We all must do more to promote gender equality
22 Jun 2015 by Claudio Tomasi, Deputy Resident Representative, Cuba
Gender issues and concerns relating to equality and fairness involve women and men, regardless of age, skin color, ethnic background, sexual orientation or gender identity. Men are in a position to do far more to contribute to gender equality in all walks of life, in workplaces, families, and other groups to which we belong. For those of us who lead forums in the field of development cooperation, this has to be more than a policy and institutional mandate. It must be a binding obligation that we dare not ignore and which makes us grow as people.
The Gender Seal is a UNDP certification process that provides incentives for ensuring that offices and their programmes work towards equality between women and men. In Cuba, with the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, have given our support to this process. After months of diligent effort, I had the privilege of receiving, on behalf of my UNDP colleagues in Cuba, the ultimate certification honor: the Gold Seal.
How did we achieve these positive results?
We carried out a strategic, self-critical and forward-looking diagnostic assessment of the “health” of the office (results, progress, challenges) and its ability to achieve benchmarks for making an effective contribution to gender equality.
We paused for reflection along the way, engaging in a far-reaching, comprehensive and pragmatic appraisal of office procedures and practices designed to mainstream equality between women and men in our projects and office modus operandi, particularly in human resources.
We improved our performance. Our Gender Strategy is qualitatively superior to those of previous years and takes precedence over other programmatic exercises. It is a tool that will support the framework and implementation of our activities in the country. We also recognize that it is essential to invest more resources in gender equality initiatives.
We have spearheaded another forum for knowledge management: a participatory training system focusing on new forms and mechanisms instrumental in enhancing performance in the areas of gender equality, defense of rights, and the empowerment of men.
We improved our organization and communication, with incentives to document and communicate our practices for mainstreaming gender issues and efforts to achieve equality between women and men. New products and tools arose, such as the “non-sexist primer” and UNDP-Cuba Gender Spotlight.
We encouraged our colleagues in the country also to adopt these ideas. In Cuba the UNDP Seal has provided incentives for our counterparts in government and civil society. With the Federation of Cuban Women, organizations for people living with HIV, and LGBT communities, the Seal has expanded our networks and enhanced our joint activities.
It is extremely important to enlist the support of further allies and partners in the field of international cooperation. This is vital in order to ensure that the work continues, irrespective of who is in charge. We must ensure that our Seal (and its maintenance in our office) serves to mobilize additional resources and achieve a greater impact in terms of gender equality and the empowerment of women in development.
For us, the Seal process holds the key to living life to the fullest. Amidst work pressures and responsibilities, provides an incentive, a stimulus. Our gender group is a team that thinks, reflects, facilitates, and leads, driving forward creativity and innovation to confront gender stereotypes. But it is also a group that sings, dances and enjoys the change that it engenders, knowing this project is a means to achieve better results.
I invite the men working in our offices to join with us in this undertaking. Only if women and men work together will we be successful in achieving the sweeping changes that we require.