BARRIERS TO GENDER EQUALITY IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Gender mainstreaming is a synthesizing concept that addresses the well being of women and men. It is a strategy that is central to the interests of the whole community. The Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing 1995 pushed the dialogue on gender mainstreaming to the fore at an international level and was endorsed by the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action as the approach by which goals under each of its Critical Areas of Concern are to be achieved. All players in the development sector since the Fourth World Conference on Women have been in agreement that gender matters. Since then, widespread commitment has been made by governments, donor agencies, non-government organizations and other international and national players to gender mainstreaming. There is substantial evidence to demonstrate that the key players in the development industry have identified gender equity as a priority objective. For example, each donor agency has a gender strategy paper. Some donors require organizations receiving funds to have a gender policy.
The business of this paper is to identify barriers to gender equality in Project Management. However, a proper understanding of some basic concepts such as Gender, Gender Equality, Gender Mainstreaming, is immediately essential. Basic concepts
Equality, which is the corner stone of democratic nations, successful organizations and a basic human right, are time and space dependent phenomena. At least three historical waves of approaches to equality between the sexes can be distinguished (Horelli, Booth & Gilroy, 1998; Rees, 1998). They are: •
The equal treatment perspective which focuses on the human rights of women and also on those of men. •
The women´s perspective stresses the empowerment of women and the added value that women can bring forth. •
The gender perspective which takes up the relationship between women and men and its structural embededness, which can be seen for example in the vertical and horizontal segregation of labour markets.
Gender is different from sex. Sex identifies the biological differences between males and females. Gender refers to the roles and responsibilities of men and women and the relationship between them. Gender is seen as the social construction of men’s and women’s role in a given culture or location. These socially determined roles are influenced by historical, religious, economic, cultural and ethnic factors. In essence, gender is all the cultural, social and economic characteristics that make women and men act differently and take on different roles in the home, workplace and society.
Gender equality does not necessarily mean equal numbers of men and women or boys and girls in all activities, nor does it necessarily mean treating men and women or boys and girls exactly the same. It signifies an aspiration to work towards a society in which neither women nor men suffer from poverty in its many forms, and in which women and men are able to live equally fulfilling lives. It means recognising that men and women often have different needs and priorities, face different constraints, have different aspirations and contribute to development in different ways.
Gender mainstreaming is the globally accepted strategy for achieving gender equality. It is a means to an end, a tool integrated into project management cycle to further gender equality. Gender mainstreaming covers the whole project cycle because the concern for gender inequalities has to be analyzed in all situations and in every phase of the project intervention.
Gender mainstreaming is therefore a tool to ensuring that:
we do not exacerbate any existing gender inequalities through any project. •
we assess whether the project objectives and outputs will have a differential impact on...
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