Table of Contents

  • In 1996, the 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 on a broad-based 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 task of gender mainstreaming has both technical and managerial dimensions, as well as the political and socio-cultural aspects of creating equality and equity between women and men as partners in the quest for social justice.

  • This reference manual offers guidelines for mainstreaming gender into the legal and constitutional affairs of states. Its main objective is to assist governments in advancing gender equality in their countries. Gender mainstreaming in the state's legal and constitutional structures is a corollary to mainstreaming gender in development and ensuring equal opportunities and outcomes for women and men.

  • This Manual provides guidelines for mainstreaming gender into the legal and constitutional affairs of states. Its main objective is to assist governments in advancing gender equality in their countries. A multi-pronged approach, including a programme of law reform, is essential to gender mainstreaming and to transforming gender relations in the context of the particular society.

  • The Commonwealth Secretariat is encouraging the establishment of Gender Management Systems at the national level. This means that the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluations of laws, policies and programmes within the legal and constitutional sector should not only ensure equality and justice for all regardless of sex and gender, but should also take into account the contributions that can be made by all stakeholders working in this area. Stakeholders include Ministries of Justice, Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Ministries of Women's Affairs, Ministries of Internal/ Home Affairs, Law Reform Commissions, Legislature, Judiciary, Human Rights Commissions, Electoral Commissions, Constitutional Commissions, police, prisons, probation, Law Societies, and relevant women's organisations.

  • Policies for gender mainstreaming in the legal and constitutional sector must be developed in the context of respect for women's and men's human rights. Since the human rights discourse did not initially focus on women's human rights, an understanding of the international legal requirements for the guarantee of these rights is an important basis for gender mainstreaming.

  • In a review of a state's legal system, attention must be given to all sources, structures and processes of law. Without this information it is not possible to understand how laws and practices can be modified, challenged or repealed. Most forms of law-making require parliamentary-style formal processes to be followed, while policies and practices may be more informally amended.

  • The following recommendations are taken mainly from the Beijing Platform for Action (PFA) and the Outcomes Document agreed to at Beijing +5, the 23rd Special Session of the UN General Assembly held to review progress made in implementing the Platform (B+5). The latter do not add to the commitments already made by states but aim to facilitate their implementation.

  • This chapter offers a model that might be used for an integrated approach to eliminating violence against women. The model follows the principles of the Gender Management System (GMS) by promoting political will; forging a partnership of stakeholders, including the government departments and NGOs; building capacity; and sharing good practice. It is an operational cum intervention model designed to provide a framework for planning and implementation of an integrated overall strategy.

  • The following six-fold list of different spheres of activity has been adapted from a one suggested as a good basis both for establishing a programme for achievement of women's advancement and as a check-list for assessing progress towards gender mainstreaming (Giele, 1977). The list is not comprehensive but rather provides a starting point. It can be added to in many ways according to specific contexts.