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What is Gender Mainstreaming?

Gender mainstreaming has been adopted internationally as a strategy to achieve gender equality. It involves the integration of a gender perspective in the preparation, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, with an overall aim to promote equality between women and men and to fight against all forms of gender-based discrimination. 

During the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, gender mainstreaming was recognised and highlighted as a critical and strategic approach to achieving gender equality commitments. The resulting Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action mandates all stakeholders in development policies and programmes, including UN organisations, member States and civil society actors, to take action in this regard.

The 1997 agreed conclusions of the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) defined gender mainstreaming as: “The process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension 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 is to achieve gender equality.”

As such, gender equality is the overarching and long-term development goal, while gender mainstreaming is a set of specific, strategic approaches as well as technical and institutional processes adopted to achieve that goal. Gender mainstreaming integrates gender equality in national public and private organizations, in central or local policies, and in services and sectoral programmes. In the long run, it aims to transform discriminatory social institutions, laws, cultural norms and community practices, such as those limiting women’s access to property rights or restricting their access to public space.

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© UN Women

 

Mainstreaming gender within ESCAP

ESCAP Photo
© ESCAP Photo/Caio Perim

ESCAP continues to promote gender equality and the human rights and empowerment of women and girls by promoting gender mainstreaming through the full implementation of the System-wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-SWAP 2.0) and the United Nations Country Team System-wide Action Plan (UNCT-SWAP). Particular focus is put on gender-responsive performance management and strategic planning, and enhancing the collection, availability and use of sex-disaggregated data

Commitment to gender equality remains a priority at the highest level of ESCAP. At the global level, gender equality considerations are regularly mainstreamed into all key decision-making bodies, from the Senior Management Group to the Executive Committee convened on a weekly basis, as well as into flagship initiatives such as the “Call to Action for Human Rights” and the Common Agenda. Moreover, ensuring adequate funding for gender-related programming is the key objective of the High-level Task Force on Financing for Gender Equality.

 

Our work on Gender Mainstreaming

At ESCAP, we are committed to mainstreaming gender in the work of all our divisions, subregional offices and regional institutions, as well as in our organisational culture.

The ESCAP Gender Equality Policy (2019-2023) details ESCAP’s commitment to the realisation of gender equality and the empowerment of women in all its areas of work and in the equal representation of women in its staff. The Policy is accompanied by the ESCAP Gender Equality Implementation Plan (2019-2023) which aims to operationalize policies and commitment to gender equality and the empowerment of women. The plan outlines the responsibility and accountability mechanisms to implement ESCAP’s policies and commitments. The Policy and its accompanying Gender Equality Implementation Plan have been fully aligned with the UN System-wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Complementing the Gender Equality Policy, ESCAP developed its Gender Parity Implementation Plan (2021-2023) to achieve equal representation of women and men in ESCAP.

ESCAP continues to regularly monitor and report on the implementation of its gender equality policy. Following the UN-SWAP requirements, ESCAP ranks its activities according to the Performance Indicators that are common to the UN system. In line with the UN-SWAP 2.0, the ESCAP Report for 2022 reflects key results contributing to the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The summary, analysis and key insights from this report are included in the ESCAP UN-SWAP 2.0 Report Card.

Moreover, ESCAP reports annually on the gender mainstreaming efforts made by its different divisions, sub-regional offices and regional institutions. Our latest Progress Report on Gender Mainstreaming thus highlights the institutionalized policies, mechanisms and plans that integrates gender mainstreaming into ESCAP’s organizational culture, structures, and processes. It also provides evidence of direct and indirect interventions promoting gender equality in its work. 

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Induction Modules on Gender Equality

Gender knowledge is key to promoting gender equality and the successful implementation of gender mainstreaming in Asia and the Pacific. At ESCAP, we are committed to mainstreaming gender in the work of all our divisions, subregional offices and regional institutions, as well as in our organisational culture. 

To this end, we offer induction modules on gender equality to provide national and local institutions as well as any person interested in gender equality a comprehensive understanding of the principles, concepts, commitments and challenges related to gender equality in Asia and the Pacific. The induction modules aim to create awareness, foster inclusive commitments to gender equality and provide practitioners and stakeholders with a deeper understanding of gender issues.

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    What are the Induction Modules on Gender Equality?

    The gender induction modules are 15-minute online courses that allow anyone to access insightful introductions and general knowledge of relevant topics related to gender equality and gender mainstreaming. They allow learners to access gender-related content at their pace and from anywhere at any time. Each gender induction module is interactive and includes a video or animation and audio to enhance the learning experience. 

    The aim of the gender induction modules is to make participants more aware of the relevance of gender in their work and to help them identify the appropriate tools to be used when mainstreaming gender.

