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Understanding The Concept Of Gender Mainstreaming Sociology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 4752 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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This report is about gender mainstreaming which entered the mainstream of international public policy in September 1995, when it featured in the platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing where most nations have signed the Platform. The report present the background and the foundation of gender mainstreaming and discusses why, how and outcome of gender mainstreaming application in the institution and some problems and restrictions will be presented which may hinder the process of mainstreaming.

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2.0 Background

The road to guaranteeing equality between men and women began some decades back, and progress was made in certain sectors of society but we still a long way far from being to announce and state that equality exists in terms of women’s access too all of society sphere. Access has been restricted in areas of power or those requiring further education which has lead to the glass ceiling phenomena which still exist up to now in most organizations and institutions.

There has been always efforts and progressive approaches to achieve equality for women in the society and the main concern was over women’s issues and women’s access and opportunity to the different positions in the society. In the 1970s, which this period called “the period of individual rights” women in development (WID) main focus was on how women could better be integrated into existing development initiatives and was regarded as beneficiaries rather than full member of development. This approach has relevance to women only which had the effect of isolation and marginalizing of women n the decision making.

In the 1980s, which this period called “the period of specific action” due to the ineffectiveness and limited approach of the (WID), it became an evident that a new paradigm was needed to explain the relationship between women and men, Gender and Development GAD approach was different from WID and is it approach was:

The gender is not a women issue but both men and women

Both men and women have different and special needs.

Women can not be treated as homogenous group.

Women are disadvantaged to men

The inequality between men and women is systemic and structural.

Gender equality and equity in institutions and organization must be looked at with the understanding the complex lives of people and in order to have an effective gender analysis, must make a practical explaining the differences n men’s and women’s lives and helping to produce policies and programs that reduce inequalities.

The concept of gender mainstreaming was first proposed at the 1985 Third world Conference on Women in Nirobi and was developed further by the United Nation development community and is recognized as a global strategy for the promotion of gender equality. The idea of gender mainstreaming was formally featured in 1995 at the Fourth Conference on women which was held in Beijing. The UN Economic and Social Council defined the concept of gender mainstreaming as:

“Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programs, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as en’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programs in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men can benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality.”

The importance of gender mainstreaming has been widely discussed since governments committed to the concept in Beijing Platform for Action in1995. It has become a generally accepted procedure that gender equality is a prerequisite for a sustainable human development. Gender mainstreaming is an essential strategy not only for attaining gender equality, but also for the sustainable development of societies as whole. National women’s machineries (NWM) around the globe have been grappling with the complex task of turning concepts into reality to implement gender mainstreaming strategies.

Gender mainstreaming incorporates the GAD perspective and aims to look the relationships between men and women in their access to and control over resources, decision making and benefits and rewards within a particular system. The system could be an institution, organization, a government or a department society. The mainstream refer to an inter-related set of dominant ideas, values, practices, institutions and organizations that determine “who gets what” within a society. The ideas and practices within the mainstream tend to reflect an reinforce each other and thus provide a rationale for any given allocation of societal resources and opportunities.

Being part of the mainstream means that women and men have equitable access to resources, including opportunities and rewards. It implies equal participation influencing what is valued in shaping options within society. Becoming part of the mainstream means sharing equitable in the benefits of development. Becoming part of the mainstream offers the opportunity to influence who does what in a society, who won what, who has access to jobs and income, who controls the society’s resources and institutions, who makes decisions and who sets priorities.

Gender mainstreaming is a long term, complex and multi dimensional process that focuses on the needs of both men and women in order to achieve the optimal development and equality in the organization, gender streaming can defined as follows:

Is a process or a strategy to work toward the goal of gender equality and it is not and end in itself.

It is an approach to governance that makes men’s and women’s concerns and experience and integral part of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programs in all sectors of society.

It involves changing policies and institutions so that they actively promote gender equality.

It is a long term, transformative process that involves rethinking socio-cultural values and development goals.

The gender mainstreaming involve not restricting efforts to promote equality to the implementation of specific measures to help women, but mobilizing all general policies and measure specifically for the purpose of achieving equality by actively and openly taking the account at the planning stage their possible effects on the perspective situation of men and women. An effective gender mainstreaming policy consists of four steps:

Getting organized is on implementation and organization, and building awareness and ownership. Implementation and organization of gender mainstreaming refers to the process of providing a structural and cultural basis of equal opportunity. This includes formulation of objectives and targets, making a plan and drawing a budget and defining responsibilities and accountability of the different actors involved. All stakeholders involved in the policy should take equal opportunities of men and women in account. Training is essential in order to create a certain degree of gender awareness and expertise.

