Focusing on Gender Integration

On Tuesday, September 21, MCC and the White House Council on Women and Girls co-hosted a high-level roundtable discussion on “Gender Integration in Practice” as a side event in New York on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly meetings on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The Obama Administration is deeply committed to MDG 3—promote gender equality and empower women—as evidenced in the remarks from Tina Tchen, Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, and Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-At-Large for Global Women’s issues.  Both noted that the empowerment of women and girls is very much a part of the U.S. Government’s national security strategy and foreign policy objectives.

Other participants included the First Ladies of Lesotho and Malawi, Congressman Russ Carnahan, and prominent representatives from the private sector, NGO, and donor communities.

The roundtable discussion centered on “gender integration in practice”: How do we move beyond describing how gender differences and inequalities shape development opportunities to ensuring that we actually are achieving gender equality outcomes?

Representatives from the private sector called on the “convening power of government” to foster cooperation in achieving gender equality goals through partnerships with civil society, private firms, and government entities.

Participants noted the challenges of changing institutional cultures and of “living up to our own rhetoric.”  Some noted that we must ensure that our attention to gender equality is not limited to “boutique projects” and, although there has been much progress in targeting issues that deeply affect women and girls, the challenge remains of mainstreaming gender analyses across development initiatives.

MCC’s corporate values of focusing on results and country ownership were acknowledged as core to achieving gender as well as other goals.  MCC noted our engagement in ensuring that leadership, mandate, capacity, resources, and accountability are incorporated in our operational attention to gender.

MCC CEO Daniel Yohannes opened the roundtable discussion, which I had the pleasure of moderating subsequently.  MCC was also represented by our gender and social assessment practice lead Virginia Seitz.  This engagement further demonstrates MCC’s high-level commitment to well integrating our much-noted gender policy into MCC operations and working collaboratively across the U.S. Government to keep the empowerment of women and girls at the forefront of the international dialogue on development assistance.