Gender Mainstreaming

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QUESTION: Discuss how gender can be mainstreamed into the Zambian policies, giving examples where possible.

The Zambian society is dominated by patriarchal structures internalized in both the traditional and cultures and in both political and economic systems. This is reflected in unequal gender roles, with regard to participation in decision-making and economic opportunities. The patriarchal system and practices constitutes an obstacle to poverty eradication and democracy, which requires gender equality and equity. Women are in an under-privileged position with regard to access and control over resources and political influence, and with regard to their ability to enjoy human rights and other rights Granted to them by the Zambian constitution or international conventions (Mette, 2006). This essay will critically discuss how gender can be mainstreamed into the Zambian policies. It will start by defining gender mainstreaming and create an understanding of what it’s all about, and then discuss how it can be mainstreamed in the Zambian policies.

The concept of bringing gender issues into the mainstream of society was clearly established as a global strategy for promoting gender equality in the Platform for Action adopted at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing China in 1995. It highlighted the necessity to ensure that gender equality is a primary goal in all areas of social and economic development. At the Fourth UN International Conference on Women In July 1997, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) defined the concept of gender mainstreaming as follows: "Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in any area and at all levels. It is a strategy for making the concerns and experiences of women as well as of men an integral part of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres, so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal of mainstreaming is to achieve gender equality (ECOSOC, 1997). In simple terms gender mainstreaming can be defined as “a process to ensure that both men and women have equal access and control over resources, decision-making, and benefits at all stages of the development process and projects. It is a globally accepted strategy for promoting gender equality. Mainstreaming is not an end in itself but a strategy, an approach, a means to achieve the goal of gender equality. Mainstreaming involves ensuring that gender perspectives and attention to the goal of gender equality are central to all activities such as policy development, research, advocacy/ dialogue, legislation, resource allocation, planning, implementation and monitoring of programmes and projects. Gender mainstreaming is an approach to integrating women’s and men’s concerns and experiences into the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres. The ultimate goal is to ensure that both genders benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated. Mainstreaming is not about adding a "woman's component" or even a "gender equality component" into an existing activity. It goes beyond increasing women's participation; it means bringing the experience, knowledge, and interests of women and men to bear on the development agenda. Mainstreaming ensures that the needs of both men and women are accommodated and this includes women’s productive capacity to alleviate poverty and maximise economic input. Empowering women can result in poverty reduction within their homes because women tend to invest more into their family’s welfare than men. Mainstreaming can increase women’s access to and influence on decision-makers and their ability to take full advantage of available resources...
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