Gender mainstreaming entails assessing the effects to both men and women of any planed undertaking be it legislative, a program or policies covering all levels and areas of development. It is aimed at ensuring that both men and women are involved in designing, implementing, evaluating and monitoring all policies and programs related to political, social or economic fields thus ensuring that they all benefit equally. It involves bringing the contributions, ideas and rights of both genders to the center of focus in order to come up with the design, realization, strategies and results of policies and programs. It is a vital consideration not only in achieving gender equality but also in promoting development on the side of economy. Most of the microeconomic policies fail to meet their goals due to undermining factors pertaining gender. Efforts aimed at introducing gender consideration in most of current institutions have little effect on their own. This underlines the need of mainstreaming gender perspectives in order to achieve gender equality and improve the significance and efficiency of development agendas as a whole for the good of both women and men (International Labour Organization, 2009, par.1-4).
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Brief history on gender mainstreaming
The idea of mainstreaming emerged in early 1980s when international women’s movement felt that most of the programs that involved women were neglected thus yielding poor results. The little resources that were being set aside for projects spearheaded by women, resulted in small, inferior ventures leading to women being ignored when it came to development issues. After women discovered this, they started looking for alternative measures to ensure that their views were not sidelined any more but they were also integrated in decision-making. At this time, the term mainstreaming had varied meaning among different people. Some perceived it to mean integrating women in coming up with development plans and their realization while others took it to mean ensuring that institutions allocated resources for women programmes. This resulted in surfacing of debates about the significance of the activities that targeted women and the need of involving them in other programs (United Nations Fund for Women, 2005, par. 1-5).
As the recession widens and become severe in the world economy, all genders will suffer the labour force penalties and gender biasness is likely to be accelerated by this catastrophe. In this period, women are most likely going to be affected negatively than men. Most of the Europeans are focusing on ensuring that they have secured their jobs without regard to issues such as impartiality in pay among the gender, elastic working hours to harmonize work and family life and protection of parenthood rights. With most of the industries closing down, women are the most adversely affected. This calls for gender mainstreaming to enhance social sustainability and development. There is need to ensure that both men and women meet their aspirations in participating in working force in order to safeguard the economy of any country.
To ensure that there is gender mainstreaming, the government and other non-governmental organizations use several measures such as safeguarding employment and providing education and training to workers in the supply chains where most of women are employed under insecure terms without any security hence vulnerable to being fired. They also stop reduction in public spending which threatens most of public institutions which have the majority of the employees as women and encourage stakeholders to reinforce and expand social protection through ensuring equitable pensions, unemployment benefits and quality health care to all regardless of gender (ETUC, 2009, par. 1-7).
With this in mind, let we bring to your attention the need for gender mainstreaming in our company. All the participants in this company are requested to give greater attention to gender perspectives when it comes to work programmes and to support the effort of the company executives in seeing that these objectives have been attained. Experience from other companies have proved that allowing sharing of ideas, experiences and emphasizing on gender mainstreaming is a viable means of ensuring commitment, awareness and developing capacity among the employees. There is need for the company to organize for a series of workshops on gender mainstreaming to educate our employees on its importance and how to implement it. Based on the findings from the workshops held on the Asian and Pacific region which brought together eighty representatives fro the government, civil societies and organizations and United Nation bodies for constructive dialogue on gender mainstreaming, workshops proves to be productive in ensuring the success of the company’s endeavor. The workshop consisted of six important sessions that covered the forty-sixth session of the commission on the position of women in eradicating poverty through empowering them. The great focus on the advancement of women and gender equality throughout the United Nation over the past decades brings about an increased recognition that there are significant gender perspectives with relation to development. Among them includes, human rights, good governance, suppressing poverty, ensuring sustainable development and promoting peace and security. The company needs to deliberate on the prospective results of planed projects on women and men before making decisions pertaining resource allocation, targets and the steps to be followed.
As we are aware, bringing gender perspectives to the center of deliberation will not only lead to gender equality but will also facilitate in achieving other development goals of our company. It has been noted that women makes major contribution in management issues in areas such as agriculture and water resources supervision in most of the countries. Therefore, neglecting women in decision making and implementation within our company will lead to retarded growth of key sectors within our company in which we will be doing harm to our company and to ourselves. We have to put into consideration the needs of all genders within our company if we wish to accomplish our development goals. In sectors such as macroeconomics and trade, where gender views were initially considered immaterial, people have started realizing the importance of assessing the contributions of women and men in making these sectors productive. There is a concrete increase in evidence that gender disparities and inequalities directly and indirectly play a major role in achievement of overall organizational development goals (Tiessen, 2005, pp.1-8).
