Disrupting Institutional Rules & Organizational Practices for Women's Rights and Gender Equality


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LSE Talk Presentation, January 2014
Disrupting Institutional Rules & Organizational Practices for Women's Rights and Gender Equality

Includes Case Studies with examples of G@W's work in India and South Africa.

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  • Deep Stuctures – the collection of values, history, culture and practices that form the unquestionable, “normal” way of doing work in an organization
  • “Institutions are the rules for achieving social or economic ends” (Kabeer)In other words, they determine, who gets what, and who decides These may be stated or implicitFor example, these rules include values that maintain the gendered division of labor, restrictions on women’s mobility, & the devaluation of reproductive workSo, even if women have greater access to resources and there are equality laws in place, the informal institutional rules often prevent them from accessing those resources or exercising their rightsInstitutional rules are evolving and vary across cultures and communities, but they are embedded in relational hierarchies of gender, class, caste, religion etc. which define identities and distribute power – both materially and symbolically. Formal rules - like policies – are meant to be implemented by formal systems and organizations – such as mechanisms of the state – the judiciary, or by state delivery systems like agricultural extension systems; or by universities, international organizations and civil society organizations. But discriminatory institutional rules operate in these systems and formal organizations They are often below the surface – and they interweave with the culture, hierarchies, and work processes of these formal systems and organizations This means that these institutional rules operating through formal organizations constrain the ability of these organizations and systems to challenge gender-biased institutional norms. They hinder these systems and organizations’ ability to facilitate gender equal outcomes There is a good deal of theoretical and empirical work on the gendered nature of organizations – Acker, Kabeer, Goetz, New Institutionalism
  • Key questions related to gender equality within organizations: what is the level of women and men’s consciousness within the organization? Is there access to resources available to provide on these issues? What are the policies in the organization, and are they resourced or staffed? What are the key features of organizational culture and power structures? How are values and belief systems expressed? What is the type of leadership? By what mechanisms is accountability to women clients ensured? Does the organization have the mechanisms and capacities required for dialogue and conflict resolution?
  • There is a strong recognition of the gender biases in organizations and many strategies have been put forward to address them("Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in any area and at all levels. It is a strategy for making the concerns and experiences of women as well as of men an integral part of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres, so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal of mainstreaming is to achieve gender equality.“ (ECOSOC, July 1997)Gains: women elected to local and national governance bodies; entering public institutions; girls’ access to primary education has improved sharply; women are entering the labor force in increasing numbersFailures: e.g. economic orthodoxy promoting unmanaged, export-led growth through competitive market capitalism, free trade, and fiscal austerity — including the drastic reduction of government social spending — has hurt poor women most (Elson 2005)
  • Norms around gender stem from a society’s ideals values of what it means to be a woman or a man. They include everything from cultural beliefs to expected behaviors and practices.Failure to conform to these dictates can trigger strong social sanctions, such as ridiculing men for being emotional or scorning women who dress inappropriately. Gender norms have been remarkably resistant to change; Why have they not changed? Partly because they are widely held and practiced in daily life; they often represent the interests of power holders, and because they instill unconscious learned biases about gender differences that make it easier to conform to long-standing norms than to change to new onesHow are these norms manifest? DiagramWhat? - Deeply held beliefs and values or informal rules are the hardest to change.How? Changing the formal rules regarding those manifestations (despite considerable opposition) forcing new behaviors which over time can become a norm which people will act on?Chipping away at beliefs and behaviors that manifest discriminatory norms and create legitimacy for new behaviors?Carrying out the slow, hard, work of building relationships of trust that then enable reflection and action on discriminatory norms and practices?
