Community members validating research on gender-based violence (Senegal)

Gender, citizenship and governance

Current approaches to improving governance in order to obtain better development outcomes do not automatically incorporate a gender perspective. Nor are governance institutions always accountable to citizen’s voices.

KIT Gender’s work in this area therefore involves making gender equality a core concern in development by engaging with governance institutions to change norms, rules and practices. We further work to strengthen the accountability of public institutions to the gender-differentiated public they are supposed to serve, and build the capacity of civil society to work with the most marginalised women and men to develop their voice and agency.

How we developed our approach

The ‘gender, citizenship and governance’ approach developed initially through a three year inter-regional action research programme between 1999-2002. It was undertaken in partnership with 16 civil society and academic institutions in eight countries of south Asia and southern Africa.

The research findings were shared in an international conference and are the subject of a publication entitled Creating Voice and Carving Space: redefining governance from a gender perspective. The methodology and tools developed have been widely disseminated and used, and are subject to frequent review in the course of other projects KIT works on.

The WAGIC project was closely modelled on our existing approach, and further developed strategies and methods to aid women’s initiatives to claim citizenship and rights in their family, community and in the state. The project is concerned with helping women recognise for themselves the structures of inequality and giving them the tools necessary to work within specific contexts to change their position.

Research in action

The gender and access to justice theme is currently working on land governance issues in Uganda. It aims to build the capacity of non-governmental organisations to facilitate women’s ability to successfully claim rights to land and work with the adjudicatory institutions – customary and state – that govern land relations.

There are two projects working with multilateral agencies to include a gender perspective in the governance reforms underway in Iraq. The Gender Review of the Iraq Public Sector Modernisation Programme and the Gender Responsive Budgeting in Erbil Iraq offer the opportunity to incorporate our gender, citizenship and governance approach in a multi-agency UN joint programme, supporting the Government of Iraq.

These UN multi-agency programmes do not traditionally include citizen voice as an important aspect of reforming governance institutions. However, our projects have included civil society organisations as part of the overall approach to public sector modernisation and the implementation of gender responsive budgeting.