Learning about gender differences, a description of the actual situation is essential in order to access actual gender inequality. In addition, monitoring the situation over time and making an assessment such as participation (group/population) such as the share of men and women in unemployment, among the disabled or among those with flexible contracts. Resources such as access or distribution of time, money, space, information, political and economic power. Norms and values such as influence gender roles, gender division of labor, the altitude of men and women. Values attached to men and women. It is essential to identify the role of policy measures in reinforcing social norms and values that maintain gender inequality. Rights pertain to direct or indirect sex discrimination, human rights, and access to justice in the legal, political or socio-economic environment.

Assessing the policy impact is to analyze the potential gender impact of the policy with reference to participation, resources, norms and values and rights. Both quantitative and qualitative aspects should be taken account of participant. It’s important to differentiate between particular groups of men and women such as ethnic minority groups, age groups, and regional groups. It’s the changing policies and institutions so that they actively promote gender equality.

It is a long term transformative process that involves rethinking socio-cultural values, development goals and redesigning policies to identify ways in which the policy could be redesigned to promote gender equality in the even of having negative impact on gender equality or to be broadly gender neutral.

An effective gender mainstreaming policy diagram

3.0 Gender Streaming why, how and outcome:

3.1 Why Gender Streaming

Gender mainstreaming is an important aspect of good governance. It seeks to ensure that institutions, organizations, policies and programs respond to the needs and interests of women as well as men and distribute benefits equally and justice for women and men. Thus enhancing the accountability of organizations / governments to achieve results for all citizens.

The gender mainstreaming process does not mean a move away from specific women programs, special measures or women specific activities may still be required to address inequalities. Reducing poverty, boosting economic growth and strengthening citizenship is a proactive process designed to tackle inequalities which can discriminate against either sex.

Gender mainstreaming is not only about women but it is also about men and society in general. It is also important for both men and women to feel comfortable as pat of the gender mainstreaming process and must play an active role in ensuring gender equality. It will benefit the organization directly in terms of improving its image, credibility ad enhancing their political capital.

Mainstreaming can play an important role in eliminating sexual harassment and unprofessional attitudes towards people involved in gender work are series barriers that may not be easily surmountable through good augmentation strategies. Gender sensitivity and efforts to change attitudes within organization structure are vital elements in the gender mainstreaming process.

Gender mainstreaming may load to changes which give women and men equal access to the operation, power and resources. In addition the mainstreaming will have a direct effect on the effective service of the organization and better distribution of resources for both men and women. It will lead also to more legal security, better democracy in that women and men are treated equally and a better grasp of gender equality policy and of the needs of those who use the organizations services.

Why gender mainstreaming can be summarized as follows:

Target major economic and social policies that deliver resources

Make good economic sense ensuring that women as well as men are active, using full of the productive labor force.

Represent a further step in the search for equality.

Gender is the one of the most fundamental organizing features in society and affects our lives from the moment we are born.

Recognition of male and female identities and recognizes that differences exist in men’s and women’s lives and therefore our needs, experience and priorities are different.

Willingness to establish a balanced distribution of responsibilities between women and men.

Needs determined political action and support with clear indicators and targets.

Will not happen overnight, it is a continuous process.

Equal division of power and influence between women and men. Women and men shall have the same rights and opportunities to be active citizens and to shape the conditions for decision making.

Economic equality between women and men. Women and men shall have the same opportunities and conditions with regard to education and paid work that provide lifelong economic independence.

Men violence against women must stop. Women and men shall have equal rights and opportunities in terms of physical integrity.

3.2 How, Gender Mainstreaming

Gender mainstreaming in any organization’s policy must first take stock to determine where equality needs to be established. We need a clear idea of the political measure for change. Previously such measures were usually understood to the promotion of women, thus the new strategy is called the gender mainstreaming which combined political perspective should then provide and idea of what must be changed, how, and with what means.

All measures must first be checked for their political effects for both sexes and implemented only of they contribute to gender equality. Many measures must still contribute essentially to the promotion of women, that is, the dismantling of structural disadvantages for women, and to active gender equality. Gender mainstreaming resides in gender controlling, that is, in the analysis of each and every political activity from the perspective of its contribution to the establishment of equal opportunity. For such an analysis to be successful, expert knowledge, gender competence, and power must come together.

Expert knowledge refers to knowledge of processes, that is, one must have a through knowledge of the legal, political, and bureaucratic conditions of the given field of action. Gender competence signifies the development of critical view of gender that will help to recognize gender hierarchies. Pointing out general patriarchal structures is no longer enough; rather, subtle processes of constrictions on men as well as women must be recognized. Power also means the power to define problems in any given situation by pointing and filtering out issues that needs and require action in order modify its situation.

