Table of Contents

  • In 1996, Commonwealth Ministers Responsible for women's Affairs mandated the Commonwealth Secretariat to develop the concept of the Gender Management System (GMS), a comprehensive network of structures, mechanisms and processes for bringing a gender perspective to bear in the mainstream of all government policies, programmes and projects. The success of the GMS depends upon a broadbased partnership in society in which government consults and acts co-operatively with the other key stakeholders, who include civil society and the private sector. The establishment and strengthening of gender management systems and of national women's machineries was the first of 15 government action points identified in the 1995 Commonwealth Plan of Action on Gender and Development.

  • This manual is intended to serve as a guide to governments and other organisations that are seeking to advance gender equality and equity through the mainstreaming of gender in development planning. Gender mainstreaming involves addressing gender inequalities in all aspects of development, across all sectors and programmes, especially in decision-making structures. The Commonwealth model for achieving this is the Gender Management System (GMS), an integrated system of structures, mechanisms and processes for advancing gender equality and equity.

  • The Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995) and the Beijing Platform for Action have provided new impetus for governments and civil society organisations to address gender inequalities in society at all levels. Initiatives in this regard have emerged out of a process that began with the UN Decade for Women in 1975-85 and the Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies in 1985, and continued through the major UN world conferences of the 1990s, particularly the Environment Conference (Rio de Janiero, 1992), the Human Rights Conference (Vienna, 1993), the Population and Development Conference (Cairo, 1994), and the Social Development Summit (Copenhagen, 1995). Women are determined that commitments made by governments at these conferences to promote gender equality and equity are implemented.

  • Efforts to promote gender equality have in recent years shifted in focus from ‘women in development' to ‘gender and development'. The ‘women in development' approach began with an uncritical acceptance of existing social structures and focused on how women could be better integrated into existing development initiatives. Targeting women's productive work to the exclusion of their reproductive work, this approach was characterised by income-generating projects for women that failed to address the systemic causes of gender inequality.

  • This section examines the major issues in development planning, identifies some gender-related problems that can arise, and points to possible solutions by way of suggested action points that governments may wish to adapt to national circumstances.

  • Attempts to mainstream gender into the planning sector should be located within country-specific political and administrative contexts. Gender policy should be integrated into organisational planning instruments such as budget lines, project criteria, operational tools, and day-to-day practice and procedures. The belief system and culture of the organisation will only change if policy is translated into democratic decision-making and a gender supportive work environment.

  • Access to relevant sex-disaggregated data has been identified as an important element in mainstreaming gender into development planning. The GMS series of publications includes a detailed guide to the use of gender-sensitive indicators, which may be of use to Commonwealth governments in this regard.

  • This section looks at some general indicators on the situation of women in two Commonwealth countries, India and South Africa, and efforts by governments to advance gender equality in those countries. It also develops a typology of these countries' planning responses to gender.