Oyuntuya Shagdarsuren acts as Deputy Director of the promising 6-year programme “Enhancing Resource Management through Institutional Transformation: MERIT”, and recently completed the Course on Gender Mainstreaming facilitated by the UN Women Training Center in close collaboration with the UN Women Regional Office in Asia and the Pacific.
“MERIT aims to help partners understand that gender equality stands in the ‘heart’ of the government planning, budgeting, monitoring, evaluation and reporting. This approach is taking seed, especially, through the Course on Gender Mainstreaming that was held recently, first through online tools and then in a face-to-face session in Bangkok, Thailand,” she says.
The blended course Gender Mainstreaming has been facilitated from 18- September to 13 October in its online phase. Afterwards,the face-to-face workshop was held in Bangkok between 16-20 October. The objective of the Course was to strengthen the capacities of UN staff, development organizations, governments and other stakeholders to mainstream gender in public policies, programmes and projects and institutions and organizations.
As Oyuntuya explains, one of the richest added values of the course lies within the space for exchanges of experiences among the course participants. Also that “by participating in this course, we clearly understood how to mainstream gender through making evidence-based decisions, developing clear goals and results as well as measuring progress through indicators. Various tools for doing gender analysis such as Moser and Harvard frameworks were discussed and compared and we reviewed examples of gender-blind policies and sought ways of applying gender equality concepts into sector policy documents as well as in the institutional context using participatory gender audit. My counterparts from Mongolia appreciated a lot the opportunity to practice their advocacy skills in one of the group exercises”, she explains.
Another important aspect of learning was to engage men and boys so that we are “not leaving anyone behind” and for women we have to focus on providing voice, choice and safety which are stated under Goal 5 of Sustainable Development Goals. We also increased our understanding about what other countries are working on including fighting gender-based violence in the Asia Pacific and gender-responsive budgeting in Timor-Leste,” she argues.
She also elaborates on the fact that Mongolia has been highly represented in the las edition of the training: “Gender focal points from five partner institutions together with me participated in this course, and the participant from the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry clearly outlined what gender mainstreaming means for her work”.
Mongolia is a signatory to all conventions and international agreements on gender equality. The country enacted a Law on Gender Equality in 2011 as well as an update on the National Program on Gender Equality in April 2017. “I would say that we are fortunate to have a sound legal framework with regard to Gender Equality compared to some other countries. However, our challenge lies in implementation and a lot more action is needed. There are conceptual misunderstandings evident in the country that gender is all about women and this misunderstanding acts a constraint in talking about gender to men in leadership positions,” Oyuntuya argues.
From her words, it is obvious that Oyuntuya is committed to advance the Gender agenda in Mongolia: “Mongolia’s gender policy is focused on assisting the line ministries to develop their sectoral policies. The Ministry of Environment was the first to develop a national gender strategy in the environmental sector in 2014. However, this approach does not support Gender Mainstreaming and continues to view gender equality as a stand-alone policy. Most organizations engaged with our project still consider gender as a low priority activity compared to technical aspects of their work. The new national gender policy has aspects of gender mainstreaming which will aid in our work in the future.”
The impact of the Course in those who did not participated is also mentioned by Oyuntuya, who states that “upon their return, the participants from our team will make a presentation to their colleagues about developing a gender mainstreaming action plan for their organizations. It is important to build the conceptual understanding and create first examples of gender mainstreaming in the technical documents and organizational workplan. Once these become available in the country the process will expand into the sector and the community levels.”
About the main lessons derived from the training, she explains: “To advance on Gender Equality it is important to work both globally and locally. This is what we understood from the training and from so many experiences shared during these weeks. At the end of training we were asked to write down an individual action plan and the first item on my list was to incorporate gender mainstreaming as a responsibility in the terms of references for each team member in our project. Gender mainstreaming is clearly teamwork and I will use this approach in the future. The UN (Women) training helped tremendously not only in making short- and long-term planning for project activities, but also in explaining the process to our Mongolian partner organizations and building their commitment to gender equality.”
“The message our team is bringing back to Mongolia is that ‘Gender mainstreaming is no longer optional’. We had an excellent review of mandatory documents that countries including Mongolia have agreed to, which include the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979), the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) and the UN Economic and Social Council’s agreed conclusions on gender mainstreaming (1997).
Seven public institutions (Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry, Mineral Resources and Petroleum Authority, the Mongolian University of Science and Technology, the Institute of Geography and Geoecology, the Mongolian National Mining Association and the Governor’s Office in Dornod Province) are involved in the MERIT Project in Mongolia. The initiative is funded by Global Affairs Canada in close collaboration with the Mongolian government and it will be developed until 2023. It aims at stimulating sustainable economic growth in Mongolia by strengthening the capacity of public institutions and local communities to effectively manage the extractive sector.