likelihood of a woman controlling her loan and the income generated from it: Understanding of gender issues and women‟s rights by the NGO fieldworker, and a commitment to equality for women. Close monitoring by the NGO of different aspects of control over credit and other aspects of empowerment (as in the case of Proshika). Clear messages from the NGO regarding the importance of women having some control over decision-making, loan use and ownership of any income and assets generated (as in the case of Banchte Sheka). While most NGOs have social development training inputs integrated with their loan packages, what appears to be needed are very strong group and popular education methods which promote women controlling loans, and emphasise women‟s rights within the household and community. Technical training inputs which support women to manage and use the loan themselves, and which focus on increasing the productivity of women‟s labour. Other programme strategies worthy of further investigation include: Training in marketing, and/or improving access to markets, including investigation of group marketing initiatives by women. More investment in activities which assist to change men‟s attitudes to women. Using female versus male fieldworkers. Although some organisations visited have a clear commitment to increasing the numbers of female staff and their seniority, female fieldworkers are still in a minority, and there appears to be little or no debate on how this affects work with women‟s groups.29 6.4 Conclusions Donors and implementing agencies need to significantly improve the design and monitoring of micro-finance programmes, to ensure that they support the empowerment of women. Development agencies need to acknowledge that micro-finance does not directly or automatically lead to women‟s empowerment and gender transformation. More reflection and documentation is needed on pathways to empowerment, and on specific program strategies which assist women to take greater control of decision-making and life choices. Micro-finance must be re-assessed in the light of evidence that the poorest families and the poorest women are not able to access credit. A range of micro-finance packages are required to meet the needs of both the poorest women and men. 29 This contrasts with a Bangladesh project included on UNDP‟s good gender practice web site which reports that recruiting and training women project staff has proved effective, due to strong sex segregation pressures in Bangladeshi society. See case study on “Bangladesh: Poverty alleviation in Kishoreganj” at http://www.sdnp.undp.org/ Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 28 7. LESSONS ON INSTITUTIONALISING GENDER EQUALITY COMMITMENTS & POLICY EVAPORATION 7.1 Documented lessons about key strategic factors for promoting gender equality need to be systematically applied by donor & implementing agencies Many critical factors essential for promoting gender equality in development organisations and their programs have already been documented.30 What became very clear during visits to a number of agencies is that many of the lessons on institutionalising gender equality commitments have not been learned, and are still not applied. Major strategic factors which are needed at organisational level are outlined below. Organisations which have addressed a number of these factors are far more likely to have made significant progress: A clear and accepted organisational mandate to promote gender equality within the organisation and in field programs. A policy which has clear commitments to gender equality, which is owned and understood by key stakeholders, and which has systems in place to ensure accountability (such as regular review and/or audit procedures and reporting requirements, which are generally still very weak). Demonstrated organisational commitment to gender equality, particularly at senior and middle management level, with evidence that the organisation “walks it talk” both publicly and privately, at organisational level as well as in field programs. An organisational structure which provides adequate authority and resources to staff responsible for gender mainstreaming at organisational and programming levels. Procedures and systems which ensure that gender issues are addressed properly and professionally at all critical points in programs, projects and activities (including systematic screening, regular monitoring, review and reporting processes which assess the impact of activities on women, men and gender relations; adequate sex disaggregation of information; and evidence of a focus on both practical needs and strategic interests). A learning organisation approach, which implies systems and processes for sharing lessons (and an organisational openness to learning), recognition of good practice, and the provision of relevant and practical non-formal and formal training activities. Good personnel management practices which support the promotion of gender equality at the organisational level. An organisational culture which supports the promotion of gender equality and which values diversity. A capacity to build on or utilise positive features in the organisational context and environment which promote women‟s rights and gender equality. 