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Gender “mainstreaming” — not (actually) lost in translation

Patricia Fernandes's picture

Available in 中文

Changes were made in the way village meetings were run so women would participate more.

Whenever and wherever the Bank supports a project, to “mainstream” gender is one of the goals. The idea is a fairly simple one. Right? Making sure that men and women benefit equally from the poverty reduction activities we support. 

There are a number of tools we produce to help us achieve this—Gender Analysis, Regional Gender Action Plans, County Gender Action Plans, Gender Disaggregated Outcome Indicators, Gender Check-Lists, Strategies and Tool-Kits, etc. So looking at the amount of guidance we seem to need one might be forgiven for thinking this is an exceedingly complex task and for wondering whether in reality (i.e. after that board approval is done and the real work of implementation begins) all of the “gender mainstreaming language” doesn’t get a little lost in translation… 

How to mainstream gender in transport? It should not be complicated for transport engineers

Julie Babinard's picture

The ambiguities surrounding the interpretation of the word gender and what it means to ‘mainstream gender’ in relation to transport could prove to be a significant obstacle to those who plan and provide transport infrastructure and services, especially in developing economies.

The necessity to ensure gender equality as a primary goal in all area(s) of social and economic development was highlighted at the United Nations Fourth World Conference held in Beijing, China in 1995 and the concept of gender mainstreaming was defined by the 1997 United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as 'a strategy for making women's as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of […] the policies and programs in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated'.

The transport sector at the World Bank has been a leader in gender mainstreaming. The transport sector, as is the case in many other aspects of cross-sectoral interventions, has been leading the way in its response to the mainstreaming effort. Significant research has been undertaken along with the delivery of successful operations to address the specific needs and constraints of men and women in transportation.

Establishing Norms in Large Organizations (Or: How to Win the Turf War)

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Wharton Professor Galit Sarfaty just published a paper on changing norms in international institutions, using as an example the advance of the human rights agenda in the World Bank. The study describes the process of how new norms are adopted - or not - in large organizations and how different factions negotiate their positions. It's well worth a read and spells out the difficulties of reforming organizations and establishing new norms.