“National machineries for the advancement of women have been established in almost every Member State to, inter alia, design, promote the implementation of, execute, monitor, evaluate, advocate and mobilize support for policies that promote the advancement of women. National machineries are diverse in form and uneven in their effectiveness, and in some cases have declined. Often marginalized in national government structures, these mechanisms are frequently hampered by unclear mandates, lack of adequate staff, training, data and sufficient resources, and insufficient support from national political leadership.” (para 196, p. 84, BPFA)
Lack of political will continues to inhibit the adoption of effective national machineries for the advancement of women and for the systematic mainstream of gender perspectives throughout government policies and programs.
The Beijing + 10 review noted that despite the many gains achieved in this area, and there were many in this review period, there remained an overall weakening of political will in gender mainstreaming in many countries of the region.
Most national machineries for the advancement of women were placed at the lower level of government and were often marginalised. Some reported further down-grading since the Beijing + 5 year review, and assigned responsibilities that are welfare oriented and focus on women’s stereotyped needs. As such, there have little or no capacity to pursue gender mainstreaming, owing to, among others, insufficient resources and weak mandates. Gender focal points in line ministries and local governments were noted as often lower ranking female officers whose mandates are weak or unclear. It was also noted that there was an absence of a non-discriminatory and gender sensitive legal environment due to existing reservations to CEDAW and ratifying its Optional Protocol.
Gender budgeting in several countries remained marginal allocations of traditional welfare-oriented women-only projects. Gender-responsive budgeting that ensures equal access and benefits by both women and men of all economic opportunities and other services provides by government was not understood by the majority of governments.
There was also a noted lack of real progress in gender statistics including the accounting of unpaid work.
It was noted that there was a glaring lack in political and technical skills, not just in gender budgeting but in the capacity for broader gender-sensitive analysis of macroeconomic policies, for gender mainstreaming in line ministries, other government bodies and actors in sustainable national development. In some countries a backlash caused by fundamentalists and neo-conservatives that captures secular states has resulted in the loss of gains made in women’s human rights and gender equality.
Policies and programs on women could not be assessed fully for want of indicators and monitoring tools. Gender statistics need to be further developed including evaluation of unpaid work of men and women and their contributions to the economy. The need for national statistical policy requiring the inclusion in the national income accounts of unpaid work in the informal and care economies was also noted. Of particular concern was that, even when gender responsive laws were passed, policies or programs fail to be implemented due to lack of budget allocation. This highlighted the need for gender responsive budget preparation, utilisation and monitoring.