    Our gender induction modules provide participants with the relevant knowledge, skills and values that allow them to contribute to the effective implementation of the gender-mainstreaming strategy in their field, organisation, institution or country. In order to effectively mainstream gender in Asia and the Pacific, adequate theoretical knowledge about gender is key to identifying gender inequalities and gender gaps in any field of study or policy implementation.

    The Asia-Pacific Gender Induction Modules serve to:

    • Understand concepts and key conventions related to gender equality in Asia and the Pacific
    • Explain the importance of fostering SDG 5 to promote inclusive and equitable sustainable development
    • Create awareness of gender stereotypes and biased associated with gender roles
    • Enhance gender knowledge to advance gender mainstreaming in policy strategies and plans at a national level
    • Encourage the evaluation of national programmes from a gender perspective

     

    ESCAP's work on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment

    Key Conventions and International Commitments

    ESCAP's induction module on key conventions and international commitments offers an overview of the most relevant international treaties relevant to advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

     

    Gender-Inclusive Language for Gender Equality

    This module addresses the challenge of gender discriminatory language and offers valuable insights into combating unconscious bias through gender-inclusive language. It provides comprehensive guidance on incorporating gender-inclusive language and emphasizes the importance of using correct pronouns. Participants will gain practical knowledge and skills to promote communication that is respectful, inclusive, and gender sensitive.

     

    The Care Economy

     

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    "How to Invest in Care Economy: A Primer" is designed to support policymakers and government officials in their efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and empowerment of women in their countries. It lays out the basic concepts relating to what is called the “care economy” —the sum total of all paid and unpaid care work. It highlights the implications of a lopsided and gendered division of labour in unpaid care and domestic work. This strengthens the case for governments to invest in the care economy by addressing four care policy categories — care infrastructure, care-related social protection, care services and employment-related care. The primer includes the normative principles and levers of change that will help policymakers and practitioners to create a policy ecosystem that values care work and promotes women’s empowerment.

    Female Labour Force Participation

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    Female labour force participation and the care economy in Asia and the Pacific examines the low rate of female labour force participation in Asia and the Pacific and its correlation with persistent inequalities in the distribution of care responsibilities between men and women as well as the society and the State. The research presented here highlights the critical role of unpaid care work in the promotion of female participation in the labour market. It focuses on a care economy lens to shed light on the benefits that increasing female labour force participation represents for sustainable economic growth in Asia and the Pacific. It concludes with a call for action to invest in the care economy to build a more equal society in which care responsibilities are equally shared in households and care-related policies, services, infrastructure, and employment policies are promoted to positively affect economic growth and GDP in the region.

    Three key findings emerge from this policy brief. First, an overview of females’ labour force participation rates shows the relation between low women’s labour participation and gender bias and segmentation in the formal and informal sectors in the region. Second, a care economy lens is crucial for the analysis of gender gaps in labour force participation in the region. Women’s time allocation in unpaid care work is a key source of inequality between women’s and men’s participation in the labour market. And so is the motherhood penalty that women encounter in the labour market and the lack of care-related policies which emphasise cultural and social expectations of women as family caregivers. Third, the centrality of the care economy to enhance female labour force participation is not only significant to redress gender inequalities but also to promote economic growth. Investing in the care economy is a transformative measure to increase female labour force participation while boosting economic growth and GDP. In doing so, the priorities for action should enhance policy measures based on four care-sensitive policy categories: care infrastructure, care-related social protection, care services and employment-related care policies to expand family-friendly arrangements, avoid motherhood penalties, and engage more women in quality jobs in the labour market. 

    Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

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    ESCAP undertook a study project aimed to assess both opportunities and challenges of women workforce, including the transport and logistics sector; analyze initiatives and national policies; drawing good practices and national experiences to mainstream gender issues and promote gender inclusiveness in employment. The study findings are published as a Working Paper, titled "Mind the Gender Gap in workforce, including transport and logistics: the perspective from Sri Lanka and beyond."

    Time Use Surveys

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    The publication: Harnessing Time-use Data for Evidence-based Policy provides a reference on the application of time-use data in providing insights for the formulation and monitoring of public policies as well as monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals. It provides detailed guidance on accessing, processing and analysing time-use data from selected national surveys to examine socio-economic dynamics in a range of areas while exploring public policy priorities and ways forward. The publication is designed for reference and use by national statistical offices and other relevant national agencies contributing to policy research, analysis and formulation as well as Sustainable Development Goals implementation and monitoring. It could also serve as a resource for researchers, academia and civil society organizations with an interest in relevant policy analysis.