2003 BH: Extended Annual Review of UNICEF Bosnia-Herzegovina Country Programme 2002-2004: Gender Assessment
Author: Mannheimer, C.
The most important aspect of UNICEF's gender mainstreaming policy is that gender analysis is integrated in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of UNICEF-supported activities. The intention is that a gender analysis should form part of the development and implementation of all projects. This is to make sure that gender equality is systematically promoted by the activities carried out.
This assessment of the extent of integration of gender analysis in the planning and implementation of UNICEF programmes in BiH was initiated as part of the Extended Annual Review of UNICEF and BiH country programme of cooperation 2002-2004. The objectives of the assessment were:
- To assess the systems, mechanisms, responsibilities and accountabilities set up in the Country Office for ensuring implementation of the UNICEF policy on gender mainstreaming
- To assess the extent of integration of gender analysis, planning tools and gender-sensitive indicators in the programme/project framework, objectives and implementation
- To identify gaps/needs/areas for support
This assessment made no attempt to evaluate UNICEF-supported projects and their outcomes. It provides a description of mechanisms for gender mainstreaming set up in the UNICEF BiH office, and an overview of the extent of gender mainstreaming in UNICEF-supported projects as well as attitudes among UNICEF staff and partners towards gender.
The methodology used included:
- Review of documents and reports
- Participation in consultation meetings during the Extended Review consultations in February and March 2003
- Interviews with UNICEF programme staff
- Interviews with selected key persons in UNICEF's implementing partner organisations
The analysis of the UNICEF programme documents (MPO and PPO) is based on recommendations made in the UNICEF Gender Mainstreaming Guide. In all parts of the assessment, a variety of analytical tools were used. The gender analysis is based on the concept of gender-blind and gender-aware policies. It also takes into account the triple role of women - reproductive, productive and community work - and the practical and strategic gender needs discussed by Caroline Moser. During the interviews, questions provided in the 'UNICEF Gender Mainstreaming Guide' and the 'How to Address Gender Disparities in the Five MTSP areas' were tried out and used.
Findings and Conclusions:
This assessment shows that gender is not systematically mainstreamed through UNICEF's programmes and projects. Nevertheless, many examples of positive gender outcomes can be observed in several projects. Sometimes, these are pointed at as evidence that gender mainstreaming is not needed. From another perspective, they show the potential of gender mainstreaming - that is, the results that might be achieved if gender can be lifted from the level of individual initiatives to a systematic approach.
In general, the attitude among UNICEF BiH staff members and UNICEF implementing partners to gender mainstreaming is predominantly open and positive. During the past two years, considerable progress has been made to move towards the integration of a gender perspective in programming, including:
- Appointment of a Gender Focal Point as a resource for gender mainstreaming
- A gender training workshop was held for all programme staff in February 2001
- MPO objectives make clear references to the CEDAW and women's rights
- New projects have been initiated on domestic violence and prevention of trafficking of women and children specifically addressing women's rights and resulting in strengthened links between UNICEF and women's NGOs
- UNICEF also began to integrate CEDAW into its rights promotion approach at the policy level through supporting government to prepare the first CEDAW report and to implement the new Gender Equality Law
- Adjustments are sometimes made during project implementation based on feedback from the field in order to better target and meet the needs of girls and boys, women and men. These changes provide good examples of the possible outcome of gender mainstreaming, which can be transferred to other projects and activities.
Despite these positive developments, this assessment reveals that a gender perspective has not been systematically mainstreamed throughout the programme cycle. A gender perspective is not systematically incorporated throughout the programme cycle in accordance with UNICEF's policy on mainstreaming gender. Most projects are gender-blind in the sense that the gender dimension has not been systematically included in the development of the project, or in the monitoring and evaluation of its outcomes. The extent of the integration of a gender perspective seems to be largely a result of the perceptions and priorities of the project officers, or the implementing partner's previous experience.
The operational meaning of gender mainstreaming unclear - Gender mainstreaming is often perceived as a vague and academic concept. Gender is often understood as women's rights and women's projects, which entails that boys and men are excluded from the discourse. Several UNICEF staff members and partners state that it is difficult to understand what gender mainstreaming would entail and would bring about, on an operational level.
Lack of comprehensive gender analysis and gender-disaggregated data - Even if gender disparities and inequalities in the BiH society are recognised, a common opinion is that gender-based discrimination does not constitute a problem of substantial magnitude. Few consider it an issue of priority: "It is important but not urgent". This perception is reinforced by the lack of gender analyses in key programme documents, and the fact that structural gender inequalities, and their basic causes, are not systematically identified and highlighted.
Lack of mechanisms and standards - In UNICEF BiH office, there are considerable uncertainties on how to do it. There is a general need for country-specific guidelines on how to implement and monitor gender mainstreaming, in combination with good examples and best practices. Needs include: training on operational tools and clarification of important concepts such as gender redistributive policies and women's strategic needs; earmarked resources and time for the implementation of gender mainstreaming; and adequate support from persons with gender-specific knowledge. The Gender Focal Point needs a TOR and a realistic working plan. There is also a common perception that the gender-mainstreaming tools should be adapted to the specific context in BiH.
Lack of dialogue and information - None of the implementing partner organisations state that they have been informed of the UNICEF gender-mainstreaming policy. Few say that the gender issue has been brought up in discussions by UNICEF at the planning phase of a project. Among the UNICEF staff members, there is no common understanding or approach on how to work with partners in regard to gender mainstreaming. Dialogue and networks between implementing partners and national women's NGOs with comprehensive knowledge and experience of gender mainstreaming can be explored.
When gender inequalities and subsequent goals are not clearly identified anywhere in the programme cycle, it is up to the judgement of individual UNICEF programme/project officers and implementing partners to determine whether such problems exist and if they need to be addressed. The conclusion can be very different as the perceptions and attitudes among both UNICEF staff and partners are very diverse, from almost total denial to the opinion that gender-based discrimination is a big problem in BiH.
Gender mainstreaming runs the risk to be dispatched as "Western ideas of how women and men should be", instead of perceived as a tool to identify and avoid possible discrimination. Obvious differences between girls and boys, women and men are explained as "cultural" or "natural", but not analysed as possible discrimination. As the presence of actual gender-based discrimination is not analysed, UNICEF runs the risk to reinforce existing stereotype gender roles and existing gender inequalities.
Elaboration of a BiH UNICEF country programme specific policy - A country-specific, written policy would reaffirm UNICEF's commitment to gender mainstreaming, and provide important guidance for the particular context of BiH.
Selection of pilot project - Two or three pilot projects could be selected as case studies in how to implement gender mainstreaming. These projects should not be women-specific, but addressing women and men, girls and boys. One important objective for such a pilot project could be to transfer good examples of gender mainstreaming from existing women-specific projects, such as prevention of domestic violence. This would promote the creation of links and networks between implementing partners and national NGOs and other actors with relevant gender expertise.
Incorporation of a gender perspective in key programme documents - During the pilot projects, a gender perspective should be integrated in key documents. In the beginning of the next country programme cycle, it is also recommended that a gender perspective and analysis is elaborated by a gender specialist and incorporated in the Situation Analysis in line with the recommendations made in the Gender Mainstreaming Guide.
Training on gender and how to use gender mainstreaming tools - Even if the pilot projects will function as a capacity-building exercise in themselves, additional training might be needed. The level of awareness on gender issues varies among both UNICEF staff members and partners. Both training on operational tools (developed during the pilot projects), and sensitisation on the concept might be necessary in order to create a common basic understanding of gender mainstreaming.
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