IIED Finds Gender-related “Blind Spot” in 2018 VNRs
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The IIED briefing note on 'Equity-Focused, Gender-Responsive Evidence: a Blind Spot in VNR Reporting,’ finds that monitoring progress is strongly reflected in the VNRs, but evaluation receives almost no attention.

The note indicates that many VNRs reported on the status of women and what they are doing to meet SDG 5 (Gender equality), although a few only addressed SDG5’s full set of targets and indicators.

February 2019: Integrating equity-focused and gender-responsive evidence is a “blind spot” in VNR reporting, although countries consider gender equality and equity to be essential for achieving the SDGs, according to a briefing note issued by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). The note assesses the consideration of gender issues in the 46 Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) presented during the 2018 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

The HLPF meets each July under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), with a substantial part of the programme devoted to hearing and discussing VNRs, a process that provides an opportunity for States to present their experiences in implementing the 2030 Agenda in their countries.

Although monitoring progress is strongly reflected in the VNRs, evaluation receives almost no attention.

The note titled, ‘Equity-Focused, Gender-Responsive Evidence: a Blind Spot in VNR Reporting,’ examines the extent to which the 46 VNRs presented in 2018 incorporate equity-focused and gender-responsive evaluative evidence. It also examines whether they report on how countries are integrating gender equality and equity into national policies and systems. The authors – Silke Hofer-Olusanmokun, Tarisirai Zengeni, Florencia Tateossian, Svetlana Negroustoueva, Claudia Olavarría Manriquez and Kassem El- Saddik – find that, as similarly determined through IIED assessments published in 2017 and 2018, monitoring progress is strongly reflected in the VNRs, but evaluation receives almost no attention. They also report limited access to, and use of, disaggregated and gender-sensitive data.

On gender equity and equality, the note reports that: all the 2018 VNRs used gender-specific language; most reflected gender equality as a priority; and several countries established institutional structures, including institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women to lead on integrating gender equity and equality into national plans and policies, among other tasks.

The note indicates that many VNRs reported on the status of women and what they are doing to meet SDG 5 (gender equality), although a few only addressed the full set of targets and indicators under the Goal. Per the note, several countries have established systems to track and make public budget allocations for gender equality and women’s empowerment, including Albania, which is mainstreaming gender in its medium-term budget programme, and Mexico which has earmarked a budget to strengthen follow-up systems for gender equality and women’s entrepreneurship programmes. The document states that most of the 2018 VNRs highlighted violence against women and girls as a major issue in their respective countries, but only a few reported on progress towards addressing it.

The note also outlines examples of countries that reported policies and measures to improve the lives of women from marginalized groups, such as Egypt which is targeting women in rural areas, Hungary and Albania which are strengthening employment opportunities for women from ethnic cultural minorities, and Bahrain which is providing housing for divorced, abandoned and widowed women.

On gender mainstreaming, the note reports that several of the 46 VNRs included evidence of promoting and achieving gender equity and equality in planned policy action. It mentions that Namibia has adopted a national gender mainstreaming programme and gender-responsive budget guidelines, while Bhutan has developed a cross-sectoral handbook on indicators for improved gender mainstreaming.

Based on these results, the note recommends that the international evaluation community provide the necessary resources and expertise to promote equity-focused and gender-responsive evaluation, and to build national evaluation capacity in countries. It also calls on national and international statistical commissions and evaluation communities to work together to enable strong links between data, analysis and evaluation for advancing gender equality and equity.

Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in September 2015, 102 countries have presented their VNRs at the HLPF, with some countries having presented more than once. According to the UN’s VNR database, 51 countries are planning to submit their VNR reports at the 2019 July HLPF, and already 15 countries have expressed interest in presenting their VNRs in 2020. [IIED Briefing Note: Equity-focused, gender-responsive evidence: a blind spot in VNR reporting]


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