Governance and Public Sector Management
Fostering Gender Inclusivity Through Evidence-Based Policy Making in the Pacific
- Project Name: Promoting Evidence-Based Policy Making for Gender Equality in the Pacific
- Region/Country: Pacific
- Sector and Themes: Governance and Public Sector Management
- Year: 2010-2015
- Project Leaders: Sunhwa Lee
The project produced comprehensive country gender assessments based on rigorous empirical analyses and regional gender statistics, both of which were much needed for the Pacific DMCs.
Many Pacific countries rank low in the human and gender-related development indicators of the United Nations Development Programme, including basic health and education outcomes, particularly among women. Persistent gender gaps in enrollment rates, high maternal mortality rates, lack of women empowerment, low participation of women in the economy and decision-making positions, along with widespread gender-based violence, are critical concerns for improving women’s status. Weak technical capacity across government agencies in Pacific DMCs has constrained systematic and concerted policy efforts to address such gender concerns.
ADB approved a regional TA project in 2010 to assess gender-related barriers in selected Pacific DMCs and to build governments’ capacity in systematic monitoring of progress and challenges in gender equality. The project targeted women’s ministries and national statistical agencies. The project supported Cook Islands, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, and Vanuatu. Staff from the respective women’s ministries and national statistics offices from each of these countries participated.
Inputs from multiple government representatives from different ministries also enhanced understanding of specific gender-related challenges across various sectors. Civil society and development partners also helped build a broader consensus approach to regional gender issues across Pacific DMCs. The results indicated a continuous need to improve gender awareness across Pacific governments and develop institutional and technical capacities of government agencies to promote evidence-based policy making on gender equity.
Knowledge products and services delivered
Comprehensive country gender assessments were produced in Fiji, Papua New Guinea (with World Bank and other development partners), Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste (with the United Nations Development Fund for Women), while Cook Islands, Marshall Islands, and Tonga received additional capacity building. The four assessments were published as government-led documents in collaboration with other development partners and involving extensive outreach. Gender Statistics, was published in 2016, demonstrating ADB’s significant value addition in the Pacific and Timor-Leste to promote evidence-based monitoring and policy making on gender equality. The publication was produced in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, and its findings disseminated in several regional workshops.
Impact and results
The project produced comprehensive country gender assessments. The TA helped build the capacity of key government agencies, especially national statistics offices, women’s sector offices, and sector gender focal points for evidence-based policy making on gender issues. The TA raised awareness on the importance of gender statistics, which could be powerful in advancing essential gender equality agenda. The gender awareness and statistical training helped the Pacific DMCs develop more credible gender action plans and gender monitoring. A follow-on TA is continuing this work toward gender mainstreaming across health ministries and departments, and in building capacities to conduct country gender assessments in smaller countries.
Lessons for Replication
The country gender assessment process required strong technical and research capacities, as well as extensive consultation efforts. For smaller countries, it may be more useful to do an abbreviated version. Building broader political consensus across various sector agencies from earlier on will help in identifying specific sector-based gender issues and developing effective gender mainstreaming strategies. ADB’s strong leadership in advocating evidence-based policy making and building collaboration networks with development partners was essential for the successful outcome of this TA.