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Gender equality is a basic human right and an essential component of sustainable development. Positive roles of gender equality in sustainable development and poverty reduction are recognized by the international development community. Gender equality is not only one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 5), but also relevant to other goals as a cross-cutting issue.
As a signatory to the International Convention on Human Rights in 1993 and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995, the Government of the Republic of Korea recognizes gender equality as part of universal human rights. The country’s Framework Act on International Development Cooperation (enacted in 2010) stipulates the enhancement of women’s rights and achievement of gender equality as one of its basic principles.
The Committee for International Development Cooperation (“CIDC” hereafter) under the Prime Minister’s Office in Korea is the highest level of policy formulation and coordination body of the country’s international development cooperation work. In 2015, the Committee developed the “Guideline for the Application of Gender Sensitive Perspectives to ODA Projects.” It is the first government-wide guideline for applying gender sensitivity to all ODA projects funded by the Korean government which provides a checklist at each stage of project implementation from planning to ex-post evaluation.
The Economic Development Cooperation Fund (“EDCF” hereafter) developed the EDCF Gender Mainstreaming Strategy reflecting the Guideline’s approaches and principles in the spirit of the Framework Act on International Development Cooperation. The Strategy is also based on the internationally agreed gender-related standards and principles in the context of development cooperation.
“Gender” refers to culturally based expectations of the roles and behavior of males and females. Gender is a social construct different from the biological aspect of sexes. As such, gender expectations and gender roles can change over time. Gender policies are not identical to policies for women; while women are often disadvantaged in benefitting from development in many societies and countries, men can also be disadvantaged in some cases. Thus EDCF Gender Strategy caters for both men and women in various contexts.
Gender Equality & Gender Equity
As stipulated in international agreements and the Constitution of the Republic of Korea, “gender equality” refers to equal rights, power, responsibilities and opportunities for women and men, as well as equal consideration of the interests, needs and priorities of women and men. “Gender equity” refers to the process of being fair to both women and men. Ensuring gender equality often requires adopting measures to close the existing disparity caused by historical and societal reasons in a particular society. Addressing this is an equity issue. Gender equity, therefore, leads to gender equality.
Gender Sensitive Perspectives (GSP)
“Gender sensitive perspectives” refer to the insights and perceptional ability to identify societal norms and power relations resulting in differentiated gender roles and discriminating social, economic, and political status between men and women in a society. They aim to effectively dismantle or reform existing policies and other established mechanisms that sustain gender inequality.
Gender mainstreaming is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned actions, including legislation, policies and programs, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programs in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. In effect, gender mainstreaming means that all the steps and processes over the cycle of all EDCF projects and programs are screened in view of improving gender equality. For this purpose, gender mainstreaming needs to be an integral part of the main project management process.
The goal of the EDCF Gender Mainstreaming Strategy is to ensure the differentiated needs and circumstances of different genders are systematically considered and addressed to ensure the equitable distribution of the opportunities and benefits of development to men and women. In this way, EDCF’s international development cooperation activities will contribute to the sustainable development of its partner countries (achieving SDGs effectively), while ensuring that basic human rights and women’s empowerment are upheld and promoted in the process of cooperation. At the same time, EDCF aims to raise gender awareness and gender mainstreaming capacity of the staff and other development partners.
Gender as a human right
EDCF complies with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (1948), the first international proclamation on equal rights and treatment between men and women and prohibition of discrimination based on gender, among others (Article 2). The Fund also respects the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (1979) and the 1995 endorsement of the Fourth World Conference on Women (WCW) and resulting Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Thus, EDCF recognizes and promotes gender equality as an essential and integral human right, which is inalienable, indivisible and applies to all. Moreover, the Fund adopts gender mainstreaming as a viable approach to enhancing women’s empowerment and gender equality in international development cooperation.
Gender as a base for sustainable
Gender equality is an essential component of sustainable development. Gender equality in the post-2015 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been constantly emphasized to be accomplished under “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” In this framework, EDCF adopts gender mainstreaming as a viable strategy to further promote sustainable development in partner countries.
Gender as a cross-cutting issue
Defining gender as a cross-cutting issue is one of the gender mainstreaming strategies. Approaching gender as a cross-cutting issue is in line with international practices adopted by various UN agencies and other development entities. By adopting gender as a cross-cutting issue, EDCF will ensure all of the Fund’s projects and programs integrate gender perspectives in every project stage from planning to ex-post evaluation.
EDCF takes note that the issue of gender equality and scope of gender activities will evolve over time. The Gender Mainstreaming Strategy is the first initiative for EDCF’s adoption of gender policy in its program/program operations. Over time, the Fund’s gender practices shall be reviewed and evaluated. In case the need for revision arises, EDCF will revisit this Strategy for modification.
