Actions for Gender Equality in municipal partnerships

The ICLD partnership programme enables your municipality to enter into a partnership with an international partner who is working towards the same objective. If the Agenda 2030 global sustainability goals are to become a reality, every element of society must be included in the work – not least, the local level. And we can now share yet another example of how international democracy collaborations can prove fruitful for both parties.

Robertsfors municipality and Machakos County for gender equality

The Swedish municipality of Robertsfors in Västerbotten has a long-standing partnership with Machakos County in Kenya, and the two have recently launched a joint new project within the framework of the partnership. Together, they have begun working to increase gender equality in line with Agenda 2030’s sustainable development goal #5.

The project’s long-term goal is to develop Robertsfors’ and Machakos’ governance processes in order to achieve agreed gender equality goals and thereby make concrete progress towards more equitable societies. The teams involved will also be working to develop new structures and methodologies for their ongoing gender equality work, based on local preconditions.

The central principles of rights-based work – inclusiveness, participation, transparency, and increased accountability potential – are integrated into the work.

The bases for societal governance that promotes gender equality have been established in both Robertsfors municipality and Machakos County during the first year of the project. Robertsfors is currently developing a new plan for the municipality, which is based on Agenda 2030 and which includes gender equality. A decision on the plan will be taken by the municipal assembly in June 2019. The plan includes gender equality objectives and decisions on how the municipality will achieve these goals. The gender equality policy in Machakos County, which is focusing on gender-based violence, has been presented to the regional parliament and a decision is expected shortly. The policy work has also been supported by other internally targeted measures within the organisation.  

A coordinator talks about the gender equality work

The work is still in the initial phase, so is currently only taking place at a more overall, policy level. The problem has, however, been clearly formulated: it’s about drawing up concrete action plans that will enable both Robertsfors and Machakos to achieve the Agenda 2030 gender equality goals. Zorica Grubor, who is Robertsfors municipality’s coordinator for the Actions for Gender Equality project, talks about the work.

“We’ve tried to identify tools and methods for working with issues that seem to be universal. We don’t want to just draw up checklists: we want to think on a somewhat broader scale. And we want to generate clear, practical action plans.”

What is Robertsfors currently doing to ensure an equitable distribution of power, influence and resources for both men and women?  

“The focus on gender equality issues has never been as strong as it is right now. Robertsfors municipality will, for the first time ever, include clear gender equality goals in its steering document, which will enable progression in the right direction when it comes to the equitable distribution of power, influence and resources. There’s also a direct link to Agenda 2030, and we’re part of SKL, the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Region’s network of model municipalities and are helping, in cooperation with Sweden’s other municipalities, to integrate gender equality into our operations and decision-making processes. Plus our Deputy Mayor and our Municipal Chief Executive see these as extremely important issues, which has given the work a huge boost.”

In what aspect of the municipal operations do you see Actions for Gender Equality having the biggest impact?

“That’s a little hard to say – we’re working at an overall level with gender equality issues and want to have an impact on all of our operations. One of our project goals is the establishment of a Gender Equality Advisory Council that will ensure not only that the work is carried out and followed up on, but that it is maintained over time. My hope is that our managers and politicians will understand the benefits of gender equality integration and that it will genuinely be possible to apply it across the board.”

More information about Municipal Partnerships, ICLD