Gender and Local Level Decision-Making
“The physical presence of women in local-level institutions is a false measure of achievement of gender goals.”
AREU’s Gender and Local Level Decision-Making project encompassed five case studies across northern and southern Afghanistan conducted in 2004-05. The project aimed to foster a better understanding of the gender dynamics of decision-making in rural households in order to improve policