From Opportunities to Capacities: A Multi-Sectoral Approach to Enhancing Gender Responsive Governance

Output1-Knowledge Materials

To develop a knowledge base on GRGs and Document Best Practices

NIRDPR-UN Women has identified four main types of knowledge building that would lead to policy and advocacy as well as create key knowledge products for learning and capacity building. The first is identification and documentation of existing literature (reports, manuals, journal articles, knowledge sources and institutions (academic/activist. Governmental/Non Governmental/INGOs) that address issues of gender and governance. This has led to the development of an E-Repository on GRG which is an online archive of existing knowledge materials, institutions, persons and statistics relevant to GRG in the Indian context. This online archive has been built and hosted at the NIRD website. The e-repository is a dynamic archive which will be updated periodically through people’s contributions. The Repository is a key online domain that can be used by any person to gain access to materials, references and data on GRG in India. This is a unique initiative of its kind in India.

The second initiative is to create a comprehensive handbook on Gender Friendly Panchayats (GFP). Coined by UN Women in 2017, the term Gender Friendly Panchayat aims to capture the overall vision of a Panchayat that reflects gender responsiveness of structure (institutions), process (functioning) and outcomes (performance) of PRI. The ultimate outcome is envisaged as a Panchayat where issues of gender equality and equity have been addressed and women and men experience well being in social, economic and political aspects of their lives. The GFP has been conceived as comprising: a Conceptual paper; Documentation of Best Practices/Case Studies; Handbook/Operational Manual for implementation by Panchayat functionaries.

The conceptual paper produced by UN Women & NIRDPR captures the theoretical contours of a GFP through a detailed analysis of gender and governance debates and practices around the world and in India.

The Case Studies have been documented through field level studies of various women led Panchayats (Panchayat Presidents were women) across 4 states of India: Kerala, Bihar, Uttarakhand and Assam. Spanning north, east and south, the states show immense diversity in political, economic and social situations and thereby elicit a variety of experiences concerning gender friendly processes and outcomes in the Panchayats. These are not just stories of individual success but histories of building or strengthening gender responsive mechanisms and processes.

The third part, Handbook/Operational Manual that is currently under construction encapsulates the collective wisdom gained through the Project in simple yet comprehensive terms for actual implementation of GFP on the ground through existing mechanisms of the PRI. This would become a key text for use by elected members, Government functionaries and grassroots workers across the states to operationalise GFP on the ground.

The third major knowledge material under construction is the Matrix on Gender Responsive Governance. Under the able leadership of the Director General, NIRDPR, the process has been spearheaded by CGSD through the UN Women Project. The Matrix is a set of measurable indicators that can be used to direct policy and allocate budgets in specific areas at the Panchayat, district and state level to ensure gender responsivity at all tiers of governance. It can also be used to assess/evaluate the status of a Panchayat/District/State on the yardstick of GRG. Currently, the Project is focusing on the GRG Matrix for the Panchayat level which can be used for evaluation as well as comparability (across Panchayats).

Both the GFP Handbook and the GRG Matrix will serve as important policy and advocacy material for institutionalising gender responsive governance on a large scale across the country.

The fourth knowledge material has been the development of a Working Paper on Gender Mainstreaming in Rural Development. This Working Paper locates current gender mainstreaming efforts in India in the history of gender and development discourses and practices, globally and locally. Analysing the gender component in Indian Planning and Policy since independence till date, it looks at the current contexts of gender mainstreaming in rural development. It further reviews gender mainstreaming efforts across development sectors such as livelihoods, agriculture, health, nutrition and WASH.