Sunday, November 1, 2015

Inclusion of women in decision-making: facilitating women’s social and political development 3/4

The underlying cause of gender inequality on all levels (political, social and cultural) is the exclusion of women from decision-making processes at all levels – from households to national parliaments and other institutions such as courts.
Progressio has identified that giving women a voice in decision-making is a key factor to lift women and girls out of poverty. In states with weak governance structures, decision-making is often carried out in social institutions, which function according to certain rules. These can be either inclusive or exclusive to groups.
Research has shown that social institutions are hindering equal participation of women: “Social institutions have gained currency as a framework to explain what is stopping women and girls from achieving equal outcomes in areas such as education, employment, business, health and political participation.”17 Strategic, targeted investment in opening up social institutions to women and girls will be crucial in order to meet development goals.
Progressio envisions targets that support women to have a greater voice and influence in decision-making, which the Gender and Development Network (GADN) has summarised as transformative targets.18 A gender goal needs to be action orientated and measurable. Political institutions, governments and governance structures have the power to help change the status of women and create an equal society in which everyone can participate in political and economic development. This is exemplified by a Progressio project in Somaliland, supporting NAGAAD, the network of women’s organisations in Somaliland, through our development worker Edna Onyango:
[I was] conducting an action-oriented policy dialogue workshop with the three political parties of Somaliland that also saw the attendance of the Somaliland Women’s caucus members, civil society organisations and youth. The outcome of this workshop was the expression of political will by the three political party leaders to further promote, protect and defend women’s rights through the reservation of seats for women members and the support for gender mainstreaming in political party structures.19
The situation in Yemen is an example of the problems that many developing countries, but especially fragile states, face. Progressio in Yemen is calling for a gender-focused development framework based on maximum participation of women in planning, implementation and monitoring of development interventions.20 Key to improvement is giving women a voice and a choice. What is needed?
To build a just and participatory society where citizens have the regular opportunity to play an active role in making decisions that affect their lives and in holding their government accountable, there is a need for participation of marginalised and vulnerable groups in political processes. This may be gained through civic education and awareness, promoting effective governance through better advocacy campaigns and participation, developing vibrant civil societies through capacity building, education and networking, and effective local governance through citizens’ networks and involvement in policy and planning.21

Authors: Lizzette Robleto-Gonzalez and Fatima Haase For further information, please contact: Lizzette Robleto-Gonzalez, policy officer on women and fragile states, Media enquiries: Esther Trewinnard,
Women and fragile states: Empowered women must be active participants in decision-making
Progressio policy briefing for the post-2015 discussions

17 Cerise, S, and Francavilla, F, 2012, Tackling the root causes of gender inequalities in the post-2015 development agenda, OECD
Development Centre, p2,
18 As note 12, p7
19 Interview with Edna Onyango, Progressio website,
20 As note 11
21 As note 11

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