Brief Issue Paper on Mutual Acco

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                   HIGH LEVEL FORUM 3 – ACCRA 2008

                          BRIEF ISSUE PAPER ON

1. Introduction
The 3rd High Level Forum that will take place in Accra in September 2008 will have 9
Round Tables (RT), providing space for in-depth dialogue on selected topics. This Issue
Paper was prepared by a group of women’s rights organisations: WIDE, AWID, DAWN,
and FEMNET1, to give inputs on mutual accountability and gender equality for the
preparations of RT5 “strengthening mutual accountability”.
This document provides a brief review of some of the concerns highlighted by women’s
rights organisations related to the implementation of the Paris Declaration Principle on
Mutual Accountability. It also introduces proposals to promote further mutual
accountability towards gender equality and women’s empowerment and presents a list
of possible speakers to be considered in the design of the RT5.
According to the Terms of Reference (ToRs) proposed by the Co-chairs2, the RT5 on
“strengthening mutual accountability” will tackle:
     What is mutual accountability, and why does it matter?
     Implications of the monitoring and evaluation studies of the Paris Declaration;
     Country level systems for mutual accountability;
     The role of civil society organisations (CSOs) in mutual accountability;
     International systems of mutual accountability;
     Mutual accountability in a cross cutting issue: Gender;
     Capacity requirements to exercise mutual accountability;
     What recourse does a partner country have if a donor does not honour a

The ToRs of the RT 5 provide a very good base to prepare the discussions, following
the Generic ToRs for the Roundtables3 in integrating the so-called cross-cutting issues4.
We strongly suggest to adopt the proposals put forward at the Dublin + 1 Workshop to
substitute the term ”cross-cutting issue” by ”policy priority issue” or ”central goals to
development”, as the continued use of the term ”cross-cutting” perpetuates their
marginalisation5. Environmental sustainability, gender equality and human rights are
not a parallel debate of aid and development policies, but central development goals6.

The following sections aim at identifying key bottlenecks and lessons learnt as well as
principles and good practice elements from a gender equality analysis and women’s
empowerment perspective.

  This paper was coordinated by Nerea Craviotto and Suvi Kilpeläinen (WIDE), with inputs from Cecilia Alemany and Fernanda
Hopenhaym (AWID), DAWN and FEMNET.
  OECD DCD/DAC/EFF(2008)2, p. 29.
  OECD Roundtables Generic Terms of Reference, December 17, 2007.
  GENDERNET organized a first workshop to discuss the so-called cross-cutting issues in Dublin in 2007 and this
meeting was a turning point on the so-called cross-cutting issues discussion. The key messages from the Dublin
workshop were: Gender equality, human rights and environmental sustainability: are fundamental cornerstones for
achieving good development results; can be advanced through implementing the principles and partnership
commitments of the Paris Declaration; and must be harnessed to advance the implementation of the Paris Declaration.
In 2008, DFID and Gendernet followed this initiative in the Dublin + 1 workshop, on March 12 and 13 in London.
  Irish Aid, Joint Assistance Strategies Brief.
   See the Recommendations from the International Consultation of Women’s Organisations and Networks and Aid
Effectiveness organized by the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) and WIDE in Ottawa at the end
of January 2008. Download from: ( or

2. What does mutual accountability mean?

Stated in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, “mutual accountability means that donors and
partners are accountable for development results” in a variety of ways. Partner countries undertook
to strengthen the parliamentary role in national development strategies and/or budgets and to
reinforce participatory approaches by systematically involving a broad range of development
partners when formulating and assessing progress in implementing national development
strategies broad participation in development planning and implementation. Donors undertook to
provide timely, transparent and comprehensive information on aid flows, in order to enable partner
authorities to present comprehensive budget reports to their constituencies. Both agreed jointly to
assess through existing and increasingly objective country level mechanisms mutual progress in
implementing agreed commitments on aid effectiveness, including ownership, alignment,
harmonisation and managing for results.

Indicator 12 measures success in achieving mutual accountability as the “number of partner
countries that undertake mutual assessments of progress in implementing agreed commitments on
aid effectiveness including those in this Declaration” with target for 2010, that implies that “all
partner countries have mutual assessments reviews in place” (Paris Declaration 8, 10). However,
with its exclusive emphasis on partner countries, does not fully capture the balance which mutual
accountability implies (Roundtable 5).