  • At Gender at Work we look at social change in a way that links organizational change, institutional change and gender equality. This approach is based on an analysis of the role of social institutions – both formal and informal – in maintaining and reproducing women's unequal position in society. We believe that to have a significant impact on gender inequity, we must change informal rules and norms. From the point of view of an organization intervening to change gender-biased institutions, change must happen in two places - outside the organization and within. This framework is not in itself a theory of change – it’s a framework to help a group of people think through how change might take place, and use that as a starting place for learning. Bringing about change in gender equality means addressing changes in four inter-related domains. Vertically, the framework goes from the individual at the top to the ‘system’ as a whole at the bottom. ‘Institutional’ or systemic change is sometimes described as ‘the rules of the game’. Organizations are important ‘holders’ of resources and practices between the individual and the system – they constitute the system, and individuals are part of several or many formal and informal organizations. Horizontally, on the right is what is tangible and measurable – who goes to school, who gets a loan, who has freedom of movement, whom laws and policies protect. The left hand side is invisible –but very important. At the top is consciousness (knowledge, skills, political consciousness and commitment to change toward equality). At the bottom is culture/values/ informal rulesThe G@W framework has proven to be a powerful tool for exploring assumptions about how change occurs – where to start, what impact change in one quadrant could have for change in another quadrant, and for mapping out potential complementary relations with other actors.
  • Gender Action learning Principles : We involved teams of women and men from each of the 4 local organizations to participate in an 18-month program with their peers to analyze and develop solutions to a real problem – e.g how to involve more Dalit women in their capacity building programs, how to get job cards for more Dalit women etc.Participants learned from each other as they worked on a real problem and men and women learned how to ask questions that brought unstated assumptions to the surfaceParticipants become accountable to each other for their decisions are expected to implement them.Women learned about their own strength as they worked on a problem together3. G@W introduced analytical and action planning tools; supported organizations in developing change plans & implementing themG@W introduced concepts & processes for working with personal and organizational powerG@W helped the organizations reflect on changes achieved; how and whyWriting workshops deepened analysis and reflection & built a sense of personal power
  • access to bank accounts in Dalit women’s names participation in the planning processWork site facilities in 40% of Project villagesDays of Work by Dalit women Involvement of Panchayat raj leaders to access NREGA for Dalit women job cards
  • Context: Wage- less than both domestic workers and mineworkers; appalling living and working conditionsFarm workers often depend on farm owners for multiple benefits—not just their jobs, but also their homes, their transport, and sometimes even their children’s education.Farming is still perceived as predominantly ‘men’s work’, with women’s labor considered supplementary (casual and seasonal labor) – paid less, greater insecurityDop– payment in wine - levels of alcohol abuse, fetal alcohol syndrome and domestic violence are high3 and 11 percent of farm workers are unionized, compared to 30 percent in the formal sector as a whole and over 75 percent for mineworkersSikhula Sonke – organizes around social and labor concernsadvocates for decent work & decent living conditionsRaises awareness on social rights, fair trade, domestic abuse, alcohol addiction, health and food safetyWorking to create new norms of human rights and dignity – challenge owners, challenge members; Challenging norms – especially related to historically constructed dynamics of alcoholism, violence against women and deeply entrenched attitudes of paternalism and victimhood
  • Theory of changeSikhula Sonke believed that you have to start with consciousness. Their assumption was that firstly you have to believe that it is possible for a woman to be a leader. You need the awareness, and consciousness that women can be leaders. Women also need skills to be good leaders and women need access to leadership positions. Have to make leadership positions available. This access changes the norm, because if we don’t make the space conducive to women’s leadership, women would drop out. SS believed that with consciousness, women will use positions of leadership more carefullyThrough training and education both women and men can change the way they think about traditional cultural norms of exclusion. Sikhula Sonke’s strategy was therefore a combination of access to positions; training and empowerment processes which are all supported by promoting women's leadership as a core organizational principle in their constitution.
