Women's Rights are Human Rights

Giving women greater self-determination, the same opportunities and an equal share of power

Giving women greater self-determination, the same opportunities and an equal share of power

Human rights are the foundation for a life lived with dignity and freedom – whether for a man or a woman. Gender equality and the realisation of the rights of women and girls around the world are key factors of sustainable development. Consequently, they constitute one of the core values we base our work on. 

The topic of gender equality, with a particular focus on the promotion of women, is nothing new to GIZ and has been deeply entrenched in the company since the 1990s. We adopted our first corporate gender strategy in 2001.

As part of this company-wide GIZ gender strategy, a Gender Competition has been held at company level every two years since 2008. This contest rewards approaches that promote gender equality in GIZ-backed projects in its cooperation countries. The competition is open to all GIZ colleagues from all organisational units, either inside or outside Germany. This explicitly includes applications from development workers.

In Indonesia, ASEAN and Timor-Leste as well, gender mainstreaming – the integration of the gender approach in all priority areas – also constitutes an important crosscutting issue for GIZ’s portfolio. 

Since 2013, development workers have been consistently involved in supporting gender mainstreaming and gender advisory services, making sure that the topic is universally and realistically assessed and strategically integrated in all project proposals, as well as adequately addressed during implementation. To this end, the country director there gave them the time and financial resources they required. Having a dedicated, full-time gender contact person at the national level was also one of the decisive success factors.

This flexibility made it possible to look for openings for cooperation with civil society and to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Indonesia through multi-actor partnerships.

As early as 2013, this resulted in the formation of a gender working group (GWG) which has been meeting on a monthly basis since November 2016, thereby contributing significantly to the integration of gender as a crosscutting issue in the technical cooperation portfolio. The GWG is managed by the development workers’ contact person for gender issues. 

One particular success of the GWG was the technical support it provided for the Girls Innovation Camp (keyword: empowering girls) as part of the development cooperation programme, Sustainable Economic Development through Technical and Vocational Education and Training (SED-TVET). This is now considered best practice and a factsheet on the subject has been issued in the context of the #skills4girls Initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

However, the GWG’s most important initiatives are the Communicating Gender Award as well as the events it holds during the GIZ Gender Week (e.g. Be bold for change. Sustainable Development Goals: Ensuring no one is left behind on 9 March 2017, or jointly with UN Women on 14 March 2018: Get involved & stay engaged: Urban activism and more opportunities for Women’s Empowerment).

These events have created platforms that do not only provide space for high-quality exchanges on the subject of gender, but that have also opened the way for exceptional networking with other organisations. Moreover, chances for contributing actively to publications have also arisen. The development workers played an important part in producing the German development cooperation contributions to the EU-Indonesia Blue Book 2017.

Together with the GWG and civil society, development workers also established and carried out training for employees. In 2017, this resulted in the launch of an extensive training campaign under the slogan, ‘Fit for Gender Mainstreaming’.

All activities described here contributed to a development worker’s entry in this year’s GIZ Gender Competition with winning first prize in the category ‘Gender Mainstreaming in the Company’. However, not only one development worker had successfully entered. Another contribution was submitted for the category ‘GG-1’: ‘Indonesia: Gender Issues are not a problem for us‘. It is therefore to be noticed that two of the five competition entries in Indonesia were made by development workers.  

This clearly shows that development workers’ acting at the interface between management and implementation can significantly contribute to the successful and sustainable implementation of GIZ's gender strategy. Moreover, they can play a significant part in achieving the 2030 Agenda and in identifying multifactor partnerships. 

This becomes particularly evident, for instance, with respect to the gender-sensitive management of the GIZ Gender Strategy. By using gender-oriented processes (offer design, implementation and reporting), fostering gender skills among the employees, and committing to gender-sensitive HR management both in the projects and at management level, the gender objectives formulated in project offers are to be achieved more effectively.

And here lies the strength of development workers. With their expertise in the field of gender, their role as moderators and advisors at the interface between the officers responsible for projects and the partner organisations, and not forgetting their outside perspective, development workers deliver important stimuli leading to the creation of a win-win situation for all involved, at both the micro and meso levels. Moreover, their ties to the country office ensure that other projects around the country also benefit. Finally, with an extensive capacity development approach for the partner organisations and GIZ alike, covering all aspects of the crosscutting topic, the framework of results is strengthened.

Alexander Ihrcke