UN-HABITAT's overall goal of mainstreaming
gender equality and women's rights into all activities implies that the
Programme has to be proactive regarding equality between women and men,
girls and boys, in all areas of its mandate, according to the international
The international community has affirmed
and reaffirmed their commitment to women's empowerment and gender equality
in a number of documents. The most important and strongest document in
the area is CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination
Against Women from 1979. (See Appendix 2 for a more detailed presentation).
The binding commitments of the Convention (CEDAW) were reaffirmed in the
equally important Beijing Declaration of 1995, and its Action Plan the
Platform for Action. (See Appendix 3 for a more detailed presentation.)
In this conference, the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing,
China, Governments reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen equality
between women and men, identifying 12 critical areas of concern to this
cause. The Beijing conference also adopted the strategy of gender mainstreaming
as the overall approach to reach the objective of gender. The following
paragraphs from the Beijing Declaration are important in setting the framework
for gender mainstreaming:
(Paragraph 13) Women's empowerment and their
full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society,
including participation in the decision-making process and access to power,
are fundamental for the achievement of equality, development and peace;
(14) Women's rights are human rights;
(24) Take all necessary measures to eliminate
all forms of discrimination against women and the girl child and remove
all obstacles to gender equality and the advancement and empowerment of
(25) Encourage men to participate fully in all actions towards equality.
The goal of gender equality should be seen
as an over arching objective that UN-HABITAT should contribute to as an
active participant. UN- HABITAT is expected to perform its role in an
international context, as no single actor can alone achieve the goal of
gender equality. The international community defines gender equality as
women, and men's equal rights, opportunities and responsibilities will
take both time and much effort to reach. However, it is something that
UN-HABITAT must strive for in its work within human settlement development.
It is in this process of reaching full equality between women and men
that UN-HABITAT has a mandate to act, and is required to contribute.
According to UN-HABITAT's main steering document,
the Habitat Agenda, the overall goal of promoting gender equality should
guide all UN-HABITAT's interventions in the field as well as at the policy
and decision making level. The goal is outlined in the original version
of the Gender Policy from 1996:
Mainstream a gender-perspective and practice
a gender sensitive approach in all new and ongoing activities of the Centre
To mainstream gender equality into all its
interventions and work is therefore the main contribution to the overall
goal of gender equality and women's rights made by UN-HABITAT. By being
aware of the unequal status of women and men, boys and girls, contributing
to lessen these gender-based gaps, the Programme will actively participate
in the work towards the goal of gender equality.
1.1 UN-HABITAT's Gender
Common to a majority of Senior Managers and
staff of UN-HABITAT is the sincere belief in women's rights and gender
equality. Although a gender mainstreaming approach of UN-HABITAT's programmes
and interventions has begun, and there is a real commitment within the
organisation to implement this work, challenges remains in strengthening
the capacity to mainstream a gender perspective. This policy aims to articulate
the main areas of the gender mainstreaming strategy of UN-HABITAT but
the question of "how to" implement these still remains and will
be further elaborated in UN-HABITAT's Gender Mainstreaming Plan of Action.
Guidelines for the objectives of gender equality
have been adopted centrally for all UN bodies. The following four objectives
has been outlined specifically for UN-HABITAT:
(1) Adopt and develop
a centre-wide approach and methodology for gender mainstreaming
An approach and methodology to be identified
and developed for successful incorporation of a gender perspective into
all of UN-HABITAT's interventions in a manner which influences goals,
strategies, resource allocation and outcomes. UN-HABITAT must therefore
outline its corporate gender mainstreaming strategy, which should be adopted,
acknowledged and followed by management and staff.
(2) Identify entry points
and opportunities within UN-HABITAT's work
Opportunities and entry points must be identified
for introducing gender mainstreaming into UN-HABITAT's work and implementation
of the Habitat Agenda. These opportunities should include all phases of
the work from planning programmes and projects to policy development and
decision making, in order for the UN-HABITAT to produce gender aware outputs.
The most important aim within this objective is to make these entry-points
visible and accepted within the organisation so that they are used and
developed within its particular context by UN-HABITAT staff and management
and routinely recognise them for their importance and necessity.
(3) Identify linkages
between Gender Equality and Human Settlements Development
This implies identifying and outlining linkages
between gender equality and the issues/areas or sector of the agency's
mandate. In UN-HABITAT's case this means paying attention to linkages
between gender roles and responsibilities within the area of human settlements.
Outlining gender linkages in the areas of UN-HABITAT's mandate will strengthen
the understanding of why promoting gender equality and women's rights
are important in achieving the goals of sustainable development that have
been identified for UN-HABITAT.
(4) To develop institutional
capacity and knowledge to enable gender mainstreaming within UN-HABITAT
The final policy objective is in regard to
the development of the institutional competence and knowledge within the
Programme. All UN agencies must, according to UN regulations and mandate,
develop guidelines for gender mainstreaming activities, utilising gender
specialists whenever deemed necessary, and provide capacity building for
all staff and management in the area of gender mainstreaming. This is
a learning process that should be implemented at all levels. The responsibility
of UN-HABITAT's management is to set aside adequate resources and allocate
staff time for the Programme to strengthen its knowledge and capacity
of gender mainstreaming.