3. Challenges for the implementation of the Mutual Accountability principle from a gender
equality and women’s empowerment perspective.

Challenge 1: Accountability is the basis for effective aid, and should be based on rights.

Civil society organisations (CSOs), and women’s rights organisations, around the world argue that
accountability is the only basis for effective aid. Donors, Southern governments and other actors in
the aid system must be accountable for the impacts and development outcomes of aid. CSOs, and
women’s rights organisations, believe that these impacts and outcomes must be ultimately
assessed in terms of progress towards internationally-agreed human rights, including women’s
rights, the right to development and associated economic and social rights. Rights-based
obligations should provide a normative and organising framework for accountability in the aid

In addition, accountability mechanisms must include gender responsive indicators and results-
based frameworks, in order to ensure steps towards the achievement of MDG37. CSOs demand
the inclusion of specific instruments within the ‘new’ aid tools, particularly: gender budgeting,
gender audits and monitoring of the implementation of international instruments for gender justice.

Challenge 2: Create new multi-stakeholder mechanisms for holding governments and
donors to account.

At present, accountability in the aid relationship flows almost entirely in one direction: from
recipient to donor. As such, donors are often unaccountable vis à vis partner governments and
citizens. In order to strength mutual accountability at country level, donors must make transparent
and binding commitments to which they can be held to account to the referred constituencies.
Mutual accountability in a context of highly unequal power relationships between donors and
recipients also requires a commitment to a fundamental reform of International Financial
Institutions (IFIs), (Better Aid 2008: 10).

 The Africa Gender and Development Evaluators Networks, in partnership with UNIFEM, has been working in identifying indicators that
could complement accountability processes in the Paris framework. For further information, please visit:

In addition, CSOs have raised concerns with respect to the practices of the IFIs, as it is not clear
how the latter are accountable at the national level. Women’s rights groups, working with CSO
campaigns on IFIs, play a key role in monitoring the direct and indirect effects of IFI policies on
women’s livelihoods. This lead us to the issue of donor countries’ interest and double standards
about trade and development be made explicit and part of the dialogue, along with citizen
participation from both recipient and donor countries. Women’s groups have developed extensive
gender analyses of trade policies, as well as the relation between aid practices from development
countries and their links (and contradictions) with policies in trade and investment, which seriously
affect prospects of developing countries to tackle poverty and inequality8. These concerns are a
key component of the civil society agenda around “mutual accountability”9.

Challenge 3: Mutual accountability, gender equality and women’s empowerment: How to
integrate gender equality and women’s rights?

The recommendations from the International Consultation of Women’s Organisations and
Networks and Aid Effectiveness, as well as from the African Women’s Consultation on Gender
Equality and Aid Effectiveness, highlighted concerning mutual accountability that:

         Donor and developing country governments should strengthen the capacities, resources
          and authority of national women’s machineries to support a monitor line ministries, other
          government bodies and parliaments in influencing national development planning and
          budget allocations for gender equality and women’s rights.

         All relevant actors must commit to the highest standards of openness and transparency:
               o Donors and international financial institutions should deliver timely and meaningful
                  information, adopt a policy of automatic and full disclosure of relevant information,
                  and submit to the norms and direction-setting of the United Nations (UN).
               o Developing countries’ governments must work with parliamentarian elected
                  representatives, CSOs (at local and national level) and the public to set out open
                  and transparent policies on how aid is to be sourced, spent, monitored and
                  accounted for.
               o Diverse CSOs, including women’s rights organisations, must also exercise
                  accountability and continuously draw their legitimacy from their constituencies.

         Donor and partner governments must provide transparent information on Official
          Development Assistance (ODA) allocations, which must be consistent with policy
          commitments and legal commitments, including the International Human Rights standards
          and Gender Equality commitments, as well as transparent and publicly available gender-
          responsive budgets.

