In 2019, the regional initiative Rendir Cuentas coordinated a pilot exercise to apply its self-assessment tool around the 12 commitments of the Global Standard for CSO Accountability among a group of its member organizations in Latin America. This self-assessment exercise revealed the need for strengthening CSOs’ work around certain commitments of the Global Standard (GS); in particular, on GS commitment #2 on women’s rights and gender equality.
In light of these results, Grupo Propuesta Ciudadana (a consortium of non-governmental organizations devoted to support democratic consolidation in Peru) held a virtual session to share experiences of member CSOs that have been implementing actions towards fulfilling the Global Standard commitments so that they could serve as inspiration to other CSOs, including actions in support of women’s rights and gender equality. Thus, the Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo y la Participacion (CEDEP) in Peru, an organization working on local development, water management, climate change mitigation and food security, shared its approach on gender equity.
CEDEP’ efforts to promote gender equity were aimed both internally as well as in its relationships with its external stakeholders or main constituencies. In this regard, CEDEP sought the expert advice of a gender specialist to develop its institutional policy, which was adopted in March 2019, and is aimed at achieving women’s empowerment and gender equity. This objective was conceived in sync with the organization’s commitment to sustainable development, by recognizing the importance of equal opportunities and enjoyment of benefits for men and women.
This policy was approved by the organization and is currently being implemented. On the other hand, in its current five-year institutional strategic plan, CEDEP has established an indicator that assesses the reduction of gender gaps both within the organization and through the projects implemented.
With respect to some actions implemented internally, CEDEP has incorporated a gender perspective using inclusive language in its contracts and reports, to revert the predominance of male language in both written and verbal communication within the organization. Also, for the past two years, training has been delivered on the importance of gender equity but given the level of staff rotation, further and permanent training opportunities are required. In addition, CEDEP has set the goal of gender parity in its leadership positions, by increasing the number of women on its board of directors and in its members’ assembly – where women currently represent approximately 40% of the total number. In addition, measures have been taken to prevent gender bias during the selection of staff and, in certain cases, to apply affirmative action in favor of women. Finally, emphasis has been placed on the need to balance the staff members’ work and family life.
Although CEDEP initially hired a gender specialist, a decision was later made to mainstream gender throughout the entire organization. In this regard, it became clear that having a gender specialist was insufficient, since project expert teams as well as all the staff within an organization need to get empowered and apply it in the projects, in the office and at home. However, the realization of the idea of establishing a gender committee at CEDEP is still pending.
With respect to CEDEP’s engagement with its main external stakeholders or constituents, a decision was made for conducting a gender appraisal at the beginning of each project while also incorporating a gender-related project indicator, such as the number of female technicians or engineers employed. However, some barriers must be overcome, for instance, for hiring female facilitators, as women do not usually drive motorcycles to get around in rural areas. CEDEP has also emphasized the need to pay attention to women’s workload so that they can participate more in CEDEP project -related activities. In regard to the logistics of the activities organized within the framework of its projects, CEDEP has decided to cover food provision for the entire family so women participants come with their children. On the other hand, CEDEP has started to provide training on new masculinities, as there is a deep-rooted machismo in certain rural areas in Peru. In this way, the female technicians or engineers hired by CEDEP projects do not face questions from their husbands or partners about their interactions with other men, or about the workload and its impact on their family life of project participants, emphasis is placed on families in order to increase project receptivity. In this sense, the importance of incorporating men and the family is crucial when promoting gender equity.
Through the above-described actions, CEDEP has started to mainstream gender equity across the entire organization, rather than focusing on a specific program, initiative or area of the organization. In conclusion, CEDEP’s experience constitutes an example of how organizations working on different issues have decided to gradually incorporate a gender perspective both into their internal and external work.