7.2 Government agencies and NGOs face common constraints and draw on similar strategies for promoting gender equality In general, the lessons, constraints, trends and strategies for successful institutionalisation and mainstreaming of gender equality commitments are common for bilateral donors and both donor and local implementing NGOs, although they need to be modified to fit different organisational contexts and structures. Very similar issues are arising in 30 Points in this section are summarised from Juliet Hunt 2000 “Understanding Gender Equality in Organisations: A Tool for Assessment and Action” in Development Bulletin, 51, March: 73 - 76. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 29 Government agencies and donor NGOs, despite a history in some cases of rhetoric or myth about NGOs being better at addressing gender issues, involving women and promoting gender equality. “Policy evaporation” is an issue for most development agencies, including large local NGOs.31 7.3 Having a gender sensitive implementing organisation does not guarantee successful strategies or outcomes on gender equality in field programs A gender sensitive organisation is defined here as one that addresses all or most of the criteria noted in section 7.1 above, such as a clear gender and development policy, good personnel employment and management practices, a demonstrated commitment to increasing the numbers of women staff and their seniority, and good or even ground- breaking publications on gender issues. For donor organisations (both Government and non-government), the gap between policy rhetoric on gender equality and practice is a truism, and has come to be known as “policy evaporation”. However, when we think of local NGOs implementing programs in the field, there is a greater tendency to assume that a gender sensitive organisation will automatically have better gender equality outcomes in their fieldwork. This is not necessarily so for NGOs, whether or not they have a significant proportion of female employees in key senior or fieldwork positions. (I am not referring to women‟s organisations here, which have been set up specifically to work for and with women to meet their needs and promote their rights.) For example, Novib, the Oxfam agency in the Netherlands, believes that having a critical mass of women in senior decision making positions of the organisation is a key indicator for good gender practice.32 This is certainly true of Novib itself, and is a worthy aim for its own sake, since women have a right to occupy decision making positions and to express their interests at that level. However, there is little evidence of a clear link between women in decision making positions in donor and implementing organisations, and good gender practice in fieldwork, nor that this factor by itself will improve program performance. Not surprisingly, the reasons for policy evaporation in NGO implementation at field level are similar to those which apply to large bilateral donor organisations far from the field, and are due to some of the trends noted in section 4 above, such as: Confusion regarding concepts, vision and objectives for gender equality, what this really means in practice, and how this relates to empowerment. Lack of clarity about the difference between concepts such as access versus control, targeting women versus empowering women, and addressing practical needs versus strategic interests, contributes to policy evaporation at field level, along with poor gender analysis skills. Lack of gender sensitive monitoring of program impacts remains a serious constraint at field level. For example, in the case of micro-finance programs visited, strongly held assumptions about the positive empowerment impacts of credit on women are simply not being monitored or questioned by NGO staff. 31 With the possible exception of women‟s agencies dedicated to promoting gender equality (not included in this study). 32 Novib 1997 More power, less poverty: Novib‟s gender and development policy until 2000: 9. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 30 The critical importance of participatory and people-centred approaches to program design, implementation and monitoring, which provide authentic opportunities for both women and men to express their views on development impacts and to be involved in decision making.33 Methods for working with organisations on addressing gender issues need to challenge staff to move beyond their assumptions about the impact of their programs. They also need to facilitate staff to move from talking about gender relations within their organisation, to gender relations in target communities and the impact of development programs on gender relations. The link between gender sensitivity at organisational level and good gender equality outcomes in field programs is certainly not automatic: specific strategies are needed to assist staff to transfer and apply insights to their field work. One critical implication of this is the need for donor agencies to assess partner organisational capacity for addressing gender issues and promoting gender equality, and to build strategies for strengthening this capacity into mainstream project design and implementation. This is essential for preventing policy evaporation, along with aid delivery processes which ensure a collaborative and participatory approach to design and implementation, which enhance commitment and ownership of gender equality objectives and strategies (see sections 7.4 and 7.5 below). 