  • G@W introduced: mind-body-spirit practices & creative forms of expression to free up energy and achieve new understandings & actionsanalytical and action planning tools; supported organizations in developing change plans & implementing themconcepts & processes for working with personal and organizational power
  • Personal Change: “We are stronger; “I am stronger and I can fight my own battles, I know my rights and I respect other people’s rights” (Gertruida); “What has changed? Power. You need to recognize that other people have the right to speak and to be heard. Union President shared talks of how she grew stronger and more confident; how her relationship to power changed and how this in turn impacted on how she felt she needed to lead. She was better able to receive criticism and be vulnerable. One change team member described how giving up alcohol was one of the most significant changes in her own life, and how this has also impacted significantly on her role in the unionFarmworkers’ daily lives were improving and they were gaining access to new resourcesworkers were successfully fighting for increases or getting their jobs back after being dismissed. At farm level, in various districts, workers had won access to toilets in the vineyards and in some areas electricity. On one farm, workers won the right for a ramp – so that a wheel chair could go up into the house.Union cultureLeaders at the branch level were less dependent on organizers, demonstrating an increase in knowledge, greater confidence and increased abilities to solve their own problems
  • Their stories were published in Writing from the Inside: Stories of Hope and Change (2010) and Transforming Power: A Knotted Rope (2012).Writing enabled deeper reflection of the changes
  • Women’s roles: They work on their own plots and those of others; they work as unpaid or paid workers, employers and employees and as wage-laborers in both on-and off-farm enterprisesWomen face discrimination in access to productive resources such as land and services such as extension; they face wage discrimination in rural labor markets; they are also more likely to be in part-time, seasonal and/or low-paying jobs when engaged in wage employment. Evidence shows that these factors not only affect their welfare and that of their families, but also impose a high cost on the economy.
  • Lots of reasons: Political intransigence, patriarchal values that oppose challenges to male power and that devalue women’s roles have played a large part in this neglectexpertise Lack of: results orientation;consistent leadership and follow-up by senior management and executive boards; staff and management incentives and accountability through performance management systemsa clear understanding of how best to address gender inequalityadequate investment in gender equality expertise in operationsattention to gender balance in staffing; an inclusive organizational culture’ (IFAD, 2010). Gender is invisible – paying attn. to strengthening value chains in agr – crops and gender division of labor considered not important. Selective attention: Paying attention to gender – if I deal with forestry – I don’t deal with social issues etc.. If I deal with gender equality, economic sustainability or environmental impact may not be consideredFinding where and how to strengthen and change work practice requires in-depth knowledge of how things are currently organized – it cannot be done by generalized corporate memos from above. It’s becoming clear that Organizations that have a strong culture of managing for results find it easier to include gender equality among the dimensions they are managing than more bureaucratic organizations
  • Evaluations of gender mainstreaming have found that the weakness on gender mainstreaming reflects other organizational weaknesses. If there is a weak interest in results, it will be difficult to identify results on gender equality – only activities. If there is laissez-faire management, policies will only be implemented by the activists. If the agency works mainly on a charity model, rather than a rights-based or participatory development model, their efforts in mainstreaming gender equality will reflect that bias. If the Finance Department is weak, no one will know or care what the level of investment in gender equality is, and so on. This new gender policy shift from an input focus to a results focusAccountability for those outcomes along with member countriesWe then identified what FAO at different levels of management and in different capacity areas is accountable for - and the quality, efficiency andtimeliness of its contribution at the output level; for monitoring the intermediate outcomes in terms of utility and effectiveness; and for monitoring, with its partners, progress towards the achievement of itsgender equality goal and objectives.
