Promoting Gender Responsive delivery of public services

Women face significant disadvantages in most countries of the world. Whether its female civil servants or women citizens, there are many hurdles they have to overcome to access the same facilities as their male counterparts. This section highlights unique programs that have attempted to level the playing field for women in different spheres of life.

Mission Convergence, India 18

The objective of Mission Convergence was inclusive and sustainable development in Delhi focusing primarily on women’s empowerment and gender responsive delivery of public services. The government endeavoured to promote women’s empowerment by organizing women in Self Help Groups, imparting skills, creating micro enterprises and providing livelihood.

Despite witnessing economic growth, Delhi suffered from a lot of inequality. Exclusion errors in poverty estimation prevented benefits from reaching the most vulnerable. It was felt that the government approach was scheme centric rather than household centric. Mission Convergence was launched to tackle these issues. The mission was executed in a planned manner. Gender Resource Centres (GRC) were used as bases for poverty mapping to identify households run by single women and also the aged. Sharing of information and database management were essential for a unified scheme. Single window delivery points and facilitation centres were created through GRCs to gather information on legal rights and help applicants fill out forms. Already established infrastructure was utilized to provide quality services that proved to be cost effective. These services included non-formal education, vocational training, medical camps, microfinance activities, legal awareness drives and general assistance. Convergence Forums held periodic meetings to discuss the results being achieved. GRCs also became registrars for the government’s Unique Identification program. Advanced technology was utilized to connect community structures with stakeholders. Partnerships with poor women ensured their participation.

Since poverty is officially measured only by income, many citizens vulnerable in other respects were being excluded from welfare programs. To bring these people under its purview, the government developed a more holistic non-income criterion to measure vulnerability. Constraints such as accountability and transparency were tackled by bringing NGOs under the Right to Information Act. Other challenges such as resistance from bureaucracy, trust deficit and cynicism were tackled through discussion and engagement with stakeholders. The mission’s experience highlighted that while international NGOs were efficient in creating training material, local NGOs were far more effective in reaching remote locations.

Isange One Stop Centre, Rwanda 19

Isagne One Stop Centres (IOSC) were set up in 2009 by the Rwanda National Police to provide timely, affordable, quality services to victims of gender based violence (GBV) and child abuse. IOSCs are located within police hospitals and provide free services round the clock. They help victims of GBV by providing a haven where they feel safe and there is no risk of tainted evidence. These centres help gather tangible evidence that can be used for criminal proceedings.

18 Background paper and presentation in Annex 6.1

Rwanda chose to position these services at hospitals as they were well connected with police and legal teams. It was also felt that medical care was the most important service in these cases. Countries can decide where to place these centres depending on the synergy between relevant departments. In Rwanda, victims, community police instructors or any other relative can contact these police hospitals in person or through a toll-free line. Community police instructors are stationed at the grassroots level to aid the police. These include youth volunteers and GBV committees. Police hospitals provide a complete array of services including legal, medical and psychological and social services. These are managed jointly by the police and Ministries of Health and Justice. Social workers ensure that victims receive full treatment and get help accessing in judicial services. These centres minimized the number of interviews a victim has to go through while reporting her case to reduce trauma. The hospital is well equipped with safe rooms for evaluation of victims. There is a provision to keep victims at the hospital in case their homes are unsafe. Officials follow up on cases to ensure reintegration of victims into society.

These centres face many challenges. A victim’s consent is required to collect evidence and report a case formally. As is true in many parts of the world, there is a culture of silence in Rwanda wherein victims often do not wish to report on family members but do avail services. Centres also struggle to handle the number of cases that come to them given their limited capacity. Since the parliament of Rwanda has a large representation of women, the scheme has been encouraged greatly. Inter-agency coordination and the presence of early detection and prevention structures like Community Policing have reinforced the scheme. Rwandans have led campaigns vehemently opposing GBV and promoting the right of victims to seek justice. Rwandans are encouraged to hold healthy discussions about village issues. One Stop Centers have enhanced cooperation between different departments, increased reporting rate by more than 50% and are now being replicated across the country.

A multi-sectoral approach with diversified partnership has proven successful in addressing GBV in Rwanda. Placing these centres within police hospitals has also helped ensure their sustainability.

Chapéu de Palha Mulher, Brazil 20

Chapéu de Palha Mulher was started in 2007 by the Women’s Secretariat of the Government of Pernambuco to help rural women gain better control over their lives and improve its quality both economically and socially. Prior to the program, the state of Pernambuco had been stagnant in terms of economic development and there was pervasive gender inequality. Perhaps the low share of women parliamentarians contributed to this.

Deep historic divides already existed between the White and Black populations in the region. This along with gender discrimination created a double whammy for indigenous and Black women trying to survive in Brazil. The situation demanded action to empower women and build capacities through personal and professional training so that they could gain control of their fates rather than be victims of exacerbating circumstances. Chapéu de Palha Mulher helped rural women build capacities, migrate to better paying jobs and access better health, education and livelihood opportunities. The program was targeted at women in agriculture and related jobs and deployed during the lean season when incomes are low. To facilitate participation in the program, women were provided a stipend, childcare, food and transportation.