7.4 “ Commitment from below” is as important as commitment from above The need for senior and middle management commitment has been acknowledged for some years now as an essential element for achieving progress on institutionalising gender equality commitments. This leadership remains an essential pre-requisite for ensuring that adequate resources are available for work on addressing gender issues, and for agency systems and procedures to demand accountability to gender equality policies. The importance of “commitment from below”, particularly at field level, has been less well articulated, but it is very clear that it is just as important as commitment from above. (Both are needed in good measure to achieve real and sustained progress.) Field-level development workers are de facto policy makers, whose decisions and attitudes have a powerful impact on whether or not programs challenge gender relations and facilitate the empowerment of women.34 Historically in Australia, gender policy created space for committed individuals to address gender issues (as distinct from policy being seen as a mandatory requirement). The history of progress on addressing gender equality in AusAID is largely a history of individual effort from below, which coalesces at times of opportunity when the agency has taken a leap forward in institutional commitment. In the current era, much more attention needs to be given to how to engender commitment from below to authentic gender mainstreaming. This applies equally to staff in donor agencies, and development workers in implementing agencies. Commitment remains 33 The importance of these last 2 points is also highlighted in 2 recent DAC reports: Bonnie Keller 2000 op cit; and DAC Working Party on Gender Equality 2000 op cit. 34 See Anne Marie Goetz, 1996 “Local Heroes: Patterns of Field Worker Discretion in Implementing GAD Policy in Bangladesh” IDS Discussion Paper 358, December, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 31 essential for success at addressing gender issues at both organisational and field levels (see also 7.5 below). 7.5 Collaboration with key stakeholders is essential to make progress at organisational and field level This is a lesson which has been noted by Unifem some years ago in relation to field level outcomes35. Much more attention is needed to ensure that it is applied, by both bilateral agencies and NGOs, at all levels. There will be very little sustainable progress on work to promote gender equality without authentic participation and collaboration. While this may seem blindingly self-evident, it is a lesson which continues to be either ignored or overlooked in practice. Collaboration on gender equality strategies and in defining desired outcomes is closely linked to the need for commitment at all levels. Collaboration needs to take place at a number of strategic points across an agency, including senior management (to ensure adequate resourcing, overall support and accountability), and all stakeholders who are expected to address gender issues or promote gender equality in their work. This collaboration also needs to extend to male and female community leaders in the field. A number of gender advocates within donor agencies are struggling with the issue of incentive, or “how to get development workers to buy in” to gender and development approaches. Collaboration is a key to meeting this challenge. Participation by stakeholders is essential for achieving ownership, whether the final outcome is a gender analysis tool to be used across an agency, the development of a good practice web site, or the development of project strategies for addressing constraints to men‟s and women‟s participation. The process of working collaboratively engenders commitment and ownership which is often just as important as the short-term outcome. Commitment, collaboration and participation are the key ingredients in the mix: without them, the gender equality cake will not rise, and will not be palatable, no matter how many tools, guidelines, policies or procedures are added to enhance the flavour. It is very important to link gender issues to what people are already interested in or committed to in their development work. For example: In some multilateral agencies, empirical evidence of the importance of working on gender issues to ensure cost-effective outcomes is critical. In its work with USAID, the WIDTECH project (based at the International Centre for Research on Women) focuses on a Vice-Presidential initiative which requires the agency to clearly demonstrate results. Linking gender issues with results-based approaches to development and management is a key strategy which could be usefully applied by other bilateral and multilateral agencies. The Commission on the Advancement of Women (CAW) at InterAction (the American Council for Voluntary International Action, the umbrella agency for US NGOs) focuses on member agencies‟ own value sets, linking gender equality commitments to their existing social justice missions. All these examples highlight the importance of the community development principle of “starting where people are”, and of building from there. It follows that a “learning 35 Joanne Sandler 1997 Unifem‟s Experiences in Mainstreaming for Gender Equality Presented to the UNICEF Meeting of Gender Focal Points 5 - 9 May. