Gender in Decentralisation and PSR
The concepts of Democracy, Good Governance and Decentralisation are inextricably intertwined. At the heart of all of these concepts lies the notion of eliminating inequalities based on a variety of conditions (including gender) and promoting equality of participation and access, and control in all spheres.
With decentralisation the local level of governance is taking on increasing importance as a service provider and point of access to the political system and is thus a key arena in the struggle for women’s political empowerment. Local government has the possibility to be an important point of access to the political system for women, and serves as the “first rung on the ladder”.
2. Practical example of implementation
Supporting Mauritanian civil society for better local governance
In Mauritania, a comprehensive civil society support programme is due to start in mid 2007.28
During the identification phase, non-state actors insisted on the need to include a component aimed at promoting local governance. The purpose is fourfold: (i) to raise awareness of issues of local development and local governance among local populations, (ii) to strengthen the capacity of civil society to analyse the local development context and fully participate in planning processes, (iii) to promote new forms of dialogue and collaboration between state and civil society in the management of local affairs and (iv) to enhance the participation of women in decision-making processes.
Alongside this civil society programme, the European Commission is now also involved with EU Member States in a joint programming process for a decentralisation support programme. This will primarily target the national policy framework, the different dimensions of decentralisation (including territorial planning) and the strengthening of local governments. The need to involve civil society in the design and implementation of the decentralisation process has been fully acknowledged by the stakeholders involved. The challenge will be to ensure coherence and alignment of both programmes so that civil society organisations gradually become able to play their roles.
3. EU Policy documents on this issue
Governance and Development: Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee COM (2003) 615 final