The focus of this chapter is to review critically and synthesize relevant knowledge about how and when specific levels of instruments and/ or policy interventions work to empower women and thereby increase gender equality, as stated by the World Bank (2001). Decision-making procedures should be changed to make room for female influences, styles and characteristics as well as in implementation. Participation of women in decision-making processes should the corner stone of Zimbabwe’s ethos as a democratic nation. Zimbabwe should take an active role in promoting gender balance in decision-making. It is important to have balanced participation of women and men at all levels of decision making.
Gender equality is central to human development and to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as to the enhancement of development effectiveness, (UNDP, 2011). MDGs attach great importance to gender equality and women's empowerment in all facets of life. Gender mainstreaming is one of the strategies that the UN utilises to promote the integration of gender perspectives into the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes (UNDP, 2011). Gender equity is giving boys and girls, women and men equal opportunities in the utilisation of personal capabilities to realize full human rights (UNDP, 2011).
There are many studies that have been done by scholars across the world to find association between women empowerment and socio- economic performance. There is empirical evidence that the promotion of gender equity leads to better economic performance of the concerned societies. One such study was done by Stephan Klasen who said that gender gaps undermined “the ability of women to be effective agents of economic process. Societies with greater female employment opportunities are less prone to corruption and poor governance”, (Klasen, 2006:151).
2.2 Overview of global efforts on gender equality
Despite efforts made to ensure that female representation is achieved at all levels of governance, women are still underrepresented in many government and non-government organizations, particularly in positions of power and leadership. According to Campbell (2003:7-8), women’s current position is the result of the historical fact that Zimbabwe’s transition from white colonial rule did not dismantle the structures of patriarchy or oppression, which happen to serve the current regime just as well.
2.3 Historical Background of Gender Equality
According to a UN report of 1997, gender equality, also known as sex equality or sexual equality, is the goal of the equality of the genders, stemming from a belief in the injustice of myriad forms of gender inequality. This goal includes making women’s rights equal to men's and also making men’s rights equal to women's.
Although the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, 1972 saw the establishment of the UN Environment Program (UNEP), officially linked the physical environment and society in its title, in the 1960s and 1970s social issues were still largely disconnected from environmental policies and programs. When the World Conservation Strategy living resource conservation for sustainable development the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) was launched in 1980, the focus of that document on social-environmental linkages still was presented in a gender-neutral way.
The Third United Nations Women’s Conference in Nairobi in 1985, however, was among the first international forum that made explicit the linkages between sustainable development and women’s involvement and empowerment as well as gender equality and equity. In the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies, the environment was included as an area of concern for women. During the Nairobi...