Friday, February 9, 2018

Gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEWE) in Africa: Institutional culture shift

GEWE in foreign aid since Beijing
 Enthusiasm in the late 1990s, quietness in the early 2000s, steadily growing attention and contestation since the late 2000s
 The organisational origin of aid agencies (bank, foundation, diplomacy, etc.) significantly influences how GEWE is taken up
 The challenges of even committed agencies to seriously address GEWE (domestic politics, organisational pressures and priorities at the headquarter level)

Implementation challenges
Challenges at the country level of aid agencies:
 Numerous, changing priorities and overstretched staff
 Limited capacities
 Gender focal points are often junior staff working part-time on GEWE
 Limited room for manoeuvre → Attention to GEWE becomes a tick-box exercise

Challenges in African countries
 Government commitment: GEWE in national politics
 Stability, fragility and post-conflict recovery
 Religious and customary authorities
 Gender relations are power relations and deeply embedded in cultures that change only slowly (like in Europe)

Recommendations (1)
 Prioritise the priorities and recognise the political limitations
 Perceive the institutional culture shift as a 10years, SDG-like project
 Be realistic – avoid: ‘We were bad in the past, we will be good in the future.’
 Delegate as much as possible to country offices permitting these to carry out pragmatic aid management (flexible, context dependent, politically sensitive, and liberal in relation to EU policies)

Recommendations (2)
 Distinguish between types of African countries:
– Strong governments committed to GEWE: Budget support and political dialogue
– Governments not committed to GEWE: Targeted activities
– Fragile situations: Targeted activities
– Post-conflict recovery: Targeted activities and political dialogue

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