Current Public Administration Magazine (May - 2014) - "Rural Development Programmes"

Sample Material of Current Magazine

Rural Development Programmes

Gender Audit

The Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007- 2012) of the Government of India which had reiterated the commitment to gender budgeting also stated that the plan “will ensure that each Ministry/ Department of both Centre and State should put in place a systematic and comprehensive monitoring and auditing mechanism for outcome assessment. In addition, the Ministry of WCD, Ministry of Finance, and Planning Commission will ….undertake gender audits of public expenditure, programmes, and policies…..” (Vol II Social Sector, pg 200).

Keeping this as the backdrop, the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) planned to undertake schematic analysis of the programmes/schemes of the Government from a gender perspective. To facilitate the process of Gender Audit, however, it was felt essential to develop a concept note. The concept note will help to develop clarity on objectives and need for gender audit, and its definitions and concepts. There was also a need to study international practices2 in gender audit and based on the learnings and best practices a methodology most suitable for carrying out gender audit of programs / schemes in the Department of Rural development, Govt of India, is prepared taking into consideration the existing Systems and Structures.

Gender Audit- an introduction:

Women and men from various social groups are positioned differently in society- in the workplace and family- and have different responsibilities and needs. Due to this, women and men have different experiences, knowledge, talents and needs. Therefore, different programmers/schemes are designed to address this imbalance. Public services like education, health, transportation and welfare are utilized differently by women and men; as a result budgets impacts men and women differently.

UNESCO defines gender audit as management and planning tool. Gender Audit evaluates the gender responsiveness of an organization’s culture and how well the organization is integrating the gender perspective into its work. The audit outcome aims to assist the organization to become more gender responsive. It is also a kind of impact evaluation that assesses or measure the impact of interventions on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

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Traditionally audits are commonly associated with accounting audits in the financial world, used to certify that the finances and administration are legitimate, with established rules and regulations correctly followed3. In the 1980s, quality management audit was introduced in companies to promote improvement of company performance. Following the same principles, social audits have been developed in a range of organizations to measure the extent to which they live up to “the shared values and objectives” to which they are committed. Social audit is a framework which allows an organization to build and develop a process whereby it can account for its social performance, report on that performance and draw up an action plan to improve on that performance. Gender Audit is one such form of social audit.

Therefore, it can be summed up by stating that Gender Audit is a guided process to examine “what has been done” and “what has not been done to meet the Governments stated objectives of gender equality. The definition of Gender Audit as adapted from various international definitions would be as below:

A Gender Audit is a tool to assess the accountability to and extent of Gender Budgeting accomplished- the integration of gender concerns into policies, strategies, programmes and schemes of all types. Its aim is to see whether the policy, guidelines, practices, systems, procedures and budgets are being used in the most effective way to deliver the Government’s commitments to gender equality.

Characteristics of Gender Audit:

1. Gender Audit takes into account whether internal practices and related support systems for gender mainstreaming are effective and reinforce each other.
2. Monitors and assesses the relative progress made in promoting gender sensitivity
3. Identifies critical gaps and challenges
4. Recommends ways of addressing these challenges and suggests new and more effective strategies to overcome gaps.
5. Documents good practices towards the achievement of gender equality.

Aim and objectives of Gender Audit in the Department of Rural Development:

The overall aim of gender audit is to review mainstreaming of gender effectively in policies, programmes and structures of the Department of Rural Development and assesses the extent to which such policies have been institutionalized.

A Gender Audit provides the tools to audit the processes which have been undertaken by the Department under the various policies, schemes and programmes. It examines whether and at what level Gender Budgeting initiatives have been adopted in the planning, implementation and review of the policies and budgetary allocations of the Department. The results of Gender Audit can provide learning and guidelines for Gender Budgeting to revisit policies, programmes and schemes as well as implementing mechanisms to ensure Gender mainstreaming. The Gender Audit will help the institution to identify gaps between their own gender equality policy and practice, and the way their programmes impact on gender equality The objectives of the gender audit

Gender Audit of Institution of the Department and its offices

1. Generate understanding of the extent to which gender perspective has been internalized and acted upon by the office staff and senior officers of the Ministry. This will include a qualitative assessment of gender sensitivity and perspectives of the women and men staff
2. Assess the extent of gender inclusion and responsiveness being developed in terms of infrastructure facilities, Human Resource policies etc
3. Examine the representation of women at the different levels of the Ministry Gender Audit of the programme divisions of the Department
4. Gender audit of the major schemes and programs of the Department to assess whether gender mandate of these programs have been implemented and whether the process, rules and implementing mechanisms are gender sensitive and cater to the needs of the women.
5. Also to measure progress in implementing action plans on gender mainstreaming and give recommendations as needed; and
6. Identify gaps for improvement and suggest possible strategies to make Ministry’s schemes/programmes more gender sensitive.

