-Dr. Meena Acharya, Senior economist, Nepal
Operationalizing Gender Equality and Social Inclusion:
There has been a shift in the development approach from “gender mainstreaming” to “gender equality and social inclusion mainstreaming”.
The goal is to ensure that development addresses not only discrimination against women but also bias against women and men from historically excluded social groups.
Being responsive to gender implies recognition that gender-relations result from socially constructed unequal power relations.
Therefore, a gender focus places power-relations at the core of development and makes empowerment and the dismantling identity-based structural inequalities an integral goal of the process (Bataliwala, 1994).
The GESI approach is a welcome as it takes into account both gender inequality and social exclusion.
The current Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Approach (GESI), initially developed for poverty monitoring has now been adopted by TYIP as a common approach in planning and implementation of development programs.
The approach goes far beyond the promoting participation of women and disadvantaged groups in the programs.
It begins by systematically identifying barriers that women and different excluded groups may face in taking advantage of a given policy or program and incorporates mechanisms to help them overcome the barriers – including a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system that provides disaggregated data for tracking inclusion outcomes.
There are three steps involved in preparing a GESI Strategy/Action Plan.
The first is identifying disadvantaged groups and understanding their situation and the barriers they face in accessing services and opportunities.
The second involves designing and implementing policies and/or programs to address the barriers.
This may require changes in policies, programs, resource allocations, institutional arrangements and staffing patterns and incentives as well monitoring and reporting systems.
A gender and inclusion sensitive monitoring and evaluation mechanism is the third step.
The indicators include process indicators such as level of participation by women and locally identified excluded groups in programs/projects and management positions in CBOs.
It also has result indicators such as the share of benefits accruing to women and various groups.
These benefits could be employment, antenatal care and other health services, schooling, teaching positions, water taps, etc.
The final layer has higher, level national impact indicators such as access to safe drinking water and the time saved, school completion rates, reduced Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and under child mortality rates, skill development and employment opportunities after completion of the project/program, etc.
A GESI sensitive M&E system is expected to be a source of constant feedback to the policy and/or program.
A recent review of policies, strategies, programs and institutions of 19 ministries9 showed that only seven had new gender and inclusion strategies, some of which were already beginning to be implemented while others were still mainly on paper (Sahavhagi, 2009).
These included ministries of education, population and health, forestry, agriculture, transport and labor, local development and general administration.
In addition, the Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare which focuses on women as part of its core mandate was also changing focus from women as a undifferentiated group to specifically disadvantaged groups of women, poor, Dalit, Janajat etc.
While in the education sector the school education program, previously under Education for All and now under School Sector Reform Program, funded by many donors under sector wise assistance approach (SWAp) had elaborate GESI strategy and action plans in operation, the local development ministry had developed a series of operational guide lines for implementation in local development programs. The Health and Population and Agriculture were in the process of developing their operational guide lines.
MoLD’s Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) Policy (2009) and Social Mobilization:
Guidelines, 2009: These two policies are particularly notable at the strategy level. They together are designed to ensure bottom up planning, implementation and monitoring of local development programs with inclusion of both women and disadvantaged groups in the process; and that the social mobilization process is transformative.
The transformational approach is different from the earlier transactional approach, which focused on organizing people into groups and supporting them to mobilize resources for their own benefits.
The transformational approach recognizes that poor and socially marginalized people have specific barriers to involvement in group activities and sharing of benefits.
It therefore focuses on empowering citizens (particularly the disadvantaged groups) so that they can raise their voice, claim assets and services and influence policy decisions.
In this vain, the Social Mobilization Guidelines lay down the following strategies (2009:9) (a) social mobilization through independent service providers (b)strengthening the capacity of social mobilizers and service providers through pre-job and on the job trainings, (c) building citizen’s capability for meaningful social accounting (d) working with elites to get their support in bringing disadvantaged groups into the mainstream (e) including so far left-out households in the process of planning, implementation and decision-making of VDCs/municipalities, (f) coordinating MoLD social mobilization processes with those of other programs and projects, and (g) strengthening the capacities of DDCs to coordinate all social mobilization activities in the district. GESI proposes a pyramid of institutions from the grassroots to the district level to implement this approach.
SSRP planning process: In school education, formally, the annual planning system is bottom up, from the community, school to the central level. The community management system includes representatives of women and disadvantaged groups up to the district level.
All GoN and community managed schools have to develop their Annual School Implementation Plan (ASIP) before the budget preparation and send it to the district together with their demands for various scholarships and other expenses.
The ASIP planning process is supposed to start from collecting the views of parents’ meeting on the following written questions:
• Why do you think the school is good?
• What are the negative aspects of school?
• What are the positive aspects of school?
• What should be done for the improvement of school?
Based on the suggestions and views of the guardians, policies and programs are developed by the committee.
Budget is estimated on the basis of the vision, objectives and programs. The process involves the head teacher, teachers and the accountant.
A Resource Person10 supervises and monitors the process. When the plan is complete, it is submitted to the Resource Person, who then takes it to the District Education Office, where the plans of all schools in the districts are consolidated into a district education plan and sent to the Department of Education for inclusion in the Budget.
(EFA since 2004 and secondary education under SESP since 2005, have incorporated gender and inclusion issues adequately at the policy level (Acharya and Koirala, 2010).
A gender and caste, ethnicity disaggregated half yearly monitoring system from school to the national level (Flash Reports I and II) with multiple output and outcome indicators (enrolment, retention, pass rates, percent of teachers etc) from school to the National level is already in place.
Labor Policies: In the context of changing political and economic context, labor policy and employment policies have acquired a new prominence.
With the political transformation in progress, the increasing importance accorded to equal employment opportunities for all — youth, women, Adibasi/Janajati, dalits, elderly, differently capacitated and other disadvantaged sections and groups⎯the changing structure of the economy and the increasing importance of foreign employment as source of income in the National economy, a fundamental directional change has occurred in labor policy.
Employment promotion and elimination of the worst forms of child labor have become their major concerns.
The TYIP, specifically aimed to create employment opportunities for women and other excluded groups and set quantitative targets for their skill training as well as provisioned to ensure a gender friendly, equitable and safe work place and migrant worker policies.
Labor policies and acts: The Labor Department has formulated a Labor and Employment Policy, 2062 (2005) for the first time.
It incorporates he right to work approach as per the Interim Constitution (2007) and aims to ensure equal access to employment for women, Dalits, Adibasi/Janajati and the differently capacitated. It is quite sensitive to the needs of women and other disadvantaged groups.
Similarly, a Foreign Employment Act, 2064 (2007), has also been passed with the major focus on facilitating equal opportunity to all in foreign employment and to specifically protect rights of the foreign migrants workers, especially women.
The skill training implemented through the Directorate of Vocational and Skill Development Training Centre (VSDTCs) and its 12 regional and regional VSDTCs, has redesigned and expanded its training programs to cater to the needs of the poor and disadvantaged women, Janajatis, Dalits, Madhesis, Muslims, differently capacitated and other disadvantaged groups.
Dr. Acharya is associated with Tanka Prasad Acharya Memorial Foundation.
# Thanks the distinguished author Dr. Acharya: ED. Upadhyaya.