The Great Lakes Gender Equality Scoping Study Report is out!

Blaise Ndola
Blaise Ndola
Published: Jan. 26, 2023
Poster Gender Analysis Study Launch, January 2023, Twitter

Executive summary

Dowload for free the study in PDF HERE.

Increased social inclusion produces stable societies with robust democracies and gender equality is central to peaceful and sustainable development. The public focus on gender issues in peace-building has been growing since 2000, when the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1325. Women’s increased visibility in preventing violence dramatizes the need for men and women to work together to uphold peace. The Great Lakes Youth Network for Dialogue and Peace- Our Diversity - our Opportunity! is a project funded by European Union incorporating gender inclusion. The Gender equality study was conducted alongside a baseline study of the project, to highlight solutions to the cross-cutting problem of gender inequality in the Great Lakes Region in order to increase the inclusivity and effectiveness of peace-building related interventions.

The objective of this study was to analyze the gender equality landscape across the four countries(DR Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania) of the Great Lakes Youth Network for Dialogue and Peace Project interventions and map the critical gender issues for integration into the project. Field data collection for the gender analysis study was conducted alongside the baseline study.

Except for Tanzania, the situation is still fragile in the other three project countries, although the states are more peaceful today than they were ten to fifteen years ago. Gender has long been recognized as a key factor in both violent conflict and peace-building although issues of masculinities have seldom been addressed in peace-building.

The gender profiles per county were aggregated through review of documented country reports and studies, capturing key issues. From the analysis findings, overall Rwanda appears to fare better than other project countries. Across the board, discriminatory practices limiting women participation in peace processes are reportedly exacerbated by cultural practices and weak regulatory systems. Gender based violence is also cited to contribute greatly to insecurity whereby 66% of respondents implicate GBV to insecurity across the region. Youth initiatives indicated to be integrating gender in their actions but in practice, this is questionable as demonstrated by a number of related responses, and a lack of necessary tools to adequately mainstream gender.

Overarching issues in Rwanda are integrating gender into youth actions and workplaces; and, challenges in integrating gender into actions and workplaces. As for Tanzania, key issues include lack of women involvement in formal and informal peace processes; lack of gender integration tools; and, gender-based violence. Uganda, in spite of having made significant progress in developing legal frameworks, women in Uganda still face discrimination and marginalization due to slow change in attitudes about women in the society and the culture and practices of public institutions. DR Congo women face discrimination of a high order coupled with gender-based violence, eroding trust between men and women thus limiting their contribution to peace processes.

Women’s individual and collective action, whether in formal politics, civic society or the economy, provide opportunities for them to voice their needs and demands, but when exposed to broader communities also come together to advocate for gender equality and to advance their strategic interests thereby instilling tranquility. Since the voices of leaders are vocal projections of what they think and believe, women leadership contribute to an important vehicle towards inclusiveness. Sustainable Development Goal Five on gender equality provides for the increase and meaningful participation of women in political decision making, whereby countries in the region will be voluntarily on their progress. Youth initiatives, therefore, should align their efforts towards promoting the role of young women political leaders.

For meaningful peace building, institutions need to embrace values of gender justice that are recognized to be in the interest of all. From the analysis, youth initiatives need to rethink on how to meaningfully integrate gender issues. Overall, respondents in this study, only 29% were women whereas only 47% of youth initiatives have developed and adopted gender integration tools.

UNFPA estimated COVID 19 disruptions would see a regression on progress to curb GBV by a third whereby in countries with reporting systems in place an increase of up to 25% of GBV cases have been reported. Confronting violence against women is an urgent challenge given legislative weaknesses and high prevalence rates in an already precarious peace building across the region.

On economic empowerment programs - an action prevalent in most youth initiatives, there is evidence that women’s representation in decision-making is associated with a supportive overall environment for gender equality and for women’s economic empowerment, and less support for norms condoning intimate partner violence. A meaningful gender analysis is a prerequisite for projects that seek to achieve inclusive and sustainable impact on economic opportunities for youth in the Great Lakes Region.

There are two regional cooperation initiatives focusing on cross-border trade and energy which integrate peace-building objectives: the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (IC/GLR) and the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL). Within two institutions energy cooperation and cross-border trade – are introduced and embedded in the broader regional conflict dynamics. This project can harness synergies, complementarity and regional recognition from the two bodies and other initiatives of their kind.

In conclusion, the contribution of youth initiatives in strengthening accountability for regional gender equality will require transformative approaches to inspire, inform and catalyze action to build a fairer, more inclusive and sustainable future. Governments in the Great Lakes Region are at different levels of policies and practical commitment on gender equality, indicating the need to understand the heterogeneity and engage through “SMART” strategies guiding project interventions.

This gender analysis has led to identification of specific recommendations for strengthening the focus on gender in the Great Lakes Youth Network for Dialogues and Peace-Our Diversity-our Opportunity! Project. In brief the recommendations are:

  1. To embed indicator 4d (% of youth initiatives developed and adopted gender integration tools in youth initiatives actions) added in the updated project logical framework into project implementation, monitoring and evaluation frameworks.
  2. To facilitate support to youth initiative on systematic integration of gender in their workplaces and programs through a Gender Transformative Approach in order to strengthen and sustain gender focus in networking and peace dialogues.
  3. The project to consider promoting awareness for embedding an intersectional approach to the Gender-Peace nexus and the affiliated intersectional relations.
  4. The project to consider working with “role model” young women leaders and women movements in the region in dialogues.
  5. Ensuring that the Project hand-book developed to guide training of youth initiatives is inclusive of gender conceptual frameworks and practical methodological guidance.
  6. Explore and strategically engage with regional bodies, particularly the ICGLR, EAC, SADC, CEPGL and ECCAS through their thematic interventions on Gender.
  7. Adopt emerging Gender mainstreaming and Gender Assessment tools that can be used by Youth initiatives with minimal external support.
  8. Ensure that advocacy activities in the project consistently embrace measurable gender markers to be able track progress at various levels.
  9. Considering the organizational competencies in youth initiatives, it would be useful for the project to consider planning and implementing a leadership trajectory for mainstreaming gender responsiveness.
  10. Align project monitoring to gender with voluntary national reporting on Sustainable Development Goal 5 and other relevant national plans as an entry point in order to establish collaborative joint monitoring with institutional partners.
  11. The project to consider adopting the prioritization of Gender issues presented from the baseline findings in table 3 for sequencing interventions on dialogues, networking and advocacy on Gender equality.

Dowload for free the study in PDF HERE.


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