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.