However, we should be careful not to use gender mainstreaming as the only tool for achieving development goals within our company while assuming gender equality. Gender mainstreaming should be perceived as a means of promoting gender equality that, subsequently, will promote in the achievement of our company’s development goals. Gender mainstreaming does not concern including women in growth agendas that have already been drafted by others. It demands for alteration of the objectives and plans of operations to ensure that both men and women partake, control and gain from development programs. It also calls for changes in the company configurations and customs to nurture a gender equitable environment. Gender mainstreaming does not pertain increasing the number of women in our company, but ensuring that both women and men are accorded equal opportunities in making decisions concerning the running of our company.
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There has been a misconception within our employees on gender mainstreaming. This prompts us to make some clarifications here and now. Gender mainstreaming is not about gender balance within our company, though this is an important feature in promoting gender equality. It focuses on the activities of our company that is the goals, strategies, resource distribution, organization and execution processes. In addition, specific activities assigned to women within our company do not imply that there is gender mainstreaming but a basic accompaniment of it. Gender mainstreaming will therefore be employed in programmes where the main objectives will be allied to development goals and enhancing gender equality (Hannah, 2003, pp.12-14).
Result of gender mainstreaming
Gender mainstreaming will lead to all our staff members developing the attitude of participating in policy making of our company. This is because it will require the policy makers to make decisions by evaluating every single policy according to its impact on individual staffs in the company and the overall company. This will create new methods to replace the traditional ways of making decision where we used theoretical economic and ideological indices. The policy makers will also learn on how to pay attention to the wide impacts of policies on the employee’s life within the company. We will also be able to introduce other very important features to the employees’ lives here in the company, features that have been ignored by the management in the past.
The mode of management in our company will also be enhanced through better informed policy making process. This is because it will confront the general belief that policies have no connection to the gender, unraveling the concealed assumptions on veracity and ideals. As gender mainstreaming involves both men and women, it makes full use of human resources. Since currently most of the women are the ones fighting for gender equality in our company, implementing gender mainstreaming will see an increase in the number of people fighting for this both men and women. This will lead to our employees understanding that for the sake of progress within our company, there is need for them to seek the experience of both men and women. Gender mainstreaming will also lead to appreciation of the diversity between women and men within our company thus improving its growth. To achieve this, policy makers should come up with policies taking in to consideration the varied diversities between men and women. To highlight, other benefits accompanied with gender mainstreaming that our company is likely to experience includes:
- The company will be able to foster equal opportunities in matters to do with resources distribution and ensuring that the interests, views and ambitions of all employees are taken into account.
- We will be able to support policies that spearhead the establishment of equal opportunities at all levels within our company.
- We will be able to instill awareness, skills and approach on liberation and gender equality as well as developing skills on gender mainstreaming and gender equality among our staffs (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, foreign Information and Communication, the Netherlands, 2002, pp. 2-5).
Implementing gender mainstreaming
Although gender mainstreaming has been established as a world strategy for ensuring gender equality, we have a lot to do in our company before gender perspectives are regularly considered in all areas of development. Its implementation proves difficult than we originally thought. This is because it will require us to make great changes in the way we have been running our company. There is need for the company to ensure that all its issues and problems with respect to operations are defined in a manner that will help in identifying gender differences and disparities. We should never make assumptions that issues and or problems are free from gender views. We should make analysis on gender issues and our recommendations on operations and policies made based on the analysis keeping in account gender disparities. Once all gender perspectives have been identified in varied areas of development, we should come up with a strategy to address these problems. We should ensure that we successfully include gender perspectives into our work-tasks in a way that helps in attaining the ultimate goals, resource distribution and overall outcomes.
To support gender mainstreaming, there is also need for company to advance in terms of identifying roles and responsibilities, developing guidelines, consulting gender experts and improving the competence of all personnel. To achieve this, we intend to distribute various responsibilities to different arms of administration within our company. The duty of ensuring that mainstreaming is achieved will be bestowed to the directors with the management team bearing the responsibility of coming up with methods to monitor the advancement of mainstreaming. This will be through devising the indicators to be used over time in determining the progress being made by our company. The policies should explicitly elaborate the goals of our company, procedures to be used to conceptualize these goals and the expected outcomes. There should also be a common agreement among the staffs on what our company will be aiming to achieve with respect to gender equality matters. The staffs need to have a clear understanding on what is expected from their respective areas of operations (Hannah, 2003, pp. 15-7).
This asks for a political will among the management in promoting gender mainstreaming. The company should define gender equality as one of its major aims. Gender mainstreaming has been made a political issue through the help of non-governmental organizations. The management is required to issue a clear statement of its undertaking in ensuring that all policies are developed based on gender equality. It should also come up with clear criteria to be used in achieving gender mainstreaming to help the policy makers come up with effective policies. The management ought to be willing to question present gender affairs and the framework, regulations and processes encouraging inequality and to respond to them accordingly. The policy makers need to have a comprehensive knowledge of gender issues before they embark on making policies. This will require them to conduct thorough research on gender matters by analyzing the current gender disparities in all fields within our company as well as predicting on how future undertakings will affect women and men.