Rationale of doing gender audit:

The fact that women and men have different access and control over resources is well known. Therefore, different project, schemes and programmes impact them differently. The way programmes and projects are designed in the Ministry has strong correlation to the gendered nature of the organization. The core premise underlying to conduct gender audit is to ensure that gender equality must be ensured in the organization’s programming and organizational practices in order to bring about the sustainable change toward achieving real equality.

Purpose of gender audit:

The entire process will be conducted to garner information on the status of gender equality. The audit will be carried out at two levels namely:

i) With the different programmes of the Ministry (MGNREGA, NRLM, PMGSY, IAY and NSAP)
ii) Within the Ministry.

The outputs of the audit process will fetch the following:

i. A reflection of the status of gender mainstreaming and equality in the institution of the Ministry
ii. A pool of information for discussion and analysis
iii. A participatory process that builds organizational ownership for the Ministry’s gender equality objective and ongoing plans on engendering the programmes.

The audit process will enable Ministry to identify the impact of the gender relations in the programme as well as within the organizational boundary.

Gender Audit Process

The gender audit process will be carried out in a methodical and participatory manner and should include voices from different levels and programme divisions. Responses from the different levels and personnel from the programme divisions of the Ministry will augment and build organizational understanding, ownership and readiness to act on gender equality.

A gender team/ advisory group comprised of senior level government officers having a sound understanding of gender issues, challenges and hands on experience on engendering policies and government programmes to prepare a plan for conducting the gender audit throughout the Ministry and its programme divisions and also able to lead the team in each step of the process. Steps to be followed:

  1. Preparing for a gender audit: a comprehensive institutional assessment like gender audit needs a well thought out strategy for communicating the purpose, objective and benefits of gender audit. Through the communication strategy, Ministry should be receptive to the idea of conducting gender audit and must commit to carrying out each of the processes of the audit.

The essentials elements of the communication and orientation strategy which includes

a. Content: what should the gender team tell the respondents about gender audit
b. Medium: it will be in participatory mode including power point presentations4, discussions and case study method
c. Target group: representatives from the programme divisions, senior, mid and junior level officers will be invited as the buy in is necessary for the department to regularize the activity.
d. Timeline: one day orientation/workshop may be organized to have a common understanding of what the audit aims to achieve with its objectives.

ii. Staff survey: conducting staff survey for the gender audit will reveal a perception of the programme divisions about the gender integration in the programme and serves as a stock taking of what they believe can the programme, policies of the Ministry serves as a scope for furthering gender equality in the organization as well as within the programme divisions.

The goal of the survey will be to elicit as much as information possible from the respondents about what they believe about the organization is doing to advance gender equality in its policies, schemes and programmes as well as in its internal operations. Two types of questionnaire will be designed to elicit the information. One for the programme division and second for the department (Institution). The questionnaire on programme dimension will delve into the following four dimensions like: 1. Programme planning and designing, 2. Programme implementation, 3. Monitoring and evaluation, 4. Technical expertise, 5. Partner organization.

iii. Focus group conversations: focus group conversations with selected staff are a valuable way to gather additional information and insights about the belief of the staff within the organization regarding gender equality, gender mainstreaming. The objective of the FGD will be to uncover additional information about the survey results and to discover participant’s vision of a “gender friendly organization”.

iv. Gender action plan: the whole process will lead to the formulation of the Gender action plan (GAP), which is off course an on-going process and also the plan intends to promote gender integration in the organization. The results of the survey and discussion will be presented and discussed with the gender team formed for this purpose. The results of the survey and the focused group discussion will be the basis to identify recommendations and activities for planning.

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