Advancing National Mechanisms for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality
Following the first World Conference on Women in Mexico in 1975, the World Plan for Action for the Implementation of the Objectives of International Women’s Year was published. The Plan mentioned “national mechanisms” for gender equality and women’s empowerment for the very first time, recognizing the need to monitor the progress towards gender equality and push for the advancement of women’s rights through an appointed national institution.
Since then, those national mechanisms, which can be either governmental, semi-governmental or non-governmental, have been established in most countries across the world. They are tasked with monitoring, coordinating, and evaluating the implementation and effectiveness of local civil society and governmental programs as well as national policies, laws and legislations on women’s rights. Through awareness-raising, lobbying, capacity building, gender mainstreaming and mediation, national mechanisms aim to improve the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights for women within a given country.
Increased support and achievements
During the 32nd, 35th, and 49th sessions of the Commission on the Status of Women as well as the world conferences on women that took place in Copenhagen (1980), Nairobi (1985) and Beijing (1995), the United Nations have called on countries that have already established national mechanisms to further support and strengthen them, while calling on others, who have not yet done so, to establish them. With the enhanced support over the years, national mechanisms were able to reform discriminatory laws and policies, strengthen their collaboration and coordination with civil society organizations, establish other entities such as national committees for women’s rights and gender units within ministries or parliaments, and improve relevant monitoring and evaluation tools.
Persisting challenges and global shifts
There are still many challenges that hinder the performance and impact of these national mechanisms. Weak political will, unclear or unspecified mandate, poor communication between stakeholders, lack of financial and human resources, and the marginalization or de-prioritization of women's issues are a few common examples of such challenges. Moreover, globalization, privatization, climate change, war, and conflict are changing the socio-economic and political landscapes in countries across the world, shifting the needs and required mandates of those national mechanisms.
The Amman Principles Project
In 2020, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung’s Political Feminism project in the MENA region commenced a project in partnership with Solidarity Is Global Institute in Jordan (SIGI-Jo) that aims at developing a set of principles for national mechanisms for gender equality and women’s empowerment in line with the Paris Principles for national human rights institutions. The set of principles are meant to counter the challenges and accommodate the global changes that negatively affect the work of these national mechanisms and to accelerate the progress towards gender equality.
Following research and various consultation meetings with relevant stakeholders, a set of nine principles, titled the “Amman Principle”, were developed. The principles offer ways to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, independence, sustainability, and impact of national mechanism, while also proposing accreditation processes and criteria.
What Comes Next
In 2021, we will open an international dialogue on the importance of the adoption of the Amman Principles as an international instrument that aims to push forward the gender equality agenda. National, regional, and global events will be taking place under this context. We invite you to join this participatory process to further develop the Amman Principles, help raise awareness on their importance, and advocate for their adoption.