  • How do we assess whether what we have done has actually effected transformation? What prism will accurately reflect whether these ‘incremental modifications of the underlying structures of a social system and its mechanisms of social reproduction can cumulatively transform the system’ (Erik Olin Wright)
  • Disrupting Institutional Rules & Organizational Practices for Women's Rights and Gender Equality

    1. 1. Aruna Rao Seminar Presentation, London School of Economics January 24, 2014
    2. 2.  Gender at Work is a global collaborative of individuals committed to strengthening organizations to build cultures of equality and social justice, especially gender equality  In 1999,we wrote Gender at Work: Organizational Change for Equality, a book that laid the seeds for this international collaborative  Focus on how to uncover and challenge “Deep Structures” of inequality  We provide capacity building and consulting services to help organizations uncover what holds gender inequality in place and how to transform discriminatory structures, values and ways of working  www.genderatwork.org
    3. 3. Institutions  Institutions are the rules for achieving social or economic ends (Kabeer)  They determine, who gets what, and who decides  They have formal and informal dimensions  Some institutions have diffuse patterns of norms and behavior about which there is social consensus – such as kinship systems; some have an organizational form Organizations  Organizations are sites where institutional rules play out  They are often below the surface – and they interweave with the culture, hierarchies, and work processes of these formal systems and organizations  They constrain the ability of these organizations and systems to challenge gender-biased institutional norms.  They hinder these systems and organizations‟ ability to facilitate gender equal outcomes
    4. 4. What‟s underneath the surface?  Power to make decisions, set priorities, allocate resources  Accountability systems  Cultural norms and behaviors  Defining what is work; what is of value
    5. 5.  Male bias in development and development institutions meant conscious and determined efforts needed to „get development institutions rights for women‟ (Goetz)  Gender Mainstreaming was a strategy that recognized this bias and tried to put forward a radical approach to address it  20 years post-Beijing – focus on addressing the „implementation gap‟  Gender policies, gender infrastructure, women‟s programs, using sex- differentiated data to design development programs, looking at differentiated impacts  Social movements and mobilizing women‟s voices  Many gains & many failures
    6. 6. Low rates of girls secondary school retention Biases against full citizenship rights, owning property, and low economic participation Women excluded from leadership & decision making Subsistence farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa are primarily women but they own about 1% of land High levels of maternal mortality (Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia) Control of women and girls sexuality; FGM Violence against women and girls
    7. 7. Theory  MNREGA ensures 100 days‟ paid employment to each rural household per year Reality  Poor Dalit women not aware of the Act and its provisions  No information on how to claim  33% reservation for women at equal wage between men and women entitlements  Low women‟s participation (UP: 21% women force in MNREGA)  Provision that the applicant can claim for unemployment allowance  Safe worksite facilities such as providing drinking water, shade, childcare and healthcare to workers  Work is manual work which strengthen gender stereotypes; semi-skilled jobs only given to men  No facilities provided at worksite  No social accountability to marginalized populations
    8. 8.  Dalit Women have Become Supervisors
    9. 9. Individual Access to Resources & Opportunities Consciousness & Capabilities Informal Formal Cultural Norms &Values Systemic Formal Rules, Policies & Accountability Mechanisms
    10. 10.  30% increase in work days on baseline data  One model worksite developed with all facilities  50 Dalit women trained and working as supervisors on worksites  Strengthened women‟s right to food and livelihood security which they got to some extent as a result of their own advocacy and lobbying  Capacities of staff members of partner organizations built through regular inputs to ensure increase in knowledge and skills for effective implementation of the project  Change in individual and collective consciousness from the community level to the government machinery  MNREGA authorities helped to achieve their target of minimum 60% disbursement of funds every 6 months  MNREGA had reserved 50% of all supervisor posts for women across all Indian states  Successfully challenging the gender and caste stereotyping
    11. 11.  Western Cape Province, the area of South Africa with the biggest concentration of farm workers  The minimum wage for farmworkers is one of the lowest in South Africa‟s formal employment sector  Distinct gender division of labor  “Dop system”  Agricultural workers very difficult to organize  Sikhula Sonke – women-led trade union registered in 2004, Western Cape  Membership –, 5000 women from >120 farms  Committed to democratic principles -being member controlled; the empowerment of all; the unity of agricultural workers and dwellers; community involvement; and collective leadership.  Part of its existence - to challenge gender inequality
