Independent evaluation congratulates UNESCO on its contribution to promoting gender equality
The recent external evaluation undertaken by the Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN), an independent body of 18 countries*, underlines that UNESCO’s progress in mainstreaming gender throughout its operations is particularly strong.
The evaluation confirmed that stakeholders value UNESCO’s contribution to promoting gender equality, with 98% of the 122 partners surveyed recognizing the Organization’s impact in this regard. It underlines that policies, procedures and guidance are in place to require UNESCO staff to integrate a gender analysis in interventions. The report found strong evidence of the mainstreaming of gender in UNESCO’s education, sciences, culture and communications programmes. It also noted that the Organization produces tools to analyze gender equality that are used by other agencies and countries. Inter-sectoral cooperation on gender equality issues, for example on women in science, was judged innovative and robust.
The report highlights the designation of gender equality as one of UNESCO’s two global priorities in the Medium-Term Strategy as a landmark decision. It identifies several elements as critical for the success. Among them are: the Gender Equality Action Plans (2008-2013 and 2014-2021), which direct how gender is mainstreamed in the planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting of all UNESCO’s programmes; accountability for all for promoting gender equality; UNESCO’s Division for Gender Equality, located in the Cabinet of the Director-General, which fosters an inclusive approach to gender and a focus on gender-transformative action as the driver for gender mainstreaming; and the presence of a network of 150 Gender Focal Points for back-stopping in each sector and field office. Specific programmes, such as those focusing on girls’ education in general and on STEM in particular, gender-sensitive media indicators and the training of women journalists, and the establishment of innovative partnerships with the private sector and civil society were also highlighted in the evaluation.
The challenges identified include UNESCO’s difficult financial context, the small size and lack of field presence of the Division for Gender Equality, and the need to address underreporting on gender equality-related impacts by integrating gender targets into the design of all activities and regularly updating the gender marker in programming documents.
UNESCO’s senior management team is addressing these issues, including through the strategic transformation process established by the Director-General.
The MOPAN assessment of performance covers UNESCO’s entire Secretariat in the field and at Headquarters, including all Sectors, crosscutting units such as the Division for Gender Equality, corporate services and the Category 1 Institutes.
* Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, and two partners: New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates.