‘Promoting Gender Equality In Politics’ - Review Of Inter-Parliamentary Union’s Gender Programme

‘Promoting Gender Equality In Politics’ - Review Of Inter-Parliamentary Union’s Gender Programme

‘Promoting Gender Equality In Politics’ - Review Of Inter-Parliamentary Union’s Gender Programme

Earlier this year a field review of the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s Gender Programmes was carried out under the auspices of Stockholm-based InDevelop-IPM. The review was commissioned by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) together with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Irish Aid.  Independent Gender specialist Lesley Abdela was appointed Team Leader. She conducted field trips to Amman, Bamako, IPU HQ Geneva, and Sida HQ, Stockholm. Co-author Ann Boman made visits to Sida HQ in Stockholm and the IPU HQ in Geneva. The independent review team assessed the IPU Gender Programme for Relevance, Effectiveness, Sustainability and Administration & Management. The review was published late-2010.

33 Pages, plus extensive annexes.

Gender Review Team Leader Lesley Abdela

Co-author Ann Boman

This synopsis is circulated with the consent of the IPU and Sida. For complimentary electronic copies of the full report email:

Eyecatcher/Shevolution or InDevelop-IPM:


Women In Parliament: The Gender Review Team found the IPU to be much appreciated and trusted by Parliamentarians worldwide as an organisation with a shared wealth of knowledge and experience of the realities of the role of Parliamentarians. In much of the world, women entering Parliament face a kaleidoscope of challenges in a political environment often inhospitable and male-dominated. The obstacles preventing women from attaining equality inside and outside Parliament broadly break down into three categories: legislative obstacles, institutional obstacles, and obstacles caused by cultural stereotypes and attitudes. The IPU Gender Programme makes relevant interventions to address these three categories in relation to Parliaments and women in politics. Apart from the IPU, few resources and efforts worldwide are centred on a holistic approach: strengthening the capacity and skills of women once elected to Parliament, developing the capacity of Parliamentarians as a whole to include a Gender perspective in all aspects of their role, and helping legislatures to metamorphose into Gender-sensitive institutions

Strengthening the Institution of Parliament: In the plan of activities for ‘Strengthening the Institution of Parliament’ all 14 IPU target countries are coming out of deadly conflict or other major upheavals. The IPU could play a major role by systematic implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, and 1889. This would also contribute to the IPU’s aim of moving closer to the UN family  

Support services, policies, budgets and guidelines: Mainstreaming Gender effectively into all elements of an organisation’s plans and activities means a commitment to development work involving a strategic plan of implementation which may last several years. Management must take clear responsibility for planning and setting targets and indicators for Gender-mainstreaming the Organisation. Some recommendations on what is important for success are listed in the METS-tool http://www.sweden.gov.se/sb/d/8805/a/81982

A prerequisite for Gender-mainstreaming as a strategy is that all actors involved openly acknowledge Gender equality as a relevant objective and show their willingness to include Gender in all programmes.  Incentives can play a large role – as part of career appraisals, promotion, contract compliance and programme evaluations.  Sharing good examples of ToRs/project documents/evaluations/best-practice within the organisation could be of real value

It is worth keeping in mind fashions come and go. At present ‘Mainstreaming Gender’ has become very fashionable and if fully implemented to the point Gender-matters permeate to the core of all programmes, it has considerable merit.  Nevertheless, a word of warning is in order.  Mainstreaming Gender is too often interpreted (incorrectly) as the creation of a focal point where some not-very-senior staff member is made to add ‘Gender’ to his/her existing duties, usually with no extra salary or status.  Often Mainstreaming Gender is left to swing in the wind, accompanied by absolutely no monitoring or revisiting. The result is two or three years can pass before anyone discovers nothing at all has happened. By then it is also impossible to discover where the problem lies – the ‘mainstreaming’ has really been a dilution rather than a concentration of responsibility 


Gender Programme Review Team:
Team Leader Lesley Abdela FRSA: lesley.abdela@shevolution.com. Tel. +44 1435 882 655
Co-author Ann Boman:
ab@ann-boman.se  Tel. +46 707 66 21 66


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