    12. 12.  Ingrained gender and patriarchal norms in women means that they don't believe they can hold leadership positions; they know only a culture of power imbalance and prejudice.  Within this context, SS tired to encourage women's democratic leadership and create an inclusive organizational culture that is member-driven;  Enable women to learn how to make decisions, how to deal with conflict, how to respect each other.  Problems with alcoholism  Problems with sustaining a culture that supports nondiscrimination against women, including ethical sexual conduct between employees and members  Problems with negotiating power and managing tensions between staff and officials
    13. 13. Questions:  How to create a truly member controlled organization and more gender equal norms?  How do you build women‟s leadership at the branch/farm level?  How do you deepen democratic practices to ensure that the union is member driven?  How do you grapple with the meaning of everyday practices of power in relation to accountability issues, attitudes, access to resources and sharing power/responsibilities? Challenges:  Lack of self-esteem and confidence in members to hold leadership to account  Building collective leadership takes time
    14. 14. Individual Consciousness & Capabilities Access to Resources & Opportunities Informal Formal Cultural Norms &Values Systemic Formal Rules, Policies & Accountability Mechanisms
    15. 15.  Invited Sikula Sonke together with 3 organizations to participate in 18 month action learning program with peers  3-4 members from each organization formed the „change team‟  Organizations developed their own change objectives  G@W helped the organizations reflect on changes achieved; how and why  G@W organized writing workshops which allowed participants to deepen their analysis and reflect on & built a sense of personal power
    16. 16.  Personal Level: e.g. understanding how personal change is fundamentally necessary for farm worker women to become powerful union leaders; how important it was for leaders to practice what they preach.  Improvements in their lives  Relationship between farmers and workers was improving  Union membership was growing; changes in union culture  Domestic violence was decreasing  broader issues of discrimination such as xenophobia, homophobia, and HIV were being tackled
    17. 17.  FAO estimates that worldwide women constitute 43 per cent of the agricultural labor force (FAO, 2011) and produce between 60-80 per cent of the world‟s food crops.  Women‟s roles are varied  Everywhere in the world, women face constraints that limit their capacity to contribute to agricultural production  Decline in aid and public expenditure to agriculture in the past two decades  Persistent failure of agricultural policies, programs and services in addressing women farmers‟ needs and interests.
    18. 18.  Lots of Reasons – e.g Political opposition; gender is „invisible‟ because it is so deeply subconscious; oriented towards a technocratic delivery model of goods and extension services; Lack of accountability  Lots of more prosaic reasons – e.g. how are staff required to pay attention to gender dimensions in their work?  Pay attention to :what kinds of changes are required in day-to-work? How can those changes be made observable, ambitious but realistic, and rewarded? Is it possible to see whether the changes lead to progress on the policy goals? How will that be measured?
    19. 19. The goal of FAO‟s gender equality policy is to achieve equality between women and men in sustainable agricultural production and rural development for the elimination of hunger and poverty. Objectives: 1. Women participate equally with men as decision-makers in rural institutions and in shaping laws, policies and programmes. 2. Women and men have equal access to and control over decent employment and income, land and other productive resources. 3. Women and men have equal access to goods and services for agricultural development, and to markets. 4. Women‟s work burden is reduced by 20 percent through improved technologies, services and infrastructure. 5. The share of total agricultural aid committed to projects related to women and gender equality is increased to 30 percent
    20. 20.  Is development working for women or are women working for development?  How much can development organizations do to make positive change for women? Are „femocrats‟ changing institutions?  What isn‟t changing? – the sticky bits?  Is the growing backlash against women‟s rights a sign of our success?  What are women‟s visions? How are women organizing to achieve their visions?  What is the role of social movements in making change happen?  How do we assess our strategies for ending discrimination and furthering women‟s rights, and how do we measure the results of our struggles?  How do we judge if what we do now has transformatory potential for the future?
    21. 21. To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13552074.2012.731741