The Graduate Institute of Geneva: Gender & Development

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The Graduate Institute of Geneva: Gender & Development 

The Graduate Institute of Geneva is an institution of research and education based in Geneva, Switzerland, with multiple partnerships with international organisations, NGO’s, governments and multinational companies. Its aim is to promote international cooperation and contribute to the development of different societies around the world.  

The Graduate Institute of Geneva has a long tradition: it was created in 1927 after the League of Nations was established in Geneva following the World War I, with the desire of avoiding new global catastrophes by facilitating diplomatic relations among countries, as well as training citizens on international issues. From that moment, the Graduate Institute of Geneva has been an institution internationally known for its intellectual independence, as well as for the quality of its teaching.  

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Gender Mainstreaming 

Oh the 4th of August 2020, the Graduate Institute hosted a webinar about how to favour the integration of a gender perspective in the sector of world development –Favorisez l’intégration du genre dans le monde développement, in the original language. The webinar, hosted by Ms Liliana Soler-Gómez and Dr Basil Gross, explained how the gender perspective -also known as ‘gender mainstreaming’- is key to effectively engage in development projects.  

The strategy known as ‘gender mainstreaming’ was adopted at the Fourth World Conference in Beijing, China. As a result of the conference, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (United Nations 1995) was written. The goal behind gender mainstreaming is to assess how gender -understood as the relations between men and women- plays a role in development projects and how these projects need to be designed in a way that women and men benefit equally. According to the United Nations, the ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality by transforming discriminatory social institutions, laws, cultural norms and community practices through gender mainstreaming. In that sense, gender mainstreaming is not a goal in itself but rather a tool that humanitarian actors, governments, and companies can use to ensure that the benefits of development projects are equally enjoyed by men and women.  

Women Are Key to Sustainable Development for All 

Although gender mainstreaming is more than just including women in the projects, women’s participation is actually a key part of gender mainstreaming. Women need to be included in all the conversations about sustainable development. For example, let’s take a look at the United Nations’ plan to tackle climate change. The 2017 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany made significant progress on gender-related issues with the adoption of the Gender Action Plan. UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa reminded in her speech to the participants that investing in women unlocks amazing potential in terms of development and provides climate change solutions. 

Research by UN Women, UN Environment and many others show that in developing countries, empowered women are great entrepreneurs in areas like renewable energy. However, many women work long hours outside the home while also performing the majority of the care and domestic duties. Precisely because of this, women understand the multiple economic, social and environmental benefits that renewable energy may have for their families. If we financially invest in these women -and women everywhere, not only in development countries- we can simultaneously address sustainable development as well.  

Gender Equality in Education: The Key to Sustainable Development  

One of the most effective tools to improve gender equality is to promote education. Education not only transforms the life of the student but also of the communities they belong to, and is key to building peace, eradicate poverty and drive sustainable development. However, there are still gender disparities when we look at educational goals. For example, although more and more women have now a higher education degree, inequalities still exist in participation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. This is very important because STEM underpins almost all of the Sustainable Development Goals.  

Sustainable development is formed by three dimensions: social (people), economic (prosperity) and environmental (the planet). In order to ensure a steady path towards sustainable development, not only a gender mainstreaming perspective needs to be adopted, but also more women need to be educated, and especially more women are needed in STEM areas.  

2020: A Milestone Year for Gender Equality 

2020 is a very important year for gender equality. This year is the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Conference, as we have said, but also this year the 64th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women is celebrated, there is a high-level meeting of the 75th General Assembly on gender equality in September, is the 20th anniversary of the Security Council resolution 1325 on women, pace and security in October, the Sustainable Development Goals five-year milestone, and the 10th anniversary of UN Women. 

In addition, the 26th of August the Women’s Equality Day is celebrated. If you want to know more about women, development and gender equality, do not miss our next posts by subscribing to our blog.