The Czech Contribution to an Effective Gendered Development
On the occasion of the Czech Republic’s Presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2009, the Czech NGDOs platform FoRS carried out an ambitious ‘presidency’ project.
The project came to a close on June 23-24, when the international conference Civil Society Organizations Development Effectiveness, organized by FoRS in close cooperation with the European confederation CONCORD, was held in Prague as the official associated event of the Czech EU Presidency. The conference had a global coverage, gathering together around 170 participants from almost 50 countries from Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, Latin and North America. Among the participants were representatives of governments and donor agencies, EU officials, and members of the civil society organizations, including women’s rights advocates.
The conference was designed around the project’s main idea of reflecting on the role of CSO in the delivery of effective development. The Czech participants prepared a publication of case studies looking at the following topics from a development effectiveness perspective: Sustainable Technologies for Sustainable Development, Migration and Development, Inclusive Development, Gender and Development, Democratic Governance and Development, Agriculture and Food Security. The case studies provided groundwork for the conference, its workshops and the final proclamation.
The ProEquality Centre of the Open Society, p.b.c., a Czech NGO, coordinated the project’s priority theme Gender and Development, and contributed to the final publication with its study Development Effectiveness and Gender: the Czech Experience. The publication CSO Development Effectiveness - Searching New Ways is conceived as a Czech Contribution to the Global Process of Civil Society Organizations Development Effectiveness and in line with that, Mila Lukasova of the ProEquality Centre focused in her study on two concrete projects of Czech NGDOs, giving special attention to the relationship of development effectiveness and gender. Thus, within the framework of development effectiveness principles, the first case study examined the Sustainable Livelihoods project realized by the Caritas Czech Republic in the post-conflict area in Indonesia, and the second case study evaluated the women’s empowerment project Bon Départ carried out by Humanitas Africa in Burkina Faso.
During the conference workshop Gender and Development, the Czech experience in the realm of an effective, gendered development was shared with the experiences of gender experts from different parts of the world. Mila Lukasova concluded in her presentation that the two projects of Czech NGDOs Caritas and Humanitas Africa have the potential to contribute to the effectiveness of gender related development and progress towards the global goals of gender equality and women’s empowerment, adding that the role of the civil society organizations in the promotion of gender equality is irreplaceable in the Czech context, taking into account the low attention given to gender and women’s human rights in general in the Czech Official Development Assistance (ODA). Florence Etta from the Africa Gender and Development Evaluators Network (AGDEN) spoke about the role of CSOs in engendering development effectiveness by bringing their expertise in gender sensitive monitoring and evaluation. Having spent several years working on developing ‘shadow indicators’ to the Paris Declaration, Florence Etta underlined that the document is not only gender blind but also still entrapped in patriarchy.
With the aim to contribute to the global process of development effectiveness, the participants came together at the end of the conference to discuss the final wording of the Prague Conference Proclamation. Most of the text drafted in advance was agreed upon with slight amendments, nevertheless, a rather heated discussion evolved concerning gender. Gender was not explicitly mentioned in the drafted version, the reason being, as some expressed, that gender equality promotion is ensured by other wording such as focus on human rights and dignity (social, economic, cultural, civil and political rights are at the core of development) and challenging of systems and structures that promote or condone inequality and discrimination in any form. Yet, with strong arguments and decisive approach, experienced women’s advocates from different parts of the world pressed their suggestion to incorporate “promoting gender equality” into the final declaration.
Let’s hope and ensure that this Czech initiative supported by CSOs globally will add to an effective gendered development and to the overall development effectiveness. Having Gender and Development on the agenda of FoRS is especially important in the Czech as well as regional context of newly emerging donor countries. The Czech ODA is only slowly awakening from gender blindness, and to make a progress, gender sensitization is necessary among the Czech development actors, as well as greater involvement of gender equality advocates in development issues
The publication CSO Development Effectiveness - Searching New Ways and other related documents are available at the ProEquality website: http://www.proequality.cz/en/articles.html?articleID=278