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 32 organisation” will be much better placed to respond to participatory and collaborative strategies than one which is not open to self-criticism, the sharing of experience, and learning from both good practice and less successful programs. Conversely, organisations which are generally badly managed, which have poor communication channels, and which do not encourage learning, will inevitably make slow progress on addressing gender issues effectively (as well as a range of other issues critical for improving development outcomes). 7.6 Demonstrate how addressing gender equality assists development workers to do their existing jobs more effectively Most donor agency staff work in a context where there are increasing and competing demands on their time, to understand and apply insights from a whole range of cross- cutting issues. An effective strategy which has not been highlighted enough in the literature to date is to demonstrate how addressing gender issues assists development workers to do their current job, but more effectively, more professionally and with better outcomes. This lesson is closely linked to the need for a collaborative, participatory approach as noted above: one cannot use this entry point for advancing gender equality without an accurate understanding of daily work tasks (regardless of whether one is working at an organisational or project level). This is an evolutionary or “step by step” approach, and informs CAW‟s effective work with InterAction member agencies. This strategy has significant implications for gender training approaches, and for the development of tools and guidelines. It is a mainstreaming approach: start with the systems, guidelines and work responsibilities which agencies already have in place, and improve attention to gender equality issues within these. 7.7 Gender advocates & focal points need good strategic planning and advocacy skills, in addition to gender analysis skills It was not my intention to document lessons on the skills needed by gender focal points in donor agencies. However, it was a recurring theme in so many of the agencies visited, that reflection on this point was unavoidable. Gender advocates tasked with institutionalising agency commitments to gender equality clearly need to have good gender analysis skills and need to be effective resource people to assist others to mainstream gender perspectives in their work. (There is nothing new in this lesson.) However, the ability to set a benchmark or standard for quality and quantity of gender analysis in program documentation and implementation is still very weak in many agencies. So is reflection on the need to have a balance within programs on activities that address practical needs as well as strategic gender interests. “How much is enough?” is not yet a question which is widely posed in donor agencies, but there are many signs that this is on the horizon. Gender advocates need to be ready to answer this question. They will need to be highly skilled in justifying why more or better gender analysis, or more attention to promoting gender equality, is needed (within a project, or an organisation). This will be particularly important in agencies where there is a pervasive view that we have already arrived at a satisfactory level of gender awareness and acceptance of the importance of this issue. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 33 We have also known for some time that gender advocates and focal points need to have good advocacy and negotiation skills. These skills are just as important, possibly even more important, than gender analysis skills. Some agencies have sad histories of work on gender equality coming to a full stop or a slow crawl when gender focal points become marginalised from the mainstream of the agency, or from internal and external allies for gender equality. Gender advocates must be skilled change agents and entrepreneurs within their organisations. This requires facilitation skills, the ability to “lead from behind”, the ability to collaborate and network effectively, the ability to engender ownership of vision, objectives and strategies with the most unlikely allies, and to support those with passion and commitment within an agency to advance their work on addressing gender issues at organisational or program level. Strategic assessment and planning skills are also needed. Gender advocates need to be able to “work the organisation”, to see opportunities in the waves of fad and fashion on the development horizon, and catch those waves in. (One opportunity that is being under-utilised in some agencies is the international commitment to addressing poverty, which has huge potential for advancing work on gender equality.) 7.8 External and internal pressure is critical for achieving progress This is an old lesson which plays out in different ways in different institutional contexts, but its importance was reinforced by visits to donor and implementing agencies. For bilateral agencies, the importance of a strong external community demanding good performance is very important to achieve ongoing progress. However, many donor NGOs (who could or should be a significant part of this external community for bilateral agencies) live in glass houses on gender issues, or cannot consistently demonstrate their own claims of good performance due to poor documentation and/or poor monitoring. Parliamentary committees and local women‟s organisations in the donor country have been important sources of support and lobbying in different contexts. For donor NGOs, demands made by bilateral agencies who provide funding for some or all of their programs are one potential source of external pressure to improve performance, but appealing to social justice concerns appears to be a stronger motivation. The role of internal pressure groups is critical in facilitating donor NGOs to compare their practice with agency rhetoric. For multilateral agencies, it is the bilateral donors who can bring significant pressure to bear to improve performance. For all development agencies, particularly NGOs and other implementing agencies at field level, the importance of empowering women is critical and cannot be over-emphasised. Building the capacity of local women to engage in development planning and programming processes, and to play a role in setting the development agenda with their governments and with development agencies is essential for authentic mainstreaming. