Content Editor

The Gender Unit

 

gender_unitban.jpg
 


1.         Background

 

The Gender Unit, as the National Gender Machinery, is ​established as the lead agency for the oversight, coordination, monitoring and evaluation of gender mainstreaming of policies, strategies and programmes at national level.

 

The overarching principle of the Gender Unit is to adopt a Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) that entails a process of non-discrimination, equal participation, inclusion, accountability and the rule of law, which remains the foundation of social justice.

 

2.         Objectives:

The Gender Unit has, as main objectives to work towards the attainment of gender equality and women's empowerment. This process entails a dual approach, namely:

  1. Oversee and coordinate the implementation of gender mainstreaming strategies in all Ministries' policies and programmes; and
  2. Implement policies/programmes to empower women socially, economically and politically, thereby, addressing “de facto" inequality and bridging all outstanding gender gaps.

 

3.         Main Programmes

A. Policy Level

(i)         Gender in Development and Mainstreaming

The Gender Unit is called upon to harmonise policies with international and regional human rights Instruments related to women's empowerment and gender equality, as well as ensure follow up and provide regular reports, thereon. These instruments include, inter alia, the following:

​(a)    International Instruments:

  • The Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW; 1984).  (Link to Document)
  • The Beijing Platform for Action of 1995 (BFPA; 1995). 
  • The Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda inclusive of a stand-alone Goal 5: “Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls".  (Link to Document​)

     

(b)   Regional Instruments

      • ​​African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (1986).
  • The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Gender Policy (2002). 
  • Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights of Women in Africa (2003). 
  • The African Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality (2004). 
  • The African Union Gender Policy (2009). 
  • SADC Protocol on Gender and Development (2016). 

 

Other Link:

Compendium of International and Regional Instruments for the promotion of gender equality (2014).

(ii)        National Mechanism for Gender Mainstreaming

(a)    National Gender Policy Framework (2008)

In a bid to ensure that both men and women's strategic needs, interests and concerns are taken into account whilst formulating/implementing/monitoring policies and programmes, Government adopted the National Gender Policy Framework (NGPF) in 2008. (link to document).

 

The NGPF serves as a generic document that provides guidelines to the public and private sectors, the NGOs, Media and stakeholders on the need to mainstream gender in their sectoral policies. All Ministries have formulated their sectoral gender policy statements to ensure that a gender perspective permeates within their respective sectors.

 

A new National Gender Policy for 2020-2030, which is aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals and responsive to the vision of the Government is underway.

 

(b)   National Steering Committee

 
A National Steering Committee on Gender Mainstreaming (NSCGM) was set up in June 2010 following a Cabinet decision, with a view to monitor the implementation of the National Gender Policy Framework in all sectoral Ministries. This committee provides a platform for representatives of Ministries, i.e the Gender Focal Points to give feedback on the implementation of their sectoral gender policies; as well as learn and share best practices on gender issues.  

 

The NSCGM also enable Gender Focal Points to be apprised of emerging gender issues at international and regional levels, as well as follow-up to the implementation of CEDAW recommendations; review report on the Beijing Platform for Action; follow up on the implementation of the set targets of the Sustainable Development Goals; and reporting on the Maputo Protocol.

 

(c)    Gender Cells

In the same vein, Cabinet approved the setting up of Gender Cells in July 2010 in line Ministries to institutionalise a structure that is sustainable over time whilst ensuring that the concept of gender permeates in all policies and performances of Government. The aim of this initiative is to have senior officers of various Units/ Departments within Ministries to attend to gender equality issues, 'in lieu of' having only one(1) officer to deal with gender issues.


(iii)       Implementation of the Gender Responsive Budgeting Initiative

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Welfare advocated for the introduction of the Gender Responsive Budgeting Initiative (GRBI).  Subsequently, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development has, in the budgetary measures for financial 2016-2017, allocated Rs 200, 000 on a pilot basis to five (5) Ministries for the implementation of gender sensitive initiatives. 

These Ministries are namely, Health and Quality of Life; Youth and Sports; Civil Service and Administrative Reforms; Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research; to the Environment and Sustainable Development Division of the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity, and Environment and Sustainable Development and they have implemented specific projects to address gender gaps within their respective sectors.

In light of the positive feedback received, the Ministry of Gender Equality sustained its advocacy with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the latter has introduced in the budget 2017/2018- one “Vote Item:  Gender Mainstreaming in Government's Programmes/Policies" in all Ministries budgetary allocations, whereby funds to the tune of US$5600 have been allotted.

The Ministry of Gender Equality has, subsequently, worked closely with a number of Ministries by providing them with entry points regarding the implementation of specific projects and activities.

 

(iv) Legal Framework

(a)    Gender Equality Bill

A Gender Equality Bill is presently under preparation which aims to eliminate gender-based discrimination in the Republic of Mauritius. And for this to be effective, it requires good governance through accountability mechanism to realise gender justice. The formal process, through the law is aimed at achieving substantive equality outcomes.

 

This is in fulfilment of the Mauritius international and regional obligations through the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the African Maputo Protocol. It makes distinction between sex and gender discrimination.


