Capacity building in the Civil service of Mongolia for women leaders, human resource managers, and ethics councils

Posted September 30, 2021

A professional, modern and efficient civil service builds public trust and confidence. UNDP Mongolia and the Civil Service Council’s ‘Towards a Professional and Citizen-Centred Civil service in Mongolia’ project funded by the Government of Canada supports the implementation of key priorities in the civil service reform creating a stable, impartial, professional and citizen-centred civil service. As part of this objective, the project has organized programmes towards the professionalization of the civil service and support to women in the civil service, including women leadership programmes and trainings for human resource personnel, and ethics councils. 

Support to career growth of women leaders in the civil service 

The Women’s Leadership programme, is a response to the 2019 Baseline Study on Gender Equality in the Public Administration[1] which identified that women are still underrepresented at the executive level. Although women represent 61.5% in the civil service, the number is significantly lower – with only 24% of the senior principal officers being women. Furthermore, female civil servants who were surveyed in the baseline study overwhelmingly echoed a need for a comprehensive soft skills training, mentoring and coaching support, which would equip, inspire and encourage women to aspire for executive level positions.

In this second cohort of the women’s leadership programme launched by the project in collaboration with LEOS NGO on 22 September 2021, 20 women civil servants keen to expand their career paths in the civil service, and engage in continuous learning and self-development are participating from a range of government organizations including ministries, agencies, state administrative units from the Governor’s Office of Ulaanbaatar city. The Chairperson of the Civil Service Council in Mongolia, Mr.B.Baatarzorig highlighted that the approval of the programme in May 2021 was a landmark event, leading government agencies to formally adopt the curriculum on women’s leadership in the civil service in their annual human resources training and development plans. 

The programme strengthens the capacities of women civil servants on a career progression track, and will have three short-term intakes in September, October, and November. After successful completion of the three-month programme, 60 women civil servants will be certified and formally recognized at a graduation event in February 2022. 

Strengthening merit-based and performance driven systems in the civil service via capacity building of human resources managers 

A challenge that remains in the implementation of the revised 2017 Civil Service Law (CSL) aimed at advancing competency- based systems in the civil service of Mongolia is to translate the CSL into Human Resource Management (HRM) policies that are based on the principles of meritocracy. An integrated HRM system, including human resource planning, recruitment, training, promotion, and performance management all need to have a competency element embedded. 

It is estimated that approximately 1,200 specialists carry out human resources functions in the civil service. The ‘Towards a Professional and Citizen-Centred Civil service in Mongolia’ project has implemented trainings with 150 human resources personnel at the central and sub-national government agencies to equip them with the skillsets needed to implement competency based Human resources management in the civil service. The modules of the training will be also be made available on an online platform by the project to be launched in October 2021.                              

Upon completion of national trainings and amendments in key HR related procedures, the Project intends to organize a “First National Convention of HR practitioners in the civil service” to inform of the policy changes in the HRM and the steps ahead to ensure the concept of competency is institutionalized and integrated in the HRM. 

Supporting ethics councils as influencers for positive change in the civil service 

There are approximately 2050 ethics councils in public institutions in Mongolia. The project is conducting trainings with heads and secretaries of ethics councils to raise awareness on, and prevent ethical misconduct via innovative approaches. This series of workshops is a follow-up from the ‘Towards a trustworthy civil service’ forum that was held with ethics council members, lawmakers and academia in 2020 on a national level. This year, ethic council members have rejoined via the training to engage in collective knowledge sharing. 

On the agenda for the workshops are interventions on mindset changes and lessons on ethics principles to enhance the agency of civil servants in taking responsibility for their actions, instead of solely focusing on rules and regulations for resolving conflict.  Furthermore, international practices and research on ethics principles from the University of Singapore have been integrated in the programme. Ethics councils from all ministries, select agencies, all parliamentary agencies and all district governor’s offices will take part in the ethics-focused workshops. Content of the curriculum will be added to the upcoming online platform as well. 

The ‘Towards a Professional and Citizen-Centred Civil service in Mongolia’ project envisions that the select group of ethics councils will inspire and act as force of change for more positive and ethical practices in the civil service. 

Civil servants – including local leaders from aimag, soums and khoroos– are foundations of Mongolia’s progress.

Civil servants tackle the government’s most urgent tasks and put its promises into action. UNDP is pleased to have contributed to the strengthening of the civil service in partnership with the Civil Service Council and with funding from the Government of Canada to inspire a more ethical, high-performing civil service, that promotes women’s leadership.

[1] The Baseline study was commissioned by the Project. Gender booklet-0331 (