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 34 8. CONCLUSIONS 8.1 Major conclusions Principles and strategies for institutionalisation need to be systematically applied The overwhelming conclusion is that we already have a range of principles and strategies for working with organisations to enhance the institutionalisation of gender equality commitments, many of which are documented or referred to in this report. The real challenge, even in the most progressive agencies, is to apply these strategies and lessons, consistently and systematically. Collaboration, participation and commitment are essential Policy, leadership, procedures, tools, good practice examples and other incentives remain essential: to set the mandatory framework for gender mainstreaming, and to encourage skill development. However, these key organisational strategies only come to life when staff actively engage in the process of addressing gender equality issues. This lesson applies equally to organisational development and to field programs. Aid delivery processes which ensure a collaborative and participatory approach to design and implementation are essential, to enhance commitment and ownership of gender equality objectives and strategies. Agencies need to work on many fronts at once Another key lesson is the importance of working on a number of fronts at once. A sole focus on any single strategy for institutionalisation, such as training, indicators, incentives, mandatory screening or reporting systems is unlikely, by itself, to yield significant improvements in agency performance. However, almost any such strategy, even if it is pursued in isolation, can be used by committed individuals to create space for addressing gender issues and result in good gender practice. Agencies make incremental progress on institutionalisation unless there is a synergy of effort produced by working on many fronts at once. Organisational assessment, strategic planning and management are needed Organisational assessment, strategic planning and management approaches and skills are essential for identifying the most appropriate mix of strategies to advance gender equality commitments. Good management practices are also essential for significant progress to be made, as with any other development policy initiative. This applies to both donor and implementing agencies. Assessment of partner organisational capacity for addressing gender issues and promoting gender equality, and the development of strategies for strengthening this capacity in mainstream project design and implementation, are critical for preventing policy evaporation in both government donor agencies and NGOs.36 Gender training should be tailored to specific organisational, sectoral & program needs Gender training initiatives should draw on the significant literature of lessons learned in this area, including the need to make training as appropriate and relevant as possible to daily work tasks. In Australia, contracting companies and NGOs would be best served by training tailored to their specific organisational needs, taking into account agency 36 This recommendation only applies to those agencies who work with partner agencies overseas (either members of their agency “family” or local partner agencies, including both government and non-government organisations). Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 35 structures, programs and sectoral focus. One-to-one and team mentoring and workshopping should also be considered, focused on specific and identified work tasks.37 Within AusAID, the challenge to focus more on operationalising gender policy is probably best met also by tailored training workshops focused on specific country programs and sectors, and on basic project management tools and approaches such as the logframe, risk assessment and management process, and approaches to monitoring and evaluation. It is very important to work with training participants‟ own projects and programs. For example, training outcomes are enhanced if participants bring their own current projects to analyse and review, rather than using case studies from which they have to extrapolate relevant lessons. 