EC / UN research10 also highlights the need of stronger mechanisms for accountability that
increase the visibility of gender equality, and suggests:
     Improving accountability should make gender equality issues and outcomes more visible in
       the development agenda, while improvements in enforceability should provide greater
       incentives for both partner countries and donors to deliver on gender equality commitments.
       Coherent and systematic inclusion of a gender perspective in accountability mechanisms
       and frameworks monitoring the implementation and results of donor programmes and
       national development plan is of ultimate importance in ensuring that these contribute to the
       objectives of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

  AWID, WIDE (2008). Primer #5: Aid Effectiveness and Women’s Rights Series: Making Women’s Rights and Gender Equality a
Priority in the Aid Effectiveness Agenda. Download from: or
  Alemany, C. et Craviotto, N. et al. (2008) Implementing the Paris Declaration: Implications for the Promotion of Women’s Rights and
Gender Equality. Canadian Council for International Cooperation: Canada.
   EC, UN et al. (2008) Information brief on gender equality and the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness to be held in Accra, 2-4
September 2008. Draft March 2008 (

As well as11:
     The collection of sex disaggregated data by national statistics offices.
     The integration of gender sensitive indicators in performance frameworks assessing
        national development strategies and donor programmes and linking their spending on GE
        to development outcomes.
     The active engagement of civil society organisations and gender equality and women’s
        empowerment advocates in accountability frameworks and monitoring mechanisms.
     The use of existing country reports on the implementation of CEDAW, Beijing Platform for
        Action and Millennium Development Goals.

Finally, the principle of mutual accountability, where donor countries, recipient countries and
citizens should be able to hold each other to account for their development commitments, can only
be truly possible where strong, independent, and well resourced civil society and women’s rights
organisations exist12.

4. Addressing some key questions for the Roundtable on Mutual Accountability

Why does mutual accountability matter from gender perspective?
Citing Cathy Gaynor13 accountability must be monitor with gender responsive indicators. Gender
equality goals need to be included in central and line ministry plans and results-based frameworks.
The accountability roles of national stakeholders and donor agencies in relation to gender equality
need to be clarified and monitored. Gender is a key dimension to be tracked in establishing mutual
accountability and transparency in the use of development resources. Advancing gender equality,
women’s empowerment and human rights are essential to strengthening local capacity, leadership,
voice and participation in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of national development
strategies. There is often a lack of strong national accountability mechanisms for environmental
sustainability, human rights and gender equality through parliaments, audit offices, a free media,
an active civil society and all the other means that are used in donor countries to hold government
accountable to taxpayers and the community.

Implications of the monitoring and evaluation studies of the Paris Declaration.
Mutual accountability is the area with lowest reporting and progress registered in the evaluations.
More detailed information should come with the 2008 Monitoring the Paris Declaration report.
Although its critical importance within the whole process.

It is surprising that one of the key principles of the PD is reduced in its implementation to separate
exercises to be conducted only at country level in the recipient countries. CSOs, and women’s
rights organisations, support the creation of an effective and relevant independent monitoring and
evaluation system for the Paris Declaration and its impact on development outcomes. Such
mechanism would offer partner countries the opportunity to assess the performance of donors
individually or collectively, as well. A unilateral country-level exercise where the partner country sits
in front of the whole of its donor community implies an enormous imbalance of power and
resources, where the partner country can be easily made accountable for its part in the “
partnership” under threat of seeing its aid cut or reduced but where the donors can hardly be made
accountable for any eventual shortcomings. The sum of those reviews cannot be expected to add
up to a fair “mutual accountability” exercise. Further, there is neither partner country
representation, nor that of any international institution where the interests of partner countries are
predominant, in the standard-setting and scorekeeping bodies of the PD, which are essentially the

   EC, UN et al. (2008) Mapping studies on Aid Effectiveness and Gender Equality: Cameroon Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia
and Ghana. Draft February 2008 (
   AWID / WIDE Primer #5.
   Gaynor, C. (2006) Paris Declaration Commitments And Implications For Gender Equality And Women's Empowerment.

OECD and the World Bank, even when it is recipient country governments, not donors, which are
penalized if those standards are not met14.

The role of CSOs in mutual accountability.
Diverse CSOs have been engaged in tracking Paris Declaration, both internationally and in
developing countries. CSOs have been raising a range of issues and bringing in different
perspectives, trying to ensure that this new framework for aid effectiveness translates into effective
and accountable development processes. CSOs are promoting a deepening of the aid
effectiveness agenda, so that it addresses the concerns of all stakeholders in the development
process. CSOs are particularly concerned about the interest and representation of groups, which
are often excluded or marginalized, including women and women’s movements. CSOs call for a
stronger language in the Paris Declaration regarding gender equality and human rights issues.

