Gender Links June 2015
Formed in March 2001, Gender Links (GL) is a Southern African NGO, headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa that promotes gender equality and justice across the fifteen countries of the region. Described in a 2005 external evaluation as a “small organisation with large footprints” GL has over the years broadened its reach through the establishment of country offices, and strengthened its organisational effectiveness to improve the delivery of results. This section of the report examines what makes Gender Links a truly Southern African organisation, and why this remains relevant. The report also reflects the findings of the recent DFID Programme Partnership Arrangement (PPA) evaluation on how GL has used flexible funding to strengthen itself institutionally. It concludes by summarising ways in which GL is adding value to gender equality work in the SADC region. GL key programmatic activities for 2014 include:
THE SOUTHERN AFRICAN GENDER PROTOCOL ALLIANCE
The roadmap to gender equality has been the nexus of operation for the SADC Gender Protocol Alliance programme. The Alliance programme is crafted as the overarching programme to build a strong movement in the SADC region through evidence based research and advocacy. The Alliance programme connects the dots from the local level to the global level. Five programme areas form the Alliance programme; namely research through the annual barometers, the SADC Gender Protocol summits, institutional strengthening, costing and alignment of gender policies and action plans, and the post 2015 agenda.
The framework of operation for the Alliance programme is the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development(SGP) which is a one stop shop sub-regional instrument that brings together all existing commitments; Beijing Platform for Action, CEDAW, Millennium Development Goals, African Charter and enhances them through time bound targets. This framework of operation has been coined as the second best from the Nordic country framework of gender equality. It brings together different players to implement gender equality through policy making, work on the ground, advocacy and voice amplification. Through a 24 steering committee member, the Alliance operates in a business unusual mode to bring together governments and civil society for the advancement of gender equality. The Alliance programme covers the entire SADC region and connects the regional strategies to global policy framework. Through partners in the Lusophone and Francophone countries, the Alliance programme is able to aptly raise national issues at a regional and global level through learning and sharing amongst focal networks. To add to the hybrid mx of activist are regional organisations that provide key expertise in areas such as building faith based movements, climate change, HIV and AIDS and involving men in the gender business.
The year 2015 marks a critical milestone for the Alliance as it is the year when the 28 targets of the SGP expire. It brings an opportunity for reviewing the SGP to align it to the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This is a year to raise the bar for the region beyond minimalism to have a rights based framework that will ensure voice, choice and control for each SADC citizen without discrimination. It is a year to be game changers on how we conduct advocacy, research and presentation around it. Yet it is also a year to look through the gaps so that no one is left behind in this new era. At a time when resources are dwindling and development funds are channelled through governments and the private sector, it is critical for the Alliance network to maintain the web of influence in the region and beyond through innovation and joint ventures but never shifting the goal post of gender equality.
GENDER AND MEDIA
2015 is an important and strategic year for the fight for human rights as well as achieving gender equality in and through the media. 2015 marks twenty years of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPFA), which identified media as one of the critical areas of concern under the “Women and media diagnoses.’ The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the SADC Gender Protocol on Gender and Development also to an end in 2015.
The expiration of the MDGs and the SADC Gender Protocol (SGP) has provided an opportunity for the GL media programme to make its mark on the global stage through the Global Alliance on Media and Gender call for visibility of the targets of the BPFA as well as media provisions in the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The BPFA remains very key and relevant to efforts include gender and media in global discourse. Twenty years after Beijing, it is clear that gender and media activists need to step up their efforts and re-strategise to ensure more systematic and sustainable solutions to gender gaps that exist in the media. The GL Media programme has continued to provide useful information on the positioning of women and men in the media and in editorial content in SADC through its ground breaking research studies as well as contributing to the Global Alliance on media and Gender Action Plan and Implementation Framework.
A key concern for GL’s media programme has been the absence of a stand-alone goal on gender and the media or the existence of targets and indicators around gender and the media in the draft post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Media remains at the core of sustainable development, voice and participation. Through its vast experience and credibility in the area of gender and media, GL has continued to chair GAMAG, a global coalition of over 500 media organisations.
The COE projects for gender in the media and in journalism and media education and training have remained Media’s flagship programmes bringing together research, advocacy, policy and training. Following the success of the media COE project GL is rolling out a similar project with institutions of journalism and media training.
The Media programme has continued to forge stronger relations with partners such as the Southern African Broadcasting Association (SABA), which co-chairs the Africa chapter of the Global Alliance on Media and Gender, Rhodes University’s Sol Platjie Institute for Media Leadership, the United Nations Education and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO) as well as journalism and media training institutions in SADC through the GIME COE project.
GL’s media programme recognition in the field is evident in the growing number of requests for training and support in media gender mainstreaming efforts. This shows the Programme’s potential to sustain its operations through the Advisory arm of GL.