8.2 Dissemination of findings A number of steps have already been taken to disseminate findings from the fellowship. These include: Preparation of an article titled “Pathways to empowerment?: Reflections on micro- finance and transformation in gender relations” to be published in the March 2001 edition of Gender and Development, the journal of Oxfam Great Britain. This details findings on micro-finance programs in Bangladesh and India, and includes a comprehensive review of the literature on this topic. A draft of this article was shared with CAA and AusAID staff, and used as the basis for a seminar on this topic at AusAID in December 2000. Individual briefings on major trends and challenges for the institutionalisation of gender equality commitments were held in September and October 2000 with staff from AusAID, International Women‟s Development Agency, Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA), Community Aid Abroad; Fiji Women‟s Crisis Centre and Vanuatu Women‟s Centre. Some of these briefings were undertaken by phone, and some were in person. Three seminars were held in December 2000.38 One was hosted by Community Aid Abroad / Oxfam Australia (CAA) in Melbourne, and was attended by about 11 staff (including two men) from both CAA and the International Women‟s Development Agency (IWDA). The Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA) network was used to invite people to attend from a range of development NGOs. This resulted in a number of inquiries for copies of this report, particularly from people outside of Melbourne who could not attend the seminar. Two seminars were hosted by AusAID and held in Canberra. One focused on general findings from the fellowship, including trends, challenges and lessons for institutionalisation. This seminar was attended by about 30 to 40 people, mostly women. While most participants were from AusAID, some NGO staff and consultants also attended. A draft of sections 4 and 7 of this report was circulated to all participants. There was a good discussion with many questions and some areas of debate. The second AusAID seminar focused on findings related to micro-finance programs. This promoted a very lively debate, and was attended by about 12 staff who currently work on micro-finance programs in AusAID (about equal 37 These methods have been used in the author‟s work with Community Aid Abroad / Oxfam Australia. 38 Many thanks to Rezina Yasmin from Community Aid Abroad and Rosemary Cassidy from AusAID for hosting and organising these seminars. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 36 numbers of women and men). All participants received a draft of the article on micro-finance mentioned above. Findings have already been integrated into the author’s own work, particularly gender training, gender auditing, and ongoing work on the institutionalisation of gender equality commitments. Further steps will be taken to disseminate findings, including: Dissemination of this report to all the agencies visited overseas, to selected Australian NGOs (such as ACFOA, CAA and IWDA); to selected Australian consultant companies and overseas consultants interviewed during the fellowship trip; to individuals who have requested copies of the report; and to AusAID. Copies of this report will be sent by email to all the above in February 2001. Possible publication of an article or booklet reviewing gender audit methods, by mid 2001. Possible publication of a summary of major findings in an Australian development studies journal, if there is interest in this from the editors, by mid 2001. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs. 37 9. RECOMMENDATIONS 9.1 Recommendations on the institutionalisation of gender equality commitments in Australian donor agencies 1. Lessons already learned about effective strategies and principles for institutionalisation of gender equality commitments need to be systematically applied by all Australian donor agencies (both AusAID and NGOs). 2. A number of donor NGOs in Australia would benefit from a strategic planning and management approach to improving their work on gender equality, including participatory organisational assessment, the development of an action plan with measurable targets, review or auditing of work to address gender issues, and training tailored for specific organisations. 3. The findings of AusAID’s current review of the implementation of gender policy should be published, so that constraints, strategies and lessons can be shared with the development community in Australia and internationally. Staff resources dedicated to gender mainstreaming also should be assessed, with consideration given to increasing the number of gender advisers from one to two. 4. Gender auditing to be undertaken by ACFOA and its member NGOs in Australia should take into account the lessons learned on gender auditing noted in this report, including the experience of InterAction (USA) and Community Aid Abroad / Oxfam Australia (CAA). Gender auditing methods need to be adapted to fit the structure of the organisation and the nature of its programs. 5. Community Aid Abroad / Oxfam Australia (CAA) should publish its gender audit tool, and share this widely, since this approach to gender auditing does not appear to have been trialed elsewhere. 9.2 Recommendations on micro-finance programs 6. Agencies supporting micro-finance programs need to assess the quality of project design and monitoring, to ensure that: Claims regarding the impact of micro-finance on women‟s empowerment and other social development outcomes can be adequately investigated or substantiated. Program strategies for the empowerment of women are assessed, trialed and documented, so that design and implementation can be improved. Micro-finance packages are designed to meet the needs of both the poor and the poorest, particularly women-headed households. Juliet Hunt, Churchill Fellow 2000: Institutionalising gender equality commitments in development organisations & programs.