Implementation and Practice

Often in the Pacific, despite policy commitment, institutional responsibilities and gender responsive project design documents, the goal of gender equality and empowerment of women is not achieved on the ground due to lack of technical capacity, financial resources and evaluation criteria (SPC 2012). Policy must therefore be supported by tangible actions for implementation, including allocated resources for addressing women’s needs and building their capacity.

The review of GEF projects showed that awareness of the issue is growing. Generally, more recent projects were more likely to have considered gender equality in project design and in some cases, gender considerations have been retrofitted to existing project design. However, overall, gender issues were poorly considered in design, implementation and monitoring phases. Although gender sensitivity is one criterion used to assess applications for GEF grants, grantees are not required to evaluate and report on the outcome as part of the grant acquittal process. This means there are no gender-specific indicators or outcomes, making it difficult to tell whether the project has met women’s needs or contributed to their overall social and economic empowerment. It provides no mechanism for projects to sustain their focus on gender issues. The GEF Small Grants Programme Team has recognised this gap and is working with gender experts on its Technical Advisory Group to develop specific indicators for improving monitoring and reporting on gender outcomes across the region.

Similar findings were evident in UN Women research in Tonga where national climate change and DRR projects were assessed on their gender-sensitivity using the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Gender Marker, a coding system developed for tracking gender allocations of humanitarian interventions. It revealed nearly half of all projects were completely gender blind and another quarter had limited or purely cosmetic reference to gender or social vulnerability (Kingdom of Tonga 2015).

Like climate change policies, climate change project design documents may feature gender rhetoric that is not followed by gender-responsive implementation and practice. For example, a gender assessment of the Tuvalu ‘NAPA1/+’ Project showed that while the National Development Plan made explicit commitment to “promote gender equity and expand the role of women in development”, in reality only one of 15 Members of Parliament was female, and members of the Project Board and Technical Working Committees were predominantly men (Bernard 2013). While project design may fully integrate gender considerations, in reality, constraints such as the absence of a clear organisational intent or a dedicated budget can wane conscious efforts to make projects gender-responsive. Adequate resourcing and gender indicators for monitoring throughout project implementation should be conditional for project approval.

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