In recent years, many countries have implemented decentralization legislation and have developed ways to bring government closer to people to ensure their participation and support improvements in their lives.  From a gender equality perspective, decentralization policies – from their design to their implementation – have not been adequately responsive to the priorities and needs of women and girls. The implementation of gender equality commitments at the local level requires a concerted effort by national and local governments, civil society, development partners and donor agencies. However, local governments face constraints to deliver on their commitments, including: limited capacity to implement gender-responsive planning and budgeting; weak accountability mechanisms; and limited capacity to deliver gender-responsive services.

UN Women has piloted an approach using a multi-pronged strategy of technical support alongside capacity building of local government councillors, planners and budget officers while simultaneously creating opportunities for increasing women’s participation in planning and budgeting. This work at the local level has set precedent in terms of: increasing women’s representation and participation in decision-making processes at local level; implementing gender-responsive planning and budgeting; and investing in women’s priorities addressing both their practical and strategic needs.

Strengthening local councils in Cameroon to respond to women and girls needs

In Cameroon, UN Women supported efforts to institutionalize gender responsive budgeting (GRB) in local councils and build accountability of local governments. The project strengthened the technical capacities of local councils to integrate gender priorities into planning and budgeting processes and to develop the capacities of women’s groups to monitor and enforce output based budgets in councils. As a result, 10 out of 16 local councils have adopted decisions to increase financing for gender equality, and all 16 councils have established Women Foundations for Inclusive Governance (WOFIG) and Gender Committees whose members hold key political positions in local decision-making, especially on the allocation of resources and budgets.

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Key Resources

Gender Equality and Local Governance

The publication “Gender Equality and Local Governance” is a joint collaboration between ADC and UN Women. It summarizes the learning’s that have emerged from several gender-sensitive interventions at local level. The publication brings together concrete experiences obtained in activities implemented by UN Women and the Austrian-funded “Equity in Governance” project (2007-2011). These interventions aimed to address two main questions: How can national gender legislation, national gender policy,...

Gender Assessment of Local Level Social Policies and Budgets: Case of Strumica, Shtip and Kumanovo, Macedonia

The gender assessment conducted in Macedonia attempts to analyze the implementation of the social policy at the local level in three municipalities by identifying to what extent those policies reflect the local needs of men and women, and whether the measures they propose will advance gender equality. The assessment aims to enhance the debate on gender equality issues, and to enable individuals, organizations, policy makers and policy analysts to effectively participate in the development of approaches which would increase the gender responsiveness of social policies.