In an effort to guide its staff to take the gender-perspective approach in an easy and definite way, EDCF provides an institutional strategy which includes establishing operational guidelines for applying gender-sensitive perspectives. In addition, the Fund has established Gender Focal Points within KEXIM which serves as an ODA implementing agency that manages EDCF-funded projects. EDCF will mainstream gender issues into all of its projects by developing its own internal system that is practically applicable to all of its projects.
The effective implementation of the Strategy rests on the capacity and willingness of personnel in charge of EDCF projects. In this context, capacity building within the agency is important as the effort will enhance the understanding of gender issues and share gender equality goals across the agency. EDCF will train its staff and build partnership with other relevant agencies in a consistent manner. Forming partnership will improve harmonization and synergy among development cooperation agencies in pursuit of gender mainstreaming.
EDCF is driving efforts to increase the number of projects which apply gender-sensitive approaches and, in turn, the number of projects which are marked as the OECD DAC Equality Marker 1 or 2. EDCF notes that institutionalization and capacity building are crucial to achieving this strategy.
Designating gender priority sectors to apply gender-sensitive perspectives
Reflecting EDCF’s focus areas, education, health and water management are designated as gender priority sectors where gender-sensitive perspectives will be applied. EDCF identifies gender-responsive perspectives on the priority sectors prior to expanding such perspectives toward every sector in which EDCF is engaged.
Gender Focal Points as a pivotal entity within KEXIM
Gender Focal Points are established within KEXIM and are set to manage KEXIM-wide implementation of the Gender Mainstreaming Strategy. The group consists of senior officers of each team at EDCF operational, supporting and planning departments. The Senior Officer of the Program and Strategy Team in EDCF Planning Department works closely with evaluation specialists and safeguard officers, and takes responsibility of managing the Gender Focal Points which lead gender mainstreaming and capacity building activities.
Gender mainstreaming at every stage of EDCF projects
Gender-sensitive perspectives are applied at every stage of an EDCF project. The action plans for gender mainstreaming at each stage are as follows :
At ex-post evaluation stage, whether the objective and indicator of gender equality are implemented or not is evaluated. The lessons learned and recommendations drawn from the evaluation are used to improve EDCF’s implementation plans on gender issues.
Establishing guidelines on applying gender-sensitive perspectives
EDCF will mainstream gender into all of its projects by developing its own Gender Guidelines which are practically applicable to all of its projects. The Guidelines will set forth, among others, efforts to systematically analyze and address the specific needs of both women and men in the projects. While the general principles of the OECD DAC and the CIDC will be applied, the Fund will reflect the unique characteristics of its projects (i.e. concessional loan projects focusing on relatively large-scale infrastructure development) and adopt differentiated approaches at a day-to-day operational level. The Guidelines shall be integrated into all major stages of EDCF projects ranging from : project development and feasibility study to appraisal, monitoring and evaluation.T34
Internal knowledge management
EDCF ensures that internal knowledge management and capacity building for gender mainstreaming are conducted to promote gender-sensitive perspectives in EDCF projects. While a Gender Focal Point remains a key player for internal knowledge management, EDCF will continue to train its staff through Gender Mainstreaming Training Sessions which have been conducted since 2015 on a regular basis.²
Partnership with other institutions
EDCF seeks to collaborate with other ODA agencies, NGOs and research institutes to expand mutual cooperation to tackle gender mainstreaming issues. The Fund plans to strengthen partnership with KWDI, KOICA, the Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (MOGEF) and other relevant organizations to further reinforce capacity building activities on gender mainstreaming. Furthermore, EDCF will strengthen its participation in the OECD GENDERNET to share experience and knowledge on gender mainstreaming and learn from its peers in the OECD DAC community. EDCF hopes that building partnership will improve harmonization and synergy among development cooperation agencies in pursuit of gender equality.
¹ Minimum criteria should be met in full : Gender analysis of the project has been conducted; Findings from this gender analysis have informed the design of the project; The top-level ambition of the project is to advance gender equality and/or women’s empowerment; The results framework measures progress towards the project’s gender equality objectives through gender-specific indicators to track outcomes/impact; Data and indicators are disaggregated by sex where applicable; Commitment to monitor and report on the gender equality results is achieved by the project in the evaluation phase.
² Since 2015, KEXIM has held several gender training sessions, inviting gender specialists from Korea Women’s Development Institute and KOICA. Moreover, evaluation specialists and senior officers from planning department have trained staff on gender mainstreaming strategy and action plans.