Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Making aid relevant to gender-equality

Making aid relevant to gender-equality
-The EC/UN Partnership
Daily Graphic, Tuesday, August 19, 2008. Page 11 (Gender and Children)
Salome Donkor

Between September 2 and 4 this year, ministers from over 100 countries and heads of bilateral and multilateral development agencies, donor organisations, and civil society organisations from around the world will assemble in Accra for the third High-Level Forum on aid effectiveness.

The conference is being held in recognition of the need to reform the process of development assistance to make it more responsive to the needs of developing countries and marginalised people in their fight against poverty by making aid more transparent, accountable and results-oriented.

The move towards a more equitable and gender responsiveness in the aid agenda over the years resulted in a conscious effort by the international community to reform the ways through which aid is delivered and managed.

They recognised that while the volumes of aid and other development resources must increase to achieve these goals, aid effectiveness must increase significantly, as well as support partner country efforts to strengthen governance and improve development performance. This is aimed at increasing the impact of aid in reducing poverty and inequality, increasing growth, building capacity and accelerating the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The commitment to achieve improved aid effectiveness and results was concretised in the late 1990s, when donors/aid agencies, in particular, began working with each other, and with partner countries, to harmonise these approaches and requirements.

The movement picked up steam in 2002 at the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, and the last five years have been marked by a number of initiatives towards establishing a new aid architecture.

This culminated in a High-Level Forum on Harmonisation in Paris in March 2005, attended by heads of multilateral and bilateral development institutions, who resolved to take positive steps to reform ways to aid delivery and management.

The High-Level Forum followed up on the adoption of a Declaration that has come to be known as the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. The declaration is grounded on five mutually reinforcing principles: Ownership, alignment, harmonisation, managing for results and mutual accountability.

As part of a programme to enhance the knowledge of the media in understanding the issues concerned with aid effectiveness, the European Commission (EC), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organisation (ITC-ILO) have launched the EC/UN Partnership on Gender Equality for Development and Peace. The partnership is to support stronger action on gender equality and women’s human rights in national development process and in co-operation programmes supported by the EC.

Consequently, a one-day training workshop was organised for journalists in Accra, to provide the opportunity for participants to interact and share ideas on international aid and development issues and to break down the technical terms of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.

The participants, made up of representatives from both the print and electronic media, maintained that no country could attain accelerated development if a segment of the population was not involved in the planning and implementation of the development process. They said it was necessary to ensure that women, who constitute more than half of the population of a number of countries, were involved in development plans, while aid was implemented to meet the different needs of men, women, children and people with special needs.

Ms Afua B. Ansere, the National Programme Co-ordinator UNIFEM said aid effectiveness would be attained if monies flowing into a country as aid were more co-ordinated and used for the intended purpose, while recipients were more accountable for the aid received.

She said for Ghana to attain a middle-income status by 2015, and to make aid effectiveness more relevance to the country, it was important to link the international aid received by the country to gender equality and women empowerment, while looking at the proportion of money that was channeled into health, education and youth training, as well as reproductive health and maternal health care, water and sanitation and the provision of other social services.

Mrs Charity Binka, a member of the EC/UN Partnership, who made a presentation on the concepts of gender equality and women empowerment, said basically women were seen to perform reproductive roles, while men performed productive roles. She, however, indicated that gender was not a consequence of sex and did not mean that one group was better than the other, adding that “it involves the roles that we play in our homes, the society, the church and in our communities”. She said gender equality meant that men and women had the same rights, status and fair treatment regardless of their sex.

The Accra forum will among others review progress in improving aid effectiveness, broaden the dialogue to newer actors and chart a course for continuing international action on aid effectiveness.

The conference will conclude high-level discussions and negotiations around key issues, culminating in the endorsement of a ministerial statement — The Accra Agenda for Action — that aims to deepen implementation of the Paris Declaration.

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