CSOs around the world argue that accountability is the only basis for aid and development
effectiveness. Donors, Southern governments and other actors in the aid system must be
accountable for the impacts and development outcomes of aid. CSOs believe that these impacts
and outcomes must be ultimately assessed in terms of progress towards internationally agreed
human rights standards, including the right to development and associated economic and social
rights. Right-based obligations should provide a normative and organising framework for
accountability in the aid system. In addition, accountability mechanisms must include gender
responsive indicators and results-based frameworks15.

Capacity requirements to exercise mutual accountability
In order to strength the capacity requirements to exercise mutual accountability “it would be helpful
to understand and clarify the accountability roles of donors, women’s machinery [in government],
different arms of governments, and CSOs, as different actors, as a way to build support and
opportunities to facilitate the political power needed to drive and sustain resources for gender
equality goals”16.

In addition, women’s rights advocates often face significant challenges at the country level in
attaining gender equality accountability from governments. Such accountability proves difficult
because the primary focus for aid effectiveness is on institutional procedures of disbursement and
accounting, not results or impact on the ground for gender equality goals. Much attention is being
placed on the alignment of donors to the Paris Declaration, but not on how donors and
governments measures the impacts of the new aid modalities in terms of development results in
the recipient countries17.

Predictability and aid levels
The main and almost exclusive concern of the Paris Declaration is to “reform the ways aid is
delivered and managed”. The Paris Declaration recognizes that “while the volumes of aid and
other development resources must increase to achieve these goals (the MDGs), aid effectiveness
must increase significantly as well to support partner country efforts to strengthen governance and
improve development performance” The Paris Declaration makes no commitment to increase aid,
demanded by MDG8, but it express the belief that more efficient aid delivery “will increase the
impact aid has in reducing poverty and inequality, increasing growth, building capacity and
acceleration achievement of the MDGs18”.

    Bissio, R. (2007). Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness: Application of the criteria for periodic evaluation of global development
partnerships – as defined in Millennium Development Goal 8 – from the right to development perspective: the Paris Declaration on Aid
Effectiveness. Human Rights Council – Working Group on the Right to Development: Geneva (
   ISG (2008). From Paris 2005 to Accra 2008: Will aid become more accountable and effective? A critical approach to the aid
effectiveness agenda. (
   Alemany, C. et Craviotto, N. et al. (2008) : 15.
   Bissio, R. (2007): 6.

What needs to be done to reinvigorate mutual accountability from a gender equality and
women’s empowerment perspective?
Women’s rights organisations and advocates demand the inclusion of specific instruments within
the ’new’ aid tools, particularly: gender budgeting, gender audits, gender-sensitive indicators and
monitoring mechanisms for the implementation of international agreed instruments for gender
equality and women’s empowerment (CEDAW, BPfA). As well as the improvement of sex
disaggregated data, which must become regular, and consistent to support planning, negotiations,
monitoring, and evaluation of development and aid policies. In addition, the current monitoring
process for the Paris Declaration is asymmetric – donors monitor themselves, while the World
Bank and others monitor recipient countries19. These kind of asymetries need to be addressed and

Because gender equality has not been explicitly addressed in the Paris Declaration, its
implementation process needs to be used to promote a wider development effectiveness
approach, where gender equality and women’s empowerment is essential and a cornerstone for
development effectiveness. Supporting Gaynor (2006), paragraph 4720 of Paris Declaration should
notice that gender is a key dimension to be tracked in establishing mutual accountability and
transparency in the use of development resources when as the paragraph 48 21 should notice that
women have a key part to play in strengthening the parliamentary role in national development
strategies and/or budgets but also reinforce participatory approaches and involvement of a broad
range of development partners, which include women’s rights organisations, in formulating and
assessing progress in implementing national development strategies.

