UNDP Strengthens Its Role in Gender Equality

Aug 8, 2017

The United Nations compound security guards Polito Leota and Lotutamaiti Uati providng excellent service in a role traditionally seen as man’s job. Photo credit: UNDP/N.Vaa/2017.

The United Nations Development Programme’s mandate declares gender equality and the empowerment of women as key aspects of its development approach. This commitment to gender equality includes supporting women’s and girls’ equal rights, addressing discrimination and inequality, promoting non-gender stereotypes and challenging historically shaped roles of women.

Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment training for UNDP staff and project partners, including representatives of the Government of Samoa took place during last week, 24-28 July 2017 in Apia, Samoa. The workshop was organised to strengthen UNDP’s role in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Pacific through ensuring that gender concerns are addressed in its current and future programmes and projects. The objective of the training was to increase understanding on how to integrate gender aspects in the planning and monitoring of projects and in reporting and communicating results. 

Ms. Koh Miyaoi, Gender Advisor from UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub led and facilitated the workshop. Ms. Miyaoi says “the first change that we would like to see is that colleagues in UNDP think about gender equality and gender mainstreaming in much more contextual and realistic sense for our projects and see what steps we can actually take through our projects towards gender equality as opposed to just understanding the concept as more of an academic exercise.”

During interactive sessions with staff from different departments of the UNDP Multi-country office and Government ministries, participants were encouraged to share experiences, challenges faced and best practices in the design and implementation of projects in gender perspective.

Meetings with staff involved in projects with similar contexts (e.g. the Environment team of UNDP and their colleagues from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment) were aimed at identifying how their projects are aligned with UNDP’s role in promoting gender equality and how gender inequality might have an impact on the project.

“Through this exercise we realised that UNDP in Samoa has done a lot of good work in managing gender and delivering gender equality results and now we can revisit our achievement to really understand the contribution we have already made and help us to find the way to improve our performance in future projects,” said Ms. Miyaoi.

According to Ms. Miyaoi, Pacific island countries are behind in two major gender equality indicators: representation of women in national parliament and prevalence of gender based violence. Both of these issues are the manifestation of gender inequality in society. Ms. Miyaoi explained: “UNDP may or may not have a direct engagement in these two areas but we have opportunities to address them by addressing underlying causes for gender inequality.”

One of the participants of the workshop Utulei Lui, Senior Strategic Planner at PUMA, MNRE commented on the possible change, that a gender balanced approach would bring: “In most villages women are the driving force of the community. They plan, arrange and implement small projects (e.g. vegetable gardens). Women’s voices in the decision-making process which at present is responsibility of the village council, often comprised of men only, would increase effectiveness and provide substantial changes in outcomes of the development projects that we are offering to the communities.”

The success of the Millennium Development Goals globally demonstrated that the progress in gender equality indicators underpinned the success of achieving MDGs in general. According to the Gender Advisor, there is a lot of direct evidence from around the world to show that gender equality is good for development. In UNDP, gender equality is promoted as a matter of human rights as well as a factor that helps to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In her final address to UNDP staff and their colleagues in the Government of Samoa, Ms. Miyaoi said: “Every project and every colleague has an opportunity to contribute to gender equality results. And we should capture those opportunities. Each project has to send a message to the community that we want to hear more from women because we value men and women equally.”

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