Gender mainstreaming is the idea that when designing policies, the different effects the policy will have on men and women, due to their particular roles in society, should be considered at every stage of the process. In the WIDER Working Paper ‘Gender Mainstreaming in Nordic Development Agencies’ Malokele Nanivazo and Lucy Scott look at how gender mainstreaming has been implemented in the development agencies of three Nordic countries; Denmark (Danida), Finland (Ministry for Foreign Affairs, FMFA), and Sweden (Sida), who are seen as world pioneers in gender equality.
The components of a gendermainstreaming approach
Gender mainstreaming has three components: the integration of gender concerns into policy and programme cycles, targeted initiatives aimed at addressing gender equality concerns, and political dialogue about gender and development. Of the three Nordic agencies studied only Sida incorporates all three of these components into its gender mainstreaming approach. Both Danida and FMFA use the term ‘mainstreaming’ only to refer to the integration of gender into the policy-making process. The FMFA also pursue political dialogue on gender concerns outside of their core mainstreaming approach.
Nanivazo and Scott point out that all three agencies see the different components as complementary. However they are not always treated as such in practice. FMFA, pursues special interventions at the expense of wider integration projects. This tendency may be due to the fact, noted by an FMFA adviser, that projects with a targeted approach tend to bring about more visible improvements.
All three agencies believe that gender mainstreaming has been more successful in some sectors than in others. Agriculture (Danida, FMFA, and SIDA), water and sanitation (FMFA), forestry (FMFA), and infrastructure (SIDA) stand out as sectors in which gender mainstreaming has not been as successful.
Budgets and financial resources
If gender mainstreaming is to be achieved it needs adequate funding. Nanivazo and Scott show that the levels of funding for gender equality programmes and mainstreaming activities means that, at least on the face of it, gender equality is a well-funded objective.
In 2011 Danida devoted 18 per cent of its total development budget to gender mainstreaming and special interventions. Between 2008 and 2010 6 per cent of development interventions Sida funded had gender equality as their primary objective and 71 per cent of development interventions had gender equality as a significant objective. The FMFA targeted 54 per cent of its total aid budget towards gender issues.
However these figures may lead to an overestimation of the financial resources available for gender. There is a need to distinguish between budgets for special interventions for gender and integrating gender into existing programmes (the latter specifically referred to as mainstreaming in the FMFA and Danida). Danida disburses most of its resources on special interventions and has no specified budget for mainstreaming activities. Similarly the FMFA does not have a separate budget for mainstreaming activities. Instead it advises that each project should assign a proportion of its budget to mainstreaming, which does not always happen in practice. Sida has recognized that gender budgeting is an area where increasing attention is needed.
Internal responsibility and human resources
In each agency, all staff is ultimately responsible for gender mainstreaming. However all three agencies have staff who are assigned to give advice and guidance on gender mainstreaming issues. Each agency differs on how it integrates gender advisers into its overall organizational structure. In the FMFA gender equality advisers are part of a cross-cutting objectives team which also focuses on gender equality and climate change. There are no resources available for staff incountry embassies. Danida has a gender adviser in the ministry, as well as two staff members responsible for integrating gender into multi-lateral assistance. These staff members also coordinate with other staff members who have part-time gender responsibilities. Embassies have ’gender focal points‘ that spend a proportion of their weekly hours on gender issues.
Following a recent reorganization at Sida, gender capacity is now spread throughout the organization. Two advisers are part of the policy department, others are programme advisers in implementing departments. These advisers meet at least once a week. Sida also has gender focal points in its embassies and some projects have full-time advisers. All in all Sida has 83 staff members in total focusing on gender issues.
Intervention identification and design
All three agencies are highly decentralized, and embassies are responsible for the identification, design, and implementation of interventions. All three also have systems in place which are designed to ensure that gender is mainstreamed in design and implementation process. In Denmark embassies are required to undertake gender analysis (if no information is already available) before they submit a proposal to Danida headquarter. The proposal has to include a Gender Rolling Plan which identifies the role gender will play at each stage of the project cycle. Once at headquarters the proposal is further analysed by gender advisers.
Similarly the FMFA emphasizes the importance of gender analysis. However, according to a gender adviser this does not always take place due to time and resource constraints. Nanivazo and Scott report that in practice what happens is that gender advisers based in Helsinki comment on proposals after they have been developed. This is a challenge for the FMFA as it often leads to the gender dimension being an afterthought rather than an integral part of the planning process, as recommended in the development policy guidelines. In Sida much of the checking process for gender mainstreaming takes place in the embassies themselves. However again, Nanivazo and Scott, suggest that the capacity to do this varies from embassy to embassy.
Nanivazo and Scott state that while all three agencies include gender analysis as part of their programme development process, this commitment often evaporates when it comes to implementation. It is often the case that there are not enough gender specialists involved in the implementation of a project. Danida has tried to combat this by providing e-learning to its project and embassies staff and by continually assessing whether the Gender Rolling Plan is being followed. The FMFA relies on its gender staff at headquarters to steer an intervention. Nanivazo and Scott suggest that this leads to interventions being gender mainstreamed on paper, but not in practice.
Monitoring and evaluation
The importance of disaggregating indicators by gender is recognized by all three agencies. Danida’s Gender Equality Rolling Plans require the definition of at least one gender based indicator, and they provide guidance on selecting gender sensitive indicators. Similarly the FMFA requires its civil servants to identify indicators that can be used to analyse the gendered impacts of interventions. Sida at Work recommends that gender specialists involved in broader projects to develop a contribution management system which will enable them to demonstrate the results of their interventions.
However, Nanivazo and Scott point out that once again things may look better on paper that in practice. Indeed, very few evaluations of FMFA interventions have examined how project benefits are distributed between genders. In Danida gender advisers in Copenhagen have no overview of the achievements of different projects because all assessments and progress reports are managed and analysed at the embassy level.
Having outlined how gender mainstreaming is currently implemented in the FMFA, Danida, and Sida Nanivazo and Scott move on to look at current and future trends which have implications on gender mainstreaming. This part of their paper is outlined here
This report by James Stewart summarizes UNU-WIDER working paper no. 2012/99 'Gender Mainstreaming in Nordic Development Agencies: Seventeen years after the Beijing Conference' by Malokele Nanivazo and Lucy Scott.