The strategies adopted for this program were socio-political training, expansion of formal education, introduction to the market, partnership with civil society and establishment of a network of public policy agents for women. Various educational courses were run and discussions about gender and ethnicity held. These measures aimed at increasing self- confidence of the beneficiaries, knowledge about their rights and instilling ambition and hope in them. Finally, vocational training provided women with better livelihood opportunities. The government, entrepreneurs and NGOs collaborated to formulate policies towards delivering quality education to women. Positive impact of the program is gradually becoming evident. 74% women have received training in citizenship courses and 24% in professional courses. Certain governmental structures like the Commission for Rural Women and the Rural Women Centre have been set up under the program. In addition, the program has succeeded in creating a strong network of NGOs for women to promote awareness about gender equality. The program also lowered the bar women’s entry into public training institutions on account of their historical disadvantage and sought to create support for female graduates.

The innovation of linking cash transfers with employment training programs that have a preliminary course in rights and citizenship has worked well and can be adapted in other contexts as well. This program was also successful as it facilitated extensive participation by making arrangements for childcare, transport and food. It is now working to overcome the traditional bias against women in the labour market.

Creating Access to Education for Disadvantaged Women Civil Servants, Ethiopian Civil Service University, Ethiopia 21

Gender discrimination is as widely prevalent in Ethiopia as in many parts of the world in all walks of life. A unique initiative was conceived of in the country in 2010 to support women civil servants, particularly those hailing from less developed parts of the country to avail of opportunities for higher education, skill building and refresher courses at the Ethiopian Civil Service University (ECSU). The mechanism aimed to promote gender inclusiveness through resident scholarships in higher education in Public Administration for disadvantaged women civil servants and women faculty members. The program has been funded by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development through a donor funded project on Public Sector Capacity Building programme.

The initiative was designed after consultation with all stakeholders – the University board, Administrative council, Senate members, Ministers of Federal Affairs, Women, Youth and Child Affairs and women leaders. The successful implementation of this initiative required dealing with a host of challenges. Faculty members were not positively inclined to take it on and initially pushed for extremely strict entrance exams. Women students had low self- esteem and were hesitant to apply. Moreover, male students were unhappy with the initiative. There were also concerns about retaining the women through the duration of the course. Discussions, workshops and seminars were held with the faculty members and students to familiarize them with the idea behind the initiative and bring them on board. Women students were provided a semester of pre-department training in English, mathematics, assertiveness and stress management before their core courses started. Tutorials, Internet access, guidance counselling and gynaecological services were also made available. In addition, they were given financial and material support to stay in the program and had the incentive of being promoted once they received their degrees. It was felt that women faculty would help these students feel more comfortable and would also provide role models. The University advertised aggressively for suitable women faculty.

This program succeeded due to the initial push from the University and stakeholders. The demand for these scholarships increased overtime. Now there are more women civil servants in higher education programs than ever before and the number of women faculty members has also gone up. Sceptics have slowly begun to see the positive impact of the program in creating new leaders for the country. Other institutions have started offering similar programs as well.

The Gender Approach in the State Budget, Ecuador 22

Ecuador’s Ministry of Finance introduced the Gender approach in the State budget because earlier it was difficult to track funds allocated to tackling gender bias. Since 2005, the gender responsive budgeting initiative has helped bring a gender based perspective to national planning and budgeting. In executing this initiative awareness amongst officials was created regarding the importance of gender budgeting. The necessary tools and techniques to incorporate a gender perspective in the budget were developed through consultation and by using experiences from other countries. The policy was implemented over various stages. Stage one consisted of the discussions at the Ministry of Finance on gender issues followed by the next stage where an agreement was signed with UN women. The German Technical Cooperation (GIZ) was roped in. In the third stage the Ministry of Finance and other public entities were made aware about the importance of gender equality. Tools were created for registration of gender resources and reports were prepared so as to maintain transparency. Collaboration with the General State Comptroller expanded gender approach in public service through audits.

There was a general ignorance in Ecuador about gender inclusiveness and awareness camps were set up to address this. The new approach met with resistance from Ministry staff, as it seemed to increase workload. However, concerted effort and advocacy coupled with budgetary allocations have succeeded in establishing the new approach. A culture of transparency and accountability in reporting funding for reducing gender gaps has been nurtured. Various reports like the Classified Expenditure in Gender Policy and Gender Equity Reports help monitor gender budgets and carry out follow-ups. Women’s organizations and university students have begun using these statistics for reach and analysis and to campaign for better policies. The policy has promoted women’s empowerment and equal opportunities in the work place.

Key Takeaways

Gender inequality is an international issue and disadvantages women face are common across geographies.

  • Changing attitudes requires conscious effort and commitment from policy makers.
  • Increasing women’s access to education through specialized scholarships or through training programs is an important step in this direction.
  • Care must be taken to make women feel confident enough to access these new opportunities by providing training in assertiveness and creating awareness about rights.
  • Any skill-development program must compensate women for foregone earnings during the course and also make provisions for childcare.
  • When dealing with issues like gender based violence, policies should be designed to ease the victim’s trauma. This may involve simplification of procedures, State support for reintegration and help for accessing judicial recourse.
  • All programs featured here have worked through extensive collaboration amongst stakeholders and by addressing concerns that hold women back from participating in programs that can benefit them.

  • Gender inclusiveness programs should work towards achieving more tangible results and should aim for the Gender Equality Seal (GES) certification of the UN.