Financial support is an unconditional requirement in implementing gender mainstreaming as it is to other policies. Mainstreaming means reallotment of existing funds. Even if the company exhibit the political will and have all-inclusive gender equality policies and competent knowledge on gender at its disposal, this will not facilitate in it adapting the presented policies or provide the necessary gender education to policy makers, as all these require money.
We would also urge our women to be participating in political and public life as well as in decision making processes within our society. It is true that it will be hard to get political will for gender mainstreaming if women will not participate in its decision making. By women getting involved in public life and decision-making process, they will gain ideas regarding gender equality and this will help in ensuring that when we come to decision making in our company, the different interests, principles and life understanding of women are not left out. There is concrete evidence from experience that most of the companies where women participate in great numbers in decision making processes, changes are more effective and are effected at a faster rate (Gender mainstreaming, 2006, pp. 15-17).
Having said these, it is vital to present to you some of imperative conditions that the company has to meet for the success of this assignment:
- The company has to come up with clear definition of all policies regarding equal opportunities and development especially those that concerns women.
- The directors and departmental heads should sacrifice their time to address issues to do with equality and equal privileges within the company, as the ultimate goal is to promote justice and integrity within our company.
- The project will not be a success if all the stakeholders of our company are not willing to actively participate. Every one in the company must know the role he or she is entitled to play in his or her respective area.
- The company needs to consult gender experts in some areas as currently it does not have such experts in order to ensure that all gender based problems are fully addressed in our policies.
- The project will not yield if the company is not willing to fully support it financially. It is therefore the duty of finance manager to ensure that the company avails enough money to facilitate this mission.
- The company also intend to come up with a committee that will be assessing the progress of this venture stage by stage and alerting us where we appear to go out of the guidelines (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, foreign Information and Communication, the Netherlands, 2002, pp. 1-2).
Challenges we are likely to meet
As the company embarks on implementing this crucial endeavor, there are different challenges that it should be ready to face. There is great misunderstanding among the staffs on the concept of gender mainstreaming and this might lead to conflicts between them. Some of the staffs might take it as a new undertaking aimed at replacing specific gender equality policies and hence use it as reason for not going on with the implementation of other policies aimed at ensuring gender equality within the company. This requires the company to clearly distinguish the difference between gender mainstreaming and gender equality to the staffs to avoid cases of conflicts happening as well as ensuring that they are not exploited by the management staffs. Another problem the company is likely to meet concerns its current approach to policy-making. There is a significant difference between mainstreaming and various equality policies with respect to those who implement the policies. As gender mainstreaming involves integrating new approaches such as gender equality approach to what was perceived to be thematic approach, it calls for a strong cooperation between policy making departments. It will involve restructuring various policy-making guidelines as well as cooperating with other external organizations such as non-governmental organizations in coming up with policies that address are areas of concern. It will also require us to make changes in our approaches on matters pertaining to our company’s culture and to look for new sources of consultation and cooperation (Wells and McEwan, 2009, pp. 2-7)
There might be a danger of the company talking about gender mainstreaming without taking the initiative to implement it. The executive team might decide that equality will be incorporated in all policies without taking steps to ensure that it has been done as per their proposal. This requires the will and stiff commitment from all our policy makers to redress not only the present disparity in gender but also to deal with the causes of these disparities. This asks for the determination to avail the required financial and human resources. Without enough resources both financial and manpower, we will not be able to achieve our goals (Gender mainstreaming, 2006, pp. 13-4).
With all the above challenges, the company needs to look for means to triumph them. As gender mainstreaming seem to focus more on empowering women, men folk might feel to be threatened and hence be reluctant in implementing proposed policies. The company needs to educate all the employees on the importance of gender mainstreaming. They have to realize that we are aiming at improving our company and the status of the employees but not discriminating people along gender lines. Money also needs to be set aside in advance to ensure that we do not delay our scheme due to financial constraints. If we keep to these recommendations, our venture will be successful and we will be able to work in harmony throughout the company.
European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). (2009). ETUC calls for gender mainstreaming in handling the economic crisis. Web.
Gender Mainstreaming. (2006). Conceptual framework, methodology and presentation of good practices. 2009. Web.
Hannan, C. (2003). Putting gender mainstreaming into practice. 2009. Web.
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International Labour Organization. (2009). Definition of Gender Mainstreaming. Web.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, foreign Information and Communication, the Netherlands. (2002). Institutional and Organizational Change: Gender Mainstreaming. 2009. Web.
Tiessen, R. (2005). Mainstreaming Gender in HIV/AIDS Programs: Ongoing Challenges and New Opportunities in Malawi. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 7(1),1-8.
Wells, J. and McEwan, T. (2009). Gender mainstreaming: Moving from principles to implementation — The difficulties. Web.