Possible entry points for incorporation of gender in the Paris Declaration principles and monitoring,
can be22:

        Develop mechanisms to strengthen mutual accountability of donors and partner countries
         for promoting Gender Equality, Poverty Reduction and Human Rights. There are already
         ongoing strategies for integrating gender-sensitive indicators in accountability mechanisms
         in the Paris framework (i.e. AGDEN initiative23) that donor and partner governments could
         learn from and adopt.
        Promote accountability towards citizens and people, including women and girls, and not just
         between partner and donors’ government.
        Ensure meaningful participation of civil society, including women’s rights organisations, in
         accountability and review processes, they should be officially recognised as a monitoring
         partner and be able to bring its own monitoring and evaluation frameworks. Access to
         financial resources is also crucial for the sustainability of CSOs, and women’s rights
         organisations, participation in these processes.
        Build capacity towards a strong voice for women in areas where they currently are weak
         e.g. fiscal, trade and financial policy arenas.
        Strengthen national capacity in formulation of gender sensitive performance indicators and
         inclusion of gender analysis. As well as to promote Gender Auditing Systems and Gender
         Budget Initiatives.
        Active engagement of gender specialists throughout Paris Declaration monitoring
         processes, by involving them in the different task teams and working groups.

   ISG (2007): 6.
    Paragraph 47 of Paris Declaration mutual accountability means that donors and partners are accountable for development results. A
major priority for partner countries and donors is to enhance mutual accountability and transparency in the use of development
resources. This also helps strengthen public support for national policies and development assistance.
     Paragraph 48 of Paris Declaration partner countries committing to: strengthen as appropriate the parliamentary role in national
development strategies and/or budgets and reinforce participatory approaches by systematically involving a broad range of
development partners when formulating and assessing progress in implementing national development strategies.
   Built from Gaynor, C. (2006).

              List of suggested speakers to consider on the design of the RT5:

Carmen de la Cruz
Carmen de la Cruz is member of WIDE since 1988. She is an International consultant in gender
and development. During the last 20 years, she has gained a broad working experience in
development cooperation and humanitarian action in conflict and post-conflict environments in
Africa, Middle East and Latin America.
Since 2005, she is working on the gender related impact of new aid modalities. She is author of a
considerable number of articles and papers on women’s participation in peace-building; gender
planning; gender, globalisation and women’s rights; financing for gender equality as well as gender
and human development.
She holds a BA in Geography and History, a diploma on Advanced Studies in Social Anthropology
from the Autonomous University in Madrid and an expert title in International Relations and Gender
in Development.

Florence Etta
Florence E. Etta is currently an independent research, monitoring and evaluation consultant in the
fields of Information and Communication Technology Policy, Information and Communication
Technologies for Development (ICT4D), Education, Environment, Gender and Development. She
holds graduate degrees from the Universities of London and Lagos in the Psychology (Cognitive)
and Sociology of Education. Her primary training was in Science Education. In 2007 & 2006 she
completed refresher courses in Results Based Management, Appreciative Inquiry, Open Space
and Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation.
Florence has extensive research, monitoring & evaluation (M&E), capacity development, facilitation
and project/ NGO management experience. She has been/is a consultant to a handful of
International organizations including UNICEF, USAID, Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation,
IDRC, UNECA ACGSD and UNIFEM in West, Eastern and Southern Africa.
She spent 6 years (1998 -2005) at the International Development Research Centre, Nairobi
progamming in ICT4D during which she supervised the research and publication of five seminal
books in the subject matter. She is currently Chair of the steering committee of the African Gender
and Development Evaluators Network, which is a Special Interest Group of the African Evaluation
Association AfrEA, and the Vice Chair of PimaNet- a network of measurement professionals in

Hamida Harrison, Senior Programme Officer in charge of training and capacity building at the
ABANTU, Ghana. She holds MA degrees in International Relations, Public Administration
(Development option) and Sociolinguistics in addition to a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism
and Mass Communication. Her rich work experience as a lecturer in both local and foreign
universities makes her an effective training resource person. Some of the publications and papers
she authored include ‘The State of Women in Public Life in Ghana- An Overview,’ The state of the
Media in Ghana, and mainstreaming Gender in Policy-making. Mrs. Harrison has participated in
many conferences on women and development in the recent past. These conferences covered a
range of topics such as The International Women’s Organizations (Uganda), Direct Foreign
Investment and its Impact in Africa (Tanzania). She also participated in the UN Session of the
Commission on the Status of Women (USA) in 2005 and 2008. She is a member of many women
and other professional organizations. These include African Council on Communication Education,
Women in Law and Development and Association of Women’s Rights in Development.


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