Since gender mainstreaming has been officially adopted as a strategy in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the Paris Climate Agreement, the term has become ubiquitous. Though various organisations and agencies now espouse their commitment to gender equality and to mainstreaming gender in their policies and programs, the actual integration of gender perspectives and analyses within sustainability project programs and activities remains a challenge.

When it comes to development programs and advocacy efforts, men and women frequently have different priorities, restrictions and preferences; furthermore, they can both contribute and be impacted differently. Gender analysis should therefore always be the starting point for projects prior to commencement. Nevertheless, such analyses are frequently found to be lacking, making it difficult to include gender in implementation and the measurement of impacts.

With this in mind, ATSEA-2 recently conducted several gender assessments prior to project commencement, in a bid to unpack persisting inequalities in coastal communities and to identify participative solutions for reducing inequalities in reproductive, productive and social roles of men and women in project sites. To do this, we needed to ensure the capacity of decision- and policy makers is adequate to deliver such programs.

In June 2022, as part of efforts to inform communities on the essentials of mainstreaming gender within the development programs, the ATSEA-2 Project supported the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) and the Government of Rote Ndao Regency in holding a strategic planning workshop on gender mainstreaming.

A participatory gender action plan has since been developed with the local government in Rote Ndao and, as the first action, a series of workshops has been facilitated by ATSEA-2. These activities were joined by the relevant government institutions that are involved in gender mainstreaming, along with several local CSOs from Rote Ndao and Kupang province. During the workshops, participants discussed the various challenges and barriers they face within their organisation and in the external environment related to gender mainstreaming. They also worked on exercises to conduct simple analyses using gender analysis tools (Gender Analysis Pathway and Value Chain Analysis) to map gender potential and action plans.

This activity resulted in stronger commitments by local stakeholders, as evidenced by the development of local regulations on gender mainstreaming in the district of Rote Ndao integration of Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting (PPRG) within planning documents and advocacy for improved budgets and policies to strengthen and establish gender focal points and gender working groups in the province.

Since Rote Ndao is relatively new to implementing gender mainstreaming strategy within the development context, local government will benefit from other points of view from neighbouring regions, especially with regards to how programs can be formulated to incorporate these considerations. To that end, Gunung Kidul has been chosen, because it features similar characteristics to the Rote Ndao context, where – despite their shared potential marine and fisheries, as well as abundant tourism resources – the economic downturn and poverty continue to impact the daily lives of inhabitants.

The resultant commitments to improve women’s standards of living in coastal communities and to implement gender action plans were manifested in a three-day workshop on gender mainstreaming advocacy, organised by the local government budgeting team (TAPD) in the third week of July 2022. The Deputy Regent of Rote Ndao, Stefanus M. Saek expressed his appreciation for ATSEA-2 support and noted that women are key players who must also contribute to global development, because there are aspects of women involvement that must be taken into consideration to ensure that there is excellent leverage for the growth and sustainability of biological ecosystems in our region, which will ultimately benefit the local economy.

The workshop was an opportunity to learn from a keynote speaker from Bappeda in Gunung Kidul Regency, Ajie Saksono. He shared his experience of implementing gender mainstreaming strategy to underpin best practices, along with some novel approaches to accelerating gender mainstreaming advocacy. This approach has garnered recognition from the Ministry of Women and Child Protection (MOWECP), through the Anugerah Parahita Ekapraya (APE) awards.

Following completion of the training, the improved technical skills of participants will contribute to the strengthening of gender perspectives within their respective organisation bodies. Furthermore, participants will be able to utilise the practical knowledge on considering gender in government planning and budgeting in Rote Ndao Regency.

Going forward, ATSEA-2 plans to support the TAPD of Rote Ndao Regency with a visit to the Gunung Kidul Regency of Yogyakarta Province, so they can learn about the role of government institutions and CSOs, particularly PPRG drivers in regional PUG advocacy. Ultimately, this will lead to more effective policies and initiatives that can support and promote the accomplishments of gender-responsive development goals.

By Laeli Sukmahayani