Reflecting on accountability: gender equality and minorities

Please find some interesting inputs from colleagues concerning accountability and inclusiveness that came up during the Regional F2F of West Africa (shared by Dorothy and Kader) as well as the DDLGN F2F. (by Evelin Stettler)


  • National government “standards” for accountability might not be ideal from an SDC perspective (not enough inclusive, not enough gender-sensitive
  • Exclusion
  • Under-representation of women in politics
  • Inclusion and voice in decision making
  • No access to information
  • Persistent mindsets on specific gender roles
  • “Invisible” powerful actors that don’t want to change gender roles
  • Time constraints (especially for women participants)
  • There can be significant resistance against empowerment of as well as no political will to address women and minority issues (creating problems in relation to sustainability)
  • In Conflict Contexts it is even more difficult to reach out to women (e.g. Pakistan)

SDC possibilities to address these challenges

Policy level:

  • Including gender actors in the political economy analysis and engaging with interested national entities on gender and inclusiveness issues (e.g. Lao Womens Union).
  • Do power analysis also between elite women and rural women and addressing these power issues accordingly (Bangladesh)
  • support policy reforms focusing on inclusiveness and enabling rules and regulations (e.g. for women’s participation)
  • Use of evidenced based stories from the local level in the policy dialogue
  • Use of new technologies for access to information (e.g. for specific minority groups)
  • Supporting alliance building (between women / women’s groups / state institutions responsible for gender issues)
  • Supporting/Training/Mentoring (leadership, public speaking) of potential as well as elected women and facilitate networking amongst them and important (national) gender state actors (Bhutan)
  • Support Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting on local and national level
  • Politicisation of issues and polarisation based on party affiliations are common phenomenon in Bangladesh. Political parties try to co-opt successful women leaders. Therefore materials, training modules, in-formation, education and communication need to carefully ensure that issues are addressed through a non-partisan lens. Projects should emphasizes leadership over partisan politics and re-affirm that it provides opportunities to open up political debate without taking a political stance.



Gender stereotypes are common, especially in patriarchal societies and significant resistance can exists against empowerment of women. Such resistance can be expressed in particularly strong terms and often violently by fundamentalist groupings. The solidarity of women networks can help to mitigate these threats as well as the linkage with media and vertical tiers of political power. A Bangladesh project seeks to include male and female elites and religious leaders with sympathetic views in events and encourages them to advocate on behalf of the programme.

  • Support Changing mindsets of gender roles through art/humor/media (theaters, songs, poems) for example on sharing stories about “role models” such as successful elected women politicians (e.g. Laos and Bolivia)
  • Specifically collaborate with “traditional/unusual” actors for addressing mindsets about gender roles.
  • Cooking classes for (young) men 🙂

Project activities:

  • Voice of (female) engagement during decision making: Macedonia – Specifically train moderators and facilitators to make community forums (for accountability) inclusive by engaging “passive” participants (as well as having standards on participants as e.g. 30% minimum of men and women)
  • Pakistan: Find “unusual” ways in governance-projects on how to reach out to women, e.g. by including livelihood aspects targeted on women in your projects
  • Providing project partners with gender trainings as well as clearly define roles and responsibilities related to gender in ToRs of project management and officers
  • Including gender experts in planning and evaluating projects
  • Timing/Mobility: If a minimum of e.g. 35% of women’s participation in all capacity buildings and trainings of a project is set, some specific measures in order to realize this can be taken:

Follow-up on the applications of women-

  • Ensure that at least 50% of the invitations have been sent to women.
  • Monitor the applications; if you see that the % of women participants will not be satisfying inquire directly with the women that have not sent their applications why they did not apply and try to find solutions for their participation

Improve access to child and elderly care –

  • Special budget could provide women to take their children (and babysitters) with them to meetings, events, trainings
  • Child-care facilities could be provided at the meeting venue
  • Organize day-care-centres or organize groups taking care of children while women attend meetings, events, trainings

Special measures for overnight stay –

  • Special measures should be taken in order for women to participate in trainings/events that include one or several overnight stay (e.g. separated rooms for women and men)

Special measures for overnight stay –

  • Special measures should be taken in order for women to participate in trainings/events that include one or several overnight stay (e.g. separated rooms for women and men)

Thinking about mobility and timing of meetings –

In order for women to participate in meetings, trainings, events outside their villages the transport has to be organized. The time of the meetings should be set in order to make it easy for women to participate.

Evelin Stettler

Further reading

If you desire to learn more about the topic, please consider this reading list:

pdf-xsThe World Bank Social Accountability contextual drivers (how to assess the context)

pdf-xsThe broader mapping context resource paper

linkAnuradha Joshi’s paper on causal chains and context

linkOn technology for accountability: All the IDS MAVC (Making all voices count) material

linkThe ODI sector characteristics work (relevant to accountability )

linkGeneral information about International IDEA
linkThe guide on Democratic Accountability in Service Delivery … and the one page version

linkInternational IDEA’s State of Democracy and State of Local Democracy frameworks

linkThe World Development Report 2014 of the World Bank – Making Services Work for the Poor

pdf-xsDAC guidelines: accountability and democratic governance: orientations and principles for development

pdf-xsInternational IDEA: Democratic accountability in service delivery (short version here)


pdf-xsA report from the assessment of democratic accountability in solid waste management in three capital districts in Malawi (International IDEA)


pdf-xsSeven papers covering 20 cases on the use and possible effects of democratic accountability (International IDEA)


Message from Manuel Sager, Director General of SDC

During the workshop launch, the video message from Manuel Sager, Director General of SDC, was highly appreciated by participants. In his message Mr. Sager emphasizes the importance of DDLG within SDC work. Also Mr. Sager addresses SDC employees in the cooperation offices directly:

I would like to address especially our NPOs and implementing partners. You are the backbone of our work in the field. You know the contexts, you know the systems, and you know the people. You have a crucial role in analyzing the needs in our countries of operation, in devising the programs and projects, and in implementing them efficiently and effectively. We value your opinion as highly as we appreciate your technical work.


ddlgn 248Welcome to the 2015 face to face event of the Democratisation, Decentralisation and Local Governance Network (DDLGN) of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). In the coming days this page will give you all the information participants need to be well prepared for this intensive learning journey.

On the left you find the main menu. The info tab gives you all the information about the venue and participants. The programme tab takes you to the workshop programme.