“Women have largely been more affected by urbanization than other segments of the population. Therefore, a deliberate effort has to be made by local authorities to put on their gender lens when planning development projects and programmes in their counties, cities and town” – Opening remarks at the workshop of Mr. Alioune Badiane, Director Project Office, UN-HABITAT Kenya
UN Women and UN Habitat jointly carried out a workshop in collaboration with the Association of County Government, Cities, Municipalities and Towns of Kenya (ALGAK) to increase the capacity of local government staff from five countries of the Lake Basin Region on gender mainstreaming within their work. Around 50 government officials from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi participated in the weeklong workshop funded by the JP GEWE in May 2013 at the Imperial hotel in Kisumu. The workshop provided a wider scope of knowledge through exchange of best practices within the region and learning from the experiences of others through interactive dialogue.
Some of the participants highlighted the stereotyping of women within their communities and how these cultural limitations restrict their roles within society. Ms. Julia K. Twebaze representing the Ministry of Water & Sanitation from Uganda described that on one of her community visits she could not get any feedback from the women as only the men talked. Later on, it was explained to her that women in that particular community were not allowed to speak in front of men. On her next visit, she organized a separate meeting with the women and it was a huge success as she received plenty of feedback from the women. In Rwanda, the government has established National Gender Desks where community members, especially parents are encouraged to report cases of gender based violence and seek further help.
A newly published Gender Checklist Handbook was also shared with the participants during the workshop as resource material. The local authorities in collaboration with the Netherlands Association of Local Governments (VNG) adapted the checklist. The Handbook is a guide for the County Governments to identify, analyze and address gender equality gaps in their processes. It gives a list of issues that concern projects, policies and system to help identify the extent of men and women’s involvement in the local government processes.
UN Women has been working successfully with the Association of County Government, Cities, Municipalities and Towns of Kenya (ALGAK) since 2009 and managed to establish eight Gender Centres of Excellence as well as trained senior local authority staff and councillors on gender mainstreaming and budgeting. Similarly, UN Habitat with support from SIDA has been working with local authority partners through the Lake Victoria City Development Strategy (LaVRLAC) for the last ten years. This joint workshop allowed the two agencies to combine their comparative advantages in this area for a more insightful and practical learning approach.