All the four mentioned objectives above imply
a strengthened knowledge and competence of the staff in order to identify
when gender mainstreaming should be carried out and how it could/should
be done. This therefore demands a learning process, as was mentioned above,
to take place among staff and management within UN-HABITAT to be able
- promote and implement gender sensitive
- initiate analysis of gender roles and
- gender mainstream policies and activities
guided by these objectives and,
- promote gender equality as a cross-cutting
goal in all human settlements development.
The overall goal of gender equality for UN-HABITAT's
external work will naturally be to strengthen gender equality and women's
rights among the stakeholders in the diverse activities in the field.
A gender sensitive approach is not a goal in itself but a means to achieve
equal rights between women and men, and to promote women's rights in particular
through interventions in diverse countries and communities globally. In
most of the societies where UN-HABITAT is active, there are already commitments
made on gender equality at a higher level, through adopted Declarations
and Resolutions and signed and ratified Conventions. There are often,
although not always, national legal frameworks and laws promoting gender
equality and women's rights which are equally important to follow in UN-HABITAT's
work, as well as lessons learned from the civil society. As the overall
objective of UN-HABITAT is in line with international standards, these
commitments at the national level all refer to the very same goal.
1.2 Specific commitments
required reaching UN-HABITAT's Gender Policy objectives
The above overall objectives for UN-HABITAT's
work imply that staff and management give regular input in order to gender
mainstream their work within the field of human settlements development.
This has implications for all staff at the Programme in ensuring the following
aspects in their roles as planners, decision-makers and implementers in
human settlements development. The policy objectives outlined above, are
here linked to implications and demands on UN-HABITAT management and staff:
(1) Adopt a programme-wide
approach or methodology to mainstream gender
- Ensure that effort is made to mainstream
programme-wide guidelines and policy documents to acknowledge and ensure
that a gender perspective is a formal part of planning and decision
making within the Programme's activities.
- Develop institutional guidelines for
gender mainstreaming, linked to the work programme, are developed, both
for specific issues/areas within the Programme's mandate, as well as
on an overall level.
- Ensure gender mainstreaming is acknowledged
on all levels and adopted as the strategy for integrating a gender perspective
and supporting women's rights in all activities of the Programme.
- Ensure that all phases of the Project
Cycle, from the appraisal to the follow-up/evaluation phase, are adequately
- Identify and promote adequate tools/instruments
for follow-up and monitoring, such as indicators and benchmarks, within
all interventions implemented by UN-HABITAT.
- Establish and strengthen accountability
mechanisms within the UN-HABITAT to ensure gender mainstreaming of all
its interventions, such as the Project Review Committee (PRC) and other
- Ensure gender components are included
in all interventions when collaborating with partners and agencies.
(2) Identify entry
points and opportunities within UN-HABITAT's work programme
- Promote the avoidance of discrimination
and hardship for both women and men in order for the development processes
to avoid impoverishment of women and men, boys and girls alike.
- Implement accountable processes of development
for both women and men, within the field of human settlement development
in general and in the Programme's activities in particular.
- Ensure that women and girls through organisations
and networks are active participants in the UN-HABITAT's programmes
and projects, and that they are always equal partners and stakeholders
at decision-making forums.
- Collect and analyse relevant data on
stakeholders (including target groups) for all activities and ensure
that the outcome of these analyses is actively used in programme/project
- Promote and support the development of
- Ensure that knowledge within the field
of gender mainstreaming is gained through the above mentioned aspects.
(3) Identify linkages
between Gender Equality and Human Settlements Development
- Outline and acknowledge how women and
men experience human settlements development differently within specific
areas of UN-HABITAT's areas of work.
- Outline how women and men contribute
to and gain from human settlements development differently.
- Understand and acknowledge how human
settlements development has different impacts on women and men in all
interventions of UN-HABITAT.
- Identify international Declarations and
Conventions adopted or ratified by the international community in general
and the specific country in particular, that ensure women and men equal
rights, opportunities and possibilities, which could be used as references
in diverse activities.
- Take into consideration relevant national
policies based upon international Conventions and Declarations adopted
to ensure and promote gender equality and women's rights within the
- Acknowledge and cooperate with already
active bodies, such as NGOs, civil society groups and community-based
organisations and individuals in the field of interest and make use
of their knowledge and capacities, as well as strengthen them in their
- Ensure gender components in all collaboration
with partners and other agencies are in place.
- Analyse the importance of globalisation
and urbanisation on gender roles, as well as identify emerging opportunities
for women, vis-a-vis, the changing cultural context, and diversification
of employment chances for women.
(4) Develop institutional
Competence by allocating staff time and resources
- Avail adequate resources to be spent on
gender mainstreaming in the form of development of competence through
training, workshops, handbooks, manuals and guidelines.
- Allocate adequate staff time.
- Earmark resources (both financial and
regular staff time) for training and capacity building. This form of
institutional learning should be encouraged and supported by management
- Raise awareness on UN Conventions and
Declarations relevant to the goal of gender equality and promotion of
women's rights and empowerment.