Interview with Ramon Cervera (UNCDF): Applying a Gender Perspective to DLG

For the special gender edition of the DeLoG Newsletter on the occasion of International Women's Day, partner organisations of the network shared their experiences working on DLG with a gender perspective. In this interview, Programme Specialist Ramon Cervera highlights the importance of the Gender-DLG nexus to UNCDF's work in Mozambique.

"People celebrate in Nangir village after hearing the news that their village has been earmarked to receive a new health clinic as decided by the proposal put forward by women at the prioritization exercise during the local consultative council. The nearest health centre is currently 18 km away. Torrential rain due to climatic change has often made it impossible for villagers to reach it even on foot". Zambezia Province, Mozambique, 02 June 2020 (© UNCDF/Karel Prinsloo)

Why does gender mainstreaming matter to you?

Gender mainstreaming brings equal opportunities to both man and women, an equality-based and driven society bring fairness and this, in due course, is expected to bring social, economic, and cultural development. That is the reason why gender mainstreaming into planning, budgeting, and financing cycles are fundamental to promote local development.

Why is the nexus of gender and DLG relevant to UNCDF in Mozambique?

In Mozambique, UNCDF technically and financially support local governments to move forward locally led development processes. Gender equality and women empowerment are fundamental variables in this process, making the development impact more resilient, equitable and sustainable. Through prioritization methodologies, planning and budgeting tools, both women and men, old and young, represent their knowledge, development experiences and hopes of local communities, showcasing how the narrative nexus between gender, decentralized local governance and development is easily found at local level. The socio-economic and political dialogue between local governments and local communities move the gender equality component forward in the process of development.

According to your personal experience, what can institutions and authorities do to integrate gender perspectives into local governance systems?

The first and most important step for local governments to mainstream gender perspectives into the decentralized governance systems and decision-making processes is to raise gender awareness within their own institutional structures and communities. This should be followed by identifying and reinforcing the institutional accountability of the local government officials in ensuring that gender is mainstreamed into decentralized planning, budgeting and procurement processes; and finally by taking action and financing locally led development interventions in a gender responsive manner. Both activities need to consider the differentiated and complementary voices of women and men in the planning dialogue exercise.

In the Financing Local Resilient initiative in Niassa Province, Mozambique, local governments are fine-tuning a gender-responsive methodology for the prioritization of adaptive infrastructure for local development; this locally led planning tool involves the dialogue between women, traditional-local leaders, youth and CSOs members, which facilitates the mainstreaming of women experiences and knowledge into decentralized governance decision-making processes and financing cycles. This is a fundamental variable to facilitate a gender equitable access to financial resources and promote women empowerment.

What should an exchange of knowledge concerning DLG and gender amongst development partners focus on?

The local government development interventions, technically supported by UNCDF, are financing adaptive infrastructure for local development. These locally led interventions should, to the highest degree possible, strive to reflect on who is benefiting from them. Are the women and men equally benefiting from the decentralized governance decision-making processes and local government finances? Are women voices articulated into the decentralized planning and budgeting processes? Do women and men have equal access to decentralized finance for economic empowerment? While reflecting upon this narrative, the local government should take into consideration the norms, values and principles associated to the role of man and women within the local communities, and mainstream them with care into decentralized governance systems, processes and cycles to transform further gender equality.