Gender mainstreaming at local level

We cannot talk about achieving sustainable development without gender equality! -There is undeniable proof that gender equality and the role of women in development are central and are an accelerator for the implementation of all sustainable development goals. Women’s full and equitable participation in public life is essential to build a sustained, strong and vibrant democracy’ says Johan Lilja, Secretary General ICLD.

The ICLD gender mainstreaming training programme supports participants through training, knowledge and experience sharing, and capacity building in gender mainstreaming methods with the expectation that change processes are institutionalised at local level. We interviewed one of the participating teams in the programme, from Amuru district in Uganda. The team members; Milly Laker, Richard Otika and Samson Oyo, local politician; Denis Rom, and programme mentor; Joseph Ossiya shared insights on the gender mainstreaming journey in Amuru. Their change process focuses on enhancing gender mainstreaming in all programmes through gender sensitive and responsive planning and budgeting.

Amuru team members: Samson Oyo, Milly Laker, Richard Otika, together with other participants during the inception workshop.

What inspired you to undertake your change process?
We were inspired by Amuru district long history of 15 years without deliberate gender equity and responsive planning and budgeting. As well as the negative perception and attitudes, limited knowledge and understanding of the duty bearers, and the limited integration of gender sensitive and responsive planning and budgeting into the district programs and plans, says Samson Oyo, Milly Laker and Richard Otika.

What are your experiences working with the change process within the new normal brought about by COVID 19?

The prevalence of COVID 19 has hampered mobilization of local revenue that should have facilitated much of the change process activities. The budget cuts by central Government due to COVID 19 response pressure has affected departments and sectors to meaningfully mainstream gender. COVID 19 has also affected stakeholder’s engagement due to the strict adherence of regulations set by Government. Additionally, monitoring of programs to ensure gender equity and compliance has been affected by COVID 19.

Denis Rom, politican and speaker of Amuru district Local Council

From a politician perspective, why is gender mainstreaming significant?
Gender mainstreaming is important because it promotes equitable representation and participation in political activities and ensures participation of both men and women in decision making at various levels. It facilitates equitable resource allocation and utilization, and it empowers both women and men through equitable ownership of power and resources which promotes peace and tranquility, says Denis Rom, local politician and speaker of Amuru district local Council.

What role can politicians play in gender mainstreaming?
Politicians can play a crucial role in formulating gender sensitive and responsive policies. As politicians, we can facilitate the allocation of resources for gender mainstreaming. We can also mobilize and sensitize communities for a shift in mindset towards gender equality, as well as lobby and advocate for gender mainstreaming at all levels. Another crucial element is to monitor and evaluate gender programs with specific focus on gender equity compliance.

Joseph Ossiya, Programme Mentor, Uganda

What are your reflections on the teams change process and the work they are doing?
I have been greatly impressed by team Amuru’s spirit, resilience and commitment to the change process amidst a very challenging environment. The team has stuck to the task of ensuring that the district local government mainstreams progressive gender positions through gender responsive planning and budgeting. This involves setting a new policy and practice agenda for the district. Some of the change process initiatives and time were lost as team members and district councillors contracted and recovered from COVID 19. To their credit, they are working even harder to compensate for these lapses and keep the change process on track.

The team has largely secured political buy-in from the councillors and social goodwill from the district leadership. Even where there have been resource constraints, the team has negotiated for synergies from gender champions – both individuals and organisations – to see trainings and sensitisation initiatives go ahead. I feel confident that at the completion of the change process timeline, Amuru district is going to be a model district with respect to its gender policies and practices. I am honoured to be a part of this history in the making, Joseph Ossiya, Programme Mentor.

Read more about the Gender mainstreaming programme