Gender and Media Diversity Centre
This report discusses major events undertaken by the Gender and Media Diversity Centre (GMDC) in 2014. The centre continues to be a strong coalition of gender and media institutions; gender activists; media activists; media academics; journalists; media students; the media; national, regional and international organisations. It continues to create diverse, responsive and analytical media cadres. The GMDC does this through three strategies: knowledge creation and dissemination; investing in future media producers and through public debates on issues of gender, media and diversity issues. As it continues to reposition itself, the GMDC is now an integral part of the overarching Gender Links media programme. Over the years, GMDC meetings are happening in this has been in the backdrop of other major events or meetings hosted by GL. The last advisory group was held in May 2014.
This report covers the gender justice portfolio of GL's work. Over the years, the programme has seen a positive evolvement from an initial focus on campaigns and advocacy centring on the Sixteen Days of Activism, to working with governments on National Action Plans to End Gender Violence, to ground-breaking work in measuring GBV. The GL justice and governance portfolios are interlinked. GL has sought to cascade national action plans for ending GBV to local action plans. The GBV indicators research is also being cascaded to the local level, so that it can be used to measure progress in ending gender violence. GL has just embarked on a project for the economic empowerment of survivors of GBV at the local level. This project is operating under the hypothesis that women who are economically empowered have more voice and more choice and are thus better able to challenge societal norms through enhanced agency. GL focuses primarily on the GBV baseline research, now at various stages of implementation in six SADC countries - South Africa, Mauritius, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Lesotho. The research has provided evidence for the adoption and strengthening of National Action Plans to End Gender Violence (NAP) in the six countries. As GL cascades the indicators to other countries, the plan is to conduct the research at local level with the Centre's of Excellence (COE's) that we are working with and to aggregate these results into a national survey.
The Centres of Excellence (COEs) programme is implemented at the level closest to the majority of people, local government. The programme is designed to enhance policy implementation, action planning and on-site training backed by evidence that informs programme design and implementation. As with all of Gender Link’s work, this rights-based and needs driven programme is guided by achieving the Millennium Development Goal Three – Gender Equality and the 28 targets of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.
GENDER, GOVERNANCE AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE
The Gender, Governance and Economic Justice Programme is pivotal in ensuring the level of government closest to the people is equipped with needed skills sets and knowledge to advance women’s rights, justice and development through effective decision-making and efficient service delivery. On-site training of council officials and communities has resulted in this programme achieving major targets which include rolling out the Centres of Excellence Programme with costed action plans to over one third of the councils in the SADC region, covering 26% of the population of the ten SADC countries covered. The training of women in politics through 50/50 campaigns; collection of case studies and testimonials on women making a difference in politics pays a key role in advancing gender-responsive governance.
To enhance learning and sharing, GL and partners held district level summits for the first time ahead of national and regional summits. With 381 councils of the 977 (39%) councils in the ten countries now joining the COE programme, GL is looking for cost effective ways of cascading this programme to all councils in the ten countries and beyond; as well as backstopping work in the existing COE’s.
The entrepreneurship programme is a tool for increasing the agency of survivors of gender based violence (GBV). The programme was divided into three stages; two five day training workshops and a two and a half day meeting to assess business ideas that have been produced by the women.
The first stage of the training provides a combination of life skills training and an introduction to entrepreneurship. This phase is aptly called “Taking charge” and is aimed at building confidence, self-esteem and a belief in a future with the prospect of economic independence.
The second workshop then reintroduces and reinforces concepts and provides further and more in-depth knowledge of business management principles and skills. Topics covered include starting up a business, start-up costing market research, the importance of location, diversity, basic financial skills such as cash flow, record keeping, stock control and funding. The importance of key issues which act as barriers for women in business are also emphasised, such as the prevalence of saturated markets and access to finance.
GL has trained GBV survivors on life and entrepreneurship skills in 100 councils in ten countries to date and aims to link them to local economic development opportunities during the last phase of the current process in 2015 through a process of arranging meetings with potential sources of support in each council.
Such partnerships will form the backbone and be key to the backstopping of and business development support of those business ideas which have demonstrated sustainability.
In addition two monitoring and evaluation tools were included to measure changes which may occur as a result of the intervention. These included baseline Gender Empowerment Index Surveys (GEIs) and I stories. The former providing quantitative data and the latter qualitative information from recording the personal experiences of survivors of GBV. Follow up data will be collected in mid-2015 for comparative analysis.
RESULTS FOR CHANGE
GL has placed a great deal of emphasis in the establishment of good M&E tools and systems that enable it to monitor implementation and impact at different levels. Through this, GL is able to respond timeously and effectively to changes that occur in the environment. In 2014, GL invested further in this area through the employment of an M&E manager with experience in systems and tool development as well as analysis. This resulted in a thorough audit of M&E systems and tools and the development of an improvement plan for these. Although many of the changes will only come into effect in 2015, there was positive feedback from both staff and external partners about the process.
One of the main outcomes of this process it the attempt to streamline the way in which GL gathers, captures, and analyses M&E related data. The goal will be to increase data reliability, efficiency, and effectiveness. The main change has been the move to using Epi Info for tracking project implementation. This free software allows GL to create forms that capture information in ways that meet the organisations needs while also facilitating analysis of the information. It will even allow the organisation to map its activities on a world map over time. GL recognises that changing M&E systems takes time and comes with its own challenges which need to be supported. These changes should facilitate M&E at GL going forward.
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