Note No 140
UNITED NATIONS AND OECD HOLD JOINT WORKSHOP ON
VIENNA, 27 April (UN Information Service) – The United Nations Office in Vienna hosted a Workshop on Governance, Poverty Reduction and Gender Equality between 23 and 25 April 2001. The workshop was jointly organized by the United Nations Inter-agency Committee on Women and Gender Equality (IAMWGE) and the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Working Party on Gender Equality.
The meeting brought together participants from a broad range of organizations from the UN system and DAC member countries. It built on the three previous joint workshops – addressing Gender Mainstreaming (Geneva 1997), the Rights-based Approach to Gender Equality (Rome 1998), and Women’s Empowerment in the context of Human Security (Bangkok, 1999). It also formed part of the follow-up to the Twenty-third Special Session of the General Assembly, Beijing +5. The discussions focused on concrete actions to promote stronger inter-linkages between governance, poverty reduction and gender equality at both policy and operational levels.
At the conclusion of the Workshop the participants issued the following Communique:
"Gender Reponsive Governance and Poverty Reduction
Good governance, gender equality and women’s empowerment are necessary conditions for the reduction of poverty. The importance of these factors is affirmed by numerous international instruments on human rights and social justice. There is also a large body of evidence showing that gender equality enhances good government and poverty reduction. Sustainable poverty reduction requires the full involvement of women as central actors in the processes of governance.
Good governance has been defined as the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority to manage a nation’s affairs, and the complex mechanisms, processes, relationship and institutions through which citizens’ groups articulate their interests, exercise their rights and obligations and mediate their differences. Accountability, transparency, participation and legitimacy are core elements. Gender responsiveness is essential to all of these, and is a measure of good governance. Analysis and action on gender issues, the participation of women as well as men in governance processes at all levels, and the recognition by institutions of women’s rights and needs, are as central to good governance as to poverty reduction.
A number of entry points exist for bringing gender issues to bear on the linkages between good governance and poverty reduction. These include, among others:
Gender analysis should be integral to all of these instruments and processes. Progress to date has been inconsistent and often weak. Much needs to be done to build commitment and develop good practice. Examples include the importance of strengthening country gender theme groups within UN country teams and offices to bring together governments, donors, and civil society to achieve these goals.
Gender responsive pro-poor governance depends on dynamic and active partnerships in the social and political fora that elaborate and redefine public policy. Together, these strategic partnerships can uphold the right of citizens to participation, information and accountability. They need to include civil society and especially women’s networks at grass-roots, local, national and global levels. Other key factors in building alliances include:
Addressing governance and poverty reduction from a gender perspective presents a challenge to earlier development paradigms and brings broad-based benefits for all. Gender responsive budgets, for example, provide a new and potentially effective mechanism for ensuring greater transparency and accountability in the allocation of public funds.
The workshop recognized the importance of informed and constructive dialogue among all partners and identified a number of priority actions for future work:
The links between gender equality, good governance and poverty reduction need to be addressed in forthcoming global events, including the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in May 2001, the UN General Assembly special session on HIV/AIDS in June 2001, and the International Conference on Financing for Development in early 2002. The UN Secretary General’s forthcoming road map for the implementation of the Millennium Declaration also provides a key opportunity to underline these links."
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