Study of gender mainstreaming in the Caribbean

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Background The mandate for gender mainstreaming underpins the comprehensive provisions of the Beijing Platform for Action which itself finds continuity with the concern for the development of institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women contained in the Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies. Governments in the Caribbean have attempted in various ways to advance gender equity not only through substantive policy but also through administrative reform. In these attempts, governments have both made progress and confronted conceptual and operational difficulties. The United Nations mid-term review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action provides an opportunity to reflect on and assess governmental action in the mainstreaming of the responsibility for gender equity throughout the State sector. In facilitating this review process, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean conducted a study on gender mainstreaming among 10 Caribbean countries, namely, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.1 The study was funded and supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA); Gender Equity Fund. This paper attempts to describe and analyze how the countries under study have sought to institutionalise or routinise the responsibility for gender equity throughout government activities, both administratively and in policy and programmes. The study also examines the effectiveness and impact of such gender mainstreaming initiatives. The research process took the form of interviews with key informants in each of the 10 countries. Representatives from the national machineries for women (NMWs); were interviewed, as were representatives from planning and sectoral ministries and from relevant non-governmental organizations (NGOs);. This study draws on the reports of these interviews; on primary material produced by government departments; and on pre-existing research and analyses of government gender programmes and policies. The research process sought to elicit information on knowledge of the mandate to engage in gender mainstreaming, organizational capacity, applications of the gender mainstreaming processes and results in gender mainstreaming.
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