(b)   National Women's Council Act (2016)

(c)    National Women Entrepreneur Council Act


B. Implementation Level

(i)         Women Empowerment Centres: A place for every women to come; network and get empowered.

The Gender Unit also operates through its decentralized network of Women Centres, which were revamped into Women Empowerment Centres in 2016, as a matter of priority and re-oriented its activities and projects so that these contribute effectively towards women's empowerment.

 

There are 14 Women Empowerment Centres (Click here for link) across the island which provide an appropriate and exclusive environment, relevant to the needs of our women folk, where they can come together to gain confidence; develop skills; participate in training; get support; organize group meetings, activities and access other services. The ultimate goal is to offer services that empower women to be “at par" with men. 

 

Moreover, since last year, the Gender Unit has witnessed a paradigm shift in service delivery whereby programmes and activities are being extended to other target groups including women and girls in deprived regions, reaching out to students in secondary schools as well as implementation of activities for the elderly.

 

  • Activities at the level of Women Empowerment Centres comprise, mainly the following:

 

Courses dispensed by the National Women's Council 

Courses dispensed by Home Economics Unit 

Implementation of Projects/Courses by the Gender Unit 

Awareness campaigns on gender and other thematics

 

(ii) Social Empowerment

 

In line with the Sustainable Development Goal 5 to ''Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls'', the Gender Unit is implementing the following:


(a)    3 E's Project- Empowerment through Education and Entertainment

Since November 2017, the Gender Unit has been implementing this project which targets girls and young women (aged between 13 – 29 years) in deprived regions.  The aim is to empower the participants on various pertinent issues related to their well-being and livelihoods.

The topics/activities comprised, inter alia: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights ; Personal Development; Values; Crime Prevention; Road Safety; Drug and Substance Abuse;  Teen Depression and Leisure activities. These are facilitated by Family Welfare and Protection Officers of the Gender Unit and Resource Persons from other institutions.   So far, 600 girls and young women have benefitted from the project.


(b)   Goal Programme

The Goal programme, an initiative of the Standard Chartered Bank was launched by the Gender Unit and the institution on 24 July 2017 for implementation in Women Empowerment Centres. The objective is to empower girls aged 13 to 18 years old, who are mostly school drops or still attending school through the modules of the Programme that include, inter alia, Be yourself; Be Healthy; Be Empowered and Be Money Savvy so that the can make informed life choices for a period of 9 weeks. The Programme is being facilitated by officers of the Gender Unit.  This programme has, so far, reached out to some 700 beneficiaries.

(c)    Addressing intersectionality- Elderly Women

Outdoor and indoor activities are regularly been organised for the elderly and lonely women.

​(iii)              Capacity building programmes on Gender related issues

In a bid to ensure that the concept of gender is well understood by all stakeholders and the public at large, the Gender Unit has consolidated its capacity building programmes, sas well as its awareness campaigns; using innovative tools such as snake and ladders; picture chit chat; story book: 'Beyond pink and blue'; Gender Equality Domino; and short video clips and targeting various audiences namely:

            • ​students from secondary schools;
        • female councilors at Municipal and District Councils level;
        • police and prisons officers;
        • nursing officers;
        • youth ambassadors;
        • members of the committees operating at the level of Social Welfare Centres and Community Centres;
        • new recruits in the public sector and other public officers.

 

(iv)              Awareness campaigns

The Gender Unit organises awareness raising campaigns in Women Empowerment Centres, Community Centres and Social Welfare Centres with different target audience on several thematic which include inter-alia the 'gender concept', 'women rights as human rights' 'women and health', 'women and poverty' and 'women and environment', amongst others to enable them to keep abreast of pertinent information that will improve their livelihoods.

(v)                Economic Empowerment

The Ministry, through the Gender Unit and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Secretariat hosted the “IORA Workshop to Strengthen Women's Economic Empowerment in the Indian Ocean – Preparations for the Ministerial Conference and Working Group,"  on 3 – 4 May 2018 at the Pearle Beach Hotel, Flic-en-Flac as well as the First IORA Ministerial Conference on 'Women Economic Empowerment: A Pre-requisite for Sustainable Development on 28 – 29 August 2018 at the Ravenala Attitude, Balaclava.

An IORA Working Group on Women's Economic Empowerment was launched at the Conference, whereby Mauritius was elected as chair for 2018 -2019 and re-convened in the same position for 2019 – 2020. The Working Group is implementing an IORA Work Plan on Women Economic Empowerment which aims at sharing experiences and provide opportunities to women of the IORA community for their economic empowerment.

(vi)              Political Empowerment

The Gender Unit has been, over the last few years, sustained its capacity building programmes/ awareness sessions on the need for an increase participation of women in decision making positions. To that end, the Gender Unit has recourse to relevant Resource Persons to facilitate training/ awareness sessions. The Gender Unit is presently collaborating with the UNDP, in conducting a Programme entitled 'L.E.A.D': 'Leadership, Empowerment, Advocacy and Development' which aims at equipping women with the relevant leadership skills.​