The inequalities exist in the organization is part of the domain of knowledge that would have to be made broadly available and should not remain in the hands of only a few specialists and mainstreaming means introducing gender relations in all themes and the fields they cover. A key point of gender mainstreaming is the demand that gender questions be made an obligatory theme in all areas, and a special theme for only a few. Giving this approach a political and legal foundation that is, as a measure applied from above will certainly makes things easier for activities struggling for general equality from below. But how to approach the theme, where it belongs, and how it is to be pursued remain largely open and needs expert recommendations.

The different pattern of participation of the sexes in the varies departments and levels of the institution must be achieved, this apply to all people within the institutions. We need acknowledgment that unequal distributions are a problem and obstacle in equality, such an acknowledgment is relevant in identifying and applying the particular policies to achieve equality.

Gender mainstreaming involves varies actions to be determined in order to formulate a policy of gender integration to achieve the final outcome, these actions include:

Carefully assessing the situation of women and men in the organizing and identifying the different vulnerable groups of women and men and that’s include ethnic minorities, disabled in relation to the objectives we need to achieve in our work.

Determining the steps needed to improve the gender equality within the organization in order to support this improvement.

Tracking the progress of mainstreaming with indicators or other means of monitoring the gender equality related issues.

Raising awareness about gender equality problems, obstacles and the importance of adopting a gender prospective.

Building a capacity program among the organization and partners to adopt a gender sensitive approach.

Ensuring visibility of the gender dimensions of the activities in the organization with proper documentation, reports, seminars and public information materials.

Sex disaggregated data and statistics

Skills and opportunities to carry out gender analysis.

Effective monitoring and evaluation systems and tools.

Effective communication, networks and linkages

Skilled human resource base

Civil society participation.

3.3 Outcome of Gender Mainstreaming

Gender mainstreaming was established as a global strategy for achieving gender equality, and in turn for achieving sustainable economic development in the 1995 Beijing platform for action ratified by all United Nations member states. It is now incumbent upon nation-states and international organizations to carry out gender mainstreaming and as such, has achieved widespread endorsement by individuals governments, regional suptra – state bodies such as the European Union, the Nordic Council of Ministries and the Organization of American States, the United nations and its varies agencies, the Organization foe Economic Cooperation and Development and the Council of Europe.

Gender mainstreaming is a process rather than a goal, where efforts to integrate gender into existing institutions of the mainstream have little value for their own sake. Mainstream gender concerns to achieve gender equality and improve the relevance of development agendas. Such an approach shows that the cost of women’s marginalization and gender inequality are born by all.

Gender mainstreaming include attempts to establish a gender-equality perspective across all policy areas, even where the gender issues at stake may be not immediately apparent, and where the impact of mainstreaming policy on gender relations is often indirect. Gender mainstreaming is neither conceived of as an achievement in itself nor as a liberal policy to include women in decision making roles, rather it is conceived as a strategy to re-invent the process of policy design, implementation and evaluation by taking into account the gender specific and often diverse interests and values of differently situated women and men.

All accounts of gender mainstreaming imply significant changes to gendered institutions, a range of different visions or models of gender equality have been invoked. Three main models of gender equality have been identified:

The first model is one in which equality based on sameness is fostered, especially where women enter previously male domains and this known as the transformations of gender relations.

The second in which there is a move towards the equal valuation of existing and different contributions of women and men in a gender segregated society known as “tailoring” situations to fit the needs of the women.

The third is one in where there is a new standard for both men and women, which is the transformation of gender relations in which there are new standards for everyone, replacing the segregated institutions and standards associated with masculinity and femininity. Gender mainstreaming is highly diverse with uneven impacts, it is situated within the development of global politics, multi forms of governance and diverse discourses of human rights.

All gender mainstreaming agendas and policies must should be evaluated from the perspective of whether or not it reduces or increases gender inequalities, unfair and unequal gender outcomes can be redresses. Gender equality and justice thus rely on the creative and technical capacity of gender analysis and gender specialists in the institutions.

The gender mainstreaming main aim and the resulting goal is to help to transform a society to better gender equality, the result of such an events can be difficult to identify and track. The signs of the outcome of the gender streaming may be observed after a long term and can be identified by the increase in equality and the development results may include:

Women’s increased access to and control over a society’s development resources and opportunities.

Reduction in poverty for both women and men assessed through several indicators associated with areas where significant gender gaps exist, such as health and income.

More equitable participation in decision making concerning allocation of development resources that might produce results such as improved health service delivery or better access to opportunities.

Improved media images of women’s roles in relationship and society, promoting women as individuals with full human rights and discouraging intolerance and violence against women.

The emergence of committed gender-sensitive leaders, planers and implementers, both men and women applying gender analysis to their work on a regular basis.

Identification of gender focal points in various government ministries with the capacity to provide leadership and accountability.

The provision of adequate resources for the collection and analysis of sex disaggregated data, particularly to track impact of policies and programming.

