To what extent is gender a strong thread running through donor thinking on fragile states? What opportunities exist to enhance the systematic integration of gender equality in donors’ thinking on state fragility? This paper from the North-South Institute looks at how gender issues are integrated into the emerging policy on state fragility of six donor agencies/bodies. It argues that donors are only beginning to bring their learning about gender equality into their emerging work on fragile states.
While donors have developed impressive tools to promote gender equality in other domains, donor strategies on state fragility fail to systematically incorporate gender equality considerations. Where strategies do address gender, they focus on narrow priorities of gender equity in service delivery and education, rather than linking it to broader agendas. This is not a minor oversight. Overlooking fragility’s different effects on men and women and missing opportunities for engaging women as agents of change may undermine strategies to address state fragility.
Analysis of the emerging fragile states policies of six donor agencies/bodies finds that:
- AusAID’s developing policy framework on fragile states does not systematically address gender concerns. A call for consistent gender mainstreaming in a 2002 report is not reflected elsewhere in the policy framework.
- DFID’s strategy for engaging in fragile states is largely silent on gender considerations. It does not consider how to ensure gender equity in provision of basic services or how to address gender-based violence.
- Gender analysis has been conspicuously weak in most OECD DAC documents on fragile states. The mandate and work plan for the DAC’s Learning and Advisory Process on fragile states do not include gender as an analytical category.
- The 2004 Report of UNDG/ECHA Working Group on Transitional Issues pays some attention to gender. However, the 2005 UNDG Operational Note which builds on the report does not take up this thread.
- USAID’s Failed States Strategy notes the importance of differentiating the impacts of fragility on men and women and the correlation between fragility and gender inequality. However, it makes no other explicit references to gender.
- The 2002 Report of the World Bank Task Force on Low-Income Countries under stress did not incorporate gender dimensions into its analysis or recommendations. It did not make a single reference to gender equality.
There are several opportunities for donors to bring a generation of experience on gender and development into emerging policies on development in fragile states. Donors could:
- Involve key stakeholders – including women and women’s organisations – more meaningfully in policy and programme development in fragile states
- Review their analytical frameworks in related fields such as peacebuilding and human rights to enhance their ability to understand the gender dimensions of state failure
- Review their gender equality programming tools in other domains to see how these could be used in fragile states
- Draw explicitly on gender equality theory and practice from other areas, while ensuring that gender equality policy in fragile states is linked to broader priorities
- use gender analysis to help unpack and give proper attention to assumptions relating to development priorities in fragile states
- In the case of the OECD DAC, offer a platform for sharing work in progress on gender-sensitive fragile states policy and practice.
Contact: Jennifer Salahub, jsalahub[at]nsi-ins.ca