On Friday, May 4, the Ministry of European Integration held a workshop on “improving the process and practice of mainstreaming gender in IPA projects”, in which the Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN) presented on “how to better mainstream gender in IPA projects: methodology and practical examples”. The Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) is important because it provides financing from the European Union (EU) to support the government in Kosovo in making progress towards fulfilling the Stabilization and Association Agreement, and thus towards joining the EU.
In accordance with Kosovo’s Law on Gender Equality, all laws, policies and programs should undergo review and reflect a gender perspective. Since IPA programming supports the implementation of existing laws and governmental strategies, it should support addressing needs that already have been identified within existing government strategies. However, some laws and strategies in Kosovo, particularly in relation to specific sectors, are “gender blind”: they have not sufficiently considered the different needs and interests of diverse women and men, girls and boys.
Meanwhile, in 2015, the European Commission and European External Action Service adopted the Gender Action Plan II (GAP II). This document calls upon the EU to ensure that gender is mainstreamed in its external spending. Therefore, the EU Office needs to ensure that gender equality is considered in the programs it funds, particularly if the government has failed to sufficiently consider issues related to gender equality in its strategies. GAP II also calls for the inclusion of women’s civil society organizations (WCSOs) and national gender equality mechanisms (NGEMs), like gender equality officers, in planning IPA programs.
Despite several attempts since 2015 and official instructions from the Prime Minister’s Office requesting involvement of NGEMs in all processes, WCSOs and NGEMs have been little involved in IPA programming, to date. An exception, KWN, as a WCSO, has reviewed and commented on all IPA programs from a gender perspective since IPA 2015, through a contract with the EU Office, and thus has contributed to supporting the inclusion of gender analysis and women’s civil society perspectives in programming. This good practice has been recognized by the EU in Brussels. However, despite requests to participate in programming earlier, KWN has been invited only to review the final IPA programming documents.
“It’s a challenge to include gender late in the programming process,” noted Florim Canolli, Director of the Department of Development Assistance in the Ministry of European Integration.
All relevant actors participating in the workshop agreed that it is problematic to try to include gender analysis and actions towards gender equality after the program has already been designed. Rather, gender analysis needs to be conducted in very beginning of the design phase and then used to inform the actual design of the program.
This workshop convened representatives from ministries, including gender equality officers; the Agency for Gender Equality; the EU Office; and KWN to discuss how the IPA programming process could be improved to better incorporate a gender perspective. Participants identified several ways forward, including to:
- Strengthen political will and enhance understanding among permanent secretaries and other government officials regarding the importance of gender analysis and the involvement of NGEMs in programming, starting this June for IPA 2019-2020;
- Train NGEMs on Project Cycle Management and IPA, so that they can provide more informed contributions to programming;
- Organize training and mentoring for government officials designing IPA programs, regarding gender analysis and gender mainstreaming, given their responsibilities under the Law on Gender Equality;
- Ensure involvement of WCSOs in public consultations for IPA 2019-2020 programming early on, in June; and
- Translate draft IPA documents into Albanian and Serbian languages so that government officials and WCSOs can better understand and contribute to them.