Putting mechanism in place to facilitate regular consultation and validation of policy decisions with civil society groups and organizations promoting gender equality.

4.0 Possible Problems or restrictions of gender mainstreaming

Gender mainstreaming is a new strategy which has not been a great success so far, and essentially contested form of feminist politics and policy, existing in the tension between the mainstream and interventions to secure gender equality. The gender mainstreaming in development policies has been limited by its discursive construction as well as the failure to empower key gendered actors and its development has been uneven and weakened by its subordination to other policy goals.

Gender mainstreaming has been criticized as a confusing conceptual framework at best, and at worst, a force that has totally undermined women’s rights. Some say that it has resulted in the disappearance of attention to women’s specific needs and the gender differentiated impacts of policies and programs.

Mainstreaming has been described as a “deceptive simple concept that is likely to be extremely difficult to operationlize” and as “an extraordinary demanding concept, which requires the adoption of a gender perspective by all the central actors in the policy process”. Most Organizations embrace mainstreaming without implementing the extensive ground work and structural change that is necessary to ensure effective outcomes.

Gender mainstreaming has emerged as a strategy in a period in which many governments and organizations have been anxious to reduce the costs and burdens imposed on market actors. Present approaches to macroeconomics have tended to reinforce a simplistic anti-poverty agenda that is incompatible wit process of gender mainstreaming.

The lack of general understanding of what gender mainstreaming entails in practical terms and a lack of access to support mechanism and the gaps between policy and practice, with particular challenges to inadequate institutional mechanism, including the area of data collection, accountability, monitoring, reporting and training, as well as inadequate resource allocation.

Other factors which hindered and restricted the gender mainstreaming include:

Women organization may influence the outcome of mainstreaming due to their claim that streaming is not the appropriate procedure to achieve equality and feel that their situation will even become worse than before.

The policy of gender mainstreaming sometime will lead to the abandonment of specific, positive actions on behalf of women and the particular policies on behalf of women may be discontinued and the equal opportunity unit will be weakened in the name of mainstreaming.

There is a far that gender mainstreaming might be an attempt to integrate women’s work to cut down costs and to downsize staff and the fear of some women is that it might lead to integration and elimination of women’s movement and therefore lad to invisibility rather than to transformation.

Many of the initiative undertaken under its mandate fail to create and legally enforceable rights, such as equal pay. The promise of the mainstreaming approach lies not in the short term creation of legally enforceable rights, but in the long term transformation of the policy process to serve the goal of equal opportunity between women and men.

Political will and leadership: Understanding and commitment from authorities is obviously crucial to creating an enabling environment for the implementation of gender mainstreaming. Formal acknowledgement from political leaders that gender equality is an essential component of sustainable development is a starting point.

Policy framework: without a formal policy in place related to gender streaming, often the results will be weak and missed.

Unavailable of Sufficient Resources: without sufficient of resources, the commitment to gender streaming will not be achieved. Resources must be allocated to support the structure and practice required of mainstreaming.

Sex-disaggregated and data information system: Information are not available to assure that there differences in circumstances and opportunities between women and men in order to provide the basis for policy and program development and evaluations.

Tools and knowledge for gender analysis is not available and missing, such as inappropriate person in key position, lack of understanding concerning national gender equality and rational, scarce human, financial and technical resources, a lack of incentives / recognition rewards, lack of professionalism or political skills within the organization who will be responsible for establishing linage with other agencies and government departments.

5.0 Steps and procedures needed to address issues in mainstreaming

Gender mainstreaming is relatively new phenomena and drives from only 20 years experience and the main procedure needed to the successful polices of mainstreaming is capacity building and training is needed to ensure and enhance the system gender sensitivity and gender expertise and these include:

Integrate a gender perspective into all training programs.

Provide continuous gender training for all staff, including those at the highest levels.

Provide special training for gender experts to enhance their skills.

Ensure that specialized gender expertise is available to them.

Coordinate their training efforts though a system-wide evaluation of the impact of gender training.

Gender disaggregated statistics and indicators to be collected and analyzed.

Information exchange on gender mainstreaming within organization in particular women watch groups.

Provide gender sensitive public information activities and materials to all concerned parties.

In addition all problems and restrictions of gender mainstreaming of previous section can be avoided in order to not to hinder the development policies of gender mainstreaming.

6.0 Conclusion

The gender mainstreaming is relatively new and has taken a center stage in the world order since the United Nations Conferences in Cairo, Copenhagen and Beijing have created very important aspects for women equality and rights to move the International development agenda from small scale to emphasizing the importance of gender mainstreaming in impacting the status of women in economics, social and political development. The mainstreaming gender equality is a commitment of organization to ensure that women’s as well as men’s concerns are the main parameters of the design policy in order to achieve equality for all sexes and to shatter the glass ceiling.


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