Making aid responsive to gender needs-The EC/UN Partnership
Daily Graphic, Thursday, March 20, 2008. Page 17 (Women’s World)
Daily Graphic, Thursday, March 20, 2008. Page 17 (Women’s World)
It is widely acknowledged that gender equality is not only crucial in itself but is a fundamental human right and a question of social justice. The United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM) recognises that women will only benefit from the new aid architecture if gender equality is recognised as a key component of poverty reduction and national development.
Evidence however shows that gender equality has not fared well in the broader aid effectiveness agenda. The Head of Delegation of the European Commission (EC) to Ghana, Mr Filiberto Ceriani, at the launch of an EC/UN Partnership on Gender Equality for Development and Peace in Accra recently maintained that gender inequalities are still ingrained in the cultural, social and political systems of many countries.
To make national development agenda responsive to gender parity and women’s needs and to push forward the agenda of the new aid architecture, the last five years have been marked by a number of global initiatives and commitment to improve on the use of aid in developing economies and ensure that increased levels of aid effectively address today’s development challenges.
Mention could be made of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that commit developed and developing countries to meeting the needs of the word’s poorest by 2015 and the Monetary Consensus that established ownership, alignment and harmonisation in development assistance.
Furthermore the 2004 Marrakech Roundtable on Managing for Development Results that established aid effectiveness and increases in its volume and the most recently adopted Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness in March 2005, are both geared towards aid effectiveness.
The link between these commitments and the visionary promises made by countries to advance gender equality in the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA), the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and Security Council Resolution 1325 needs to be clarified and strengthened.
The ten-year review of the BPFA and the five-year review of Resolution 1325 affirmed that commitments to gender equality were not matched by concerted or consistent implementation or by financial support through official development assistance or government budgets.
To address these challenges and to ensure that gender equality is at the heart of all development policy to achieve aid effectiveness has resulted in a landmark initiative that has brought together the EC, UNIFEM and the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in the EC/UN Partnership on Gender Equality for Development and Peace.
Ghana is one of the 12 countries chosen to pilot the EC/UN Partnership. The other countries are Cameroon, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Napal, Nicaragua, Papau New Guinea, Suriname and the Ukraine.
The initiative involves the identification of strategies to support and strengthen national planning processes and consultations on gender and aid effectiveness in 12 countries, with representatives from government, national women’s machineries, NGOs, EC delegations and multilateral organisations, including UN Country Teams.
In Ghana, the Partnership is also to expand capacities of gender equality advocates and experts to promote greater responsiveness to gender equality in aid effectiveness processes, in the lead up to and following the 2008 Ghana High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness.
It is being implemented in response to the International Donor Community’s new “Development Consensus” that seeks to address aid effectiveness and gender equality in the country’s national development planning and implementation process.
The project which is a follow-up to a crucial conference that was jointly organised by the EU/UNIFEM in November 2005, aims at mainstreaming gender parity issues and other pro-poor interventions in the national development framework to address the plight of women and the “vulnerable” in society.
The launch of the programme in Ghana was also used to present a mapping study by the EC/UN Partnership on Gender Equality for peace and Development.
The study looked at the status of women and gender equality in Ghana, aid to Ghana, aid modalities, alignment, ownership, harmonisation, managing for results and mutual accountability.
The report of the study, which was presented by Ms Afua Ansre, National Programme Co-ordinator of UNIFEM, called on the government and donors to ensure that the Ghana Joint Assistance Strategy, which is to operate from 2007-2010, presents an example of how harmonisation might work for gender equality.
It also urged the government to increase support to the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs and called on donors to revitalise their gender mainstreaming approached to ensure that gender is not disappearing from projects and sector and budget programmes.
The various speakers emphasised that making aid responsive to gender needs in responsive budgeting, would help governments to probe into whether men and women fared differently under existing revenue and expenditure patterns.
This they maintained, will provide the government the opportunity to understand and appreciate how various social groups responded differently to development policy change over time.
The Chief Advisor to the President, Mrs Mary Chinery-Hesse, who launched the programme, underlined the need for such a mapping study to take into account both the paid and unpaid economic contributions of women.
She mentioned that the work of women within the household or community, such us the upbringing of children, nursing the sick and elderly, managing household resources and consumption, protecting the environment should be acknowledged in addition to those activities that are ultimately reflect in market transaction which tend to be captured by national statistics.
The importance of ensuring that the new aid modalities empower women, by making gender equality a core value and goal at all levels of development co-operation, is significant and it is important that gender equality and women’s empowerment will be the basis for greater co-ordination among donors and increased ownership of development processes by national governments.