Family Issue - Gender and Development Print E-mail
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Written by NCFC   
Thursday, 15 August 2013 00:00

Despite the great achievements made in Human and Women’s rights work over the decades, it still remains that globally there are vast economic and social differences between them. More importantly, whether intended or unintended, these differences vary across gender lines and continuously impede the individual and collective ability of women and men to reach their full potential. These types of considerations about gender should influence legal reform and the development of public policies if countries are to witness a change in these gender imbalances. Public policies can either perpetuate or eliminate discrimination and gender inequality; therefore policy-makers must take firm action to maintain a perspective that focuses on gender equity. Gender equity is achieved by systematically identifying and removing discrimination in order to give women and men equal opportunities in all facets of life.  Gender Mainstreaming involves incorporating gender considerations into all policies programmes and practises so that analysis of the effects of programs and interventions for women and men influence decisions to create gender equity. Achieving gender equity is integral to National Development so that the country optimises the human capital of women and men in development. The Revised National gender Policy 2013 does exactly this. 

Any notions of gender equity are inextricably linked to the principle that women and men may need to be treated differently to achieve equal opportunities to equity in the quality of their lives.  This principle purports that men and women may need to be treated differently to achieve sameness in results in the quality of their lives. The equity principle focuses on reducing disparity by targeting those disadvantaged groups with evidence-based programmes and interventions that help to reduce power imbalances and broaden access to services and resources to the most marginalized. These considerations have an impact on the wide range of interventions that must be implemented by the State and its partners.

This is the intent of the Revised National Gender Policy 2013.  The Policy’s visions is to reduce these gender disparities in access to: control over and benefit from resources, wealth, opportunities and services and to create an enabling environment where all are empowered to achieve their full potential. The Policy outlines the Government of Belize’s commitments to fostering gender equity along five priority areas of Health, Education, Wealth and Employment Generation, Gender Based Violence and Power and Decision-Making. The National Committee for Families and Children (NCFC) supports and applauds such endeavours.

The strength of the policy is that it has taken a gender perspective on development issues and functions as a framework to mainstream gender by stimulating reflection, providing direction and calling for strategic actions to create the enabling environment for women and men.

For instance the Policy makes provisions for gender issues in Employment processes such as recruitment and remuneration. It addresses the use of gender biased job advertisements and descriptions and advocates for equal wages for work and for family friendly practises that allow for balance between family and professional roles.

The Policy also makes provisions to include gender issues in Emergency planning. It recognizes that women and men are affected differently and have different priorities, responsibilities and protection needs.  Ensuring the safety of the populace in these crucial times require national plans to reflect these considerations.

The policy also makes provisions for gender issues in Decision-Making and champions the need for increased equality in participation in political life. It also makes provisions for Gender Budgeting an exercise that will identify where government money is spent and who benefits most.  This will reveal the institutional structures and practices that perpetuate the dominance and privileges that contribute to inequality. It will also help to determine if the interventions are responding to the need of the most vulnerable groups in society.

 In closing, society cannot develop meaningfully without transforming access to opportunities, resources and choices to allow women and men to shape their own lives. Both women and men have a critical role in national development and without a gender perspective the policies and procedures needed to capitalize on their potential remains outside the national grasp. The Revised National Gender Policy 2013 seeks to address this now and therefore we should all educate ourselves about the opportunities it will afford.

The NCFC fully endorses this policy and incorporates a gendered approach to all its work.