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NEPAD and AU Last update: 2020-11-27  

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NEPAD Reluctance to Address Gender Issues

3. A Framework for Analysing Internal Planning Coherence
Although NEPAD describes itself as a ‘programme’, it is better understood as a large scale regional strategic development plan. In this section we identify the essential elements of a development strategy, so that in the next section we can use these elements to assess the internal coherence of NEPAD in its treatment of the gender element within the plan.

Of course it is often the case that development plans do not measure up very well to the sequence of planning logic which is suggested below. If so, this is because the planning was not adequate. To the extent that a plan reveals internal contradictions or lack of logical connections, the justification for the development interventions are suspect.

A strategic development plan should typically present itself as a rational argument, pursued by logical connections along the following sequence:

Elements of a Strategic Development Plan
Situation Analysis
Policy Imperatives
Problem Identification
Formulation of Goals
Identification of Appropriate Intervention Strategies
Implementation Strategies and Objectives
Management System

Situation Analysis refers to the initial review of the situation in the area that is of interest to the plan, particularly to mention the various problem situations which might need to be addressed by the plan. Here, with NEPAD, we find mention of quite different types of problems: firstly to do with globalisation, and Africa’s need to get a fair share of the benefits from the process; secondly partnership with the West, and the need to escape from the prevailing pattern of Western domination of a ‘rider and horse’ type of partnership; thirdly, the catalogue of developmental problems of African poverty and underdevelopment.

Policy Imperatives refer to those aspects of the policy environment which are relevant when deciding what to do about the given Situation. In terms of formal planning logic, no Situation can be said to present a Problem unless there are Policy Principles that dictate that aspects of the situation are unacceptable, and therefore present a Problem on which action must be taken to eliminate or alleviate the Problem. However, the relevant policy environment is commonly omitted from plans, presumably on the assumption that everybody knows what the policy principles are, or otherwise because some aspects or the situation are ‘obviously’ unacceptable, and are ‘obviously’ adopted as a problem. In the case of gender, the reader would like to know what principles of gender equality guide NEPAD.

Problem Identification. As already mentioned, in planning logic a problem only formally comes to light when Policy Principles are set against the Situation Analysis. Despite this formal logic, many problems are identified as ‘obvious’, and may indeed be so. But the ‘obvious’ aspects of problem identification tend to be notably missing in the area of gender. Whereas many ordinary problems are ‘obvious’ without recourse to looking at the policy, gender issues tend to get overlooked, along with the gender policy itself. Gender issues may be overlooked as being ‘political’ in plans that take a technical or purely economic perspective. They may be overlooked where the vocabulary is gender neutral, in terms of ‘people’, ‘farmers’, ‘target group’, ‘beneficiaries’, and so on, which provide an easy formula for gender blind treatment of development issues. Most of all, gender issues are likely to be overlooked by male planners who are definitely not interested in recognizing or addressing issues of gender inequality. With gender issues, it may be necessary to wave the gender policy in planners’ faces before the existence of gender issues can be admitted. Despite the common lack of identification of gender issues, it is usually very easy to give gender issues a specific and precise identification in terms of the size of gender gaps, and the existence of discriminatory practices. In the case of NEPAD, the reader would like to know which gender issues, such as identified gender gaps or forms of gender discrimination, are of particular interest to NEPAD.

Formulation of Goals should follow naturally from problem identification, where a goal may be summarized as an expressed intention to address a problem, perhaps with a statement of intended quantified outcomes, to be achieved in a specified time. However, it is not uncommon for the transition from Problem to Goal to show a complete disappearance of a gender issue. Or it may be that a broad principle to address gender issues does not lead into any goal to actually address a gender issue. For example, since NEPAD claims to be interested in both democracy and gender inequality, the reader might expect of find a definite goal to close (the presently huge) gender gaps in parliamentary membership, and a statement of the time period for this target to be achieved.

Identification of Appropriate Intervention Strategies. The logic in moving from Goal to Intervention Strategy is that the chosen intervention, in order to be effective, must tackle one or more of the underlying causes of the given problem. But with poor planning, the intervention is merely considered to be a ‘good thing to do’, without any established causal connection with the original problem. Very often intervention strategies are not made clear or explicit within a strategic plan, but remain implicit within the statement of goals. Where a plan’s gender orientation proceeds as far as gender oriented strategies, it is often found that there is no clear logical, experiential or empirical connection between the gender issues and the proposed intervention to address it. Very often the systemic or structural aspects of gender discrimination are forgotten, and interventions are aimed at increasing women’s confidence, skills, literacy, and so on, i.e. limited to increasing women’s access to resources.

Implementation Strategies are the methods that are chosen to actually implement the intervention strategy. They are therefore the lower level strategies. For example, the goal of increasing women’s representation in parliament may be achieved by the broad intervention strategy of affirmative action. This may be achieved by various implementation strategies, such as reserved seats for women, or mandatory rules for political parties on proportion of females amongst candidates, or providing special material support for female candidates. A Strategic Plan should normally end, at least in its substantive content, at the level of Implementation Strategies. The remainder of planning, from Implementation Strategies onwards, is concerned with the lower levels of action planning, programme and project planning.

Objectives are the expression of the more specific and more detailed intention of implementation purpose, especially in terms of activities and intended outcomes. Very often an implementation strategy is not properly identified or even justified, but may be deduced by its being implicit within a list of objectives.

The Management System sets out the system of organization and management for implementation and supervision. From a gender perspective, it is particularly important that there is a management system capable of understanding and implementing gender oriented objectives, and for monitoring progress on gender objectives. It is also important that women are represented in management, and that women amongst the target group, beneficiaries and affected community are involved in the planning and management of implementation projects. However, there is often a mistaken belief that representation of women in management can substitute for the gender objectives which are missing from a development plan. A programme manager may claim that, although there may be no gender objectives, the programme will nonetheless be implemented in a gender sensitive way. Such an argument, in terms of the above analytical framework, is self-evident nonsense. A management team can only enter the difficult project of addressing gender issues if there is a clear mandate in the programme plan to address particular gender issues, by means of specified intervention strategies. In the case of NEPAD, we should expect that the plan should not only state clear goals and objectives to address specific gender issues, but also that the NEPAD management system is gender balanced, and includes people who are trained in gender planning and implementation, and experienced in recognising the obstacles and difficulties arising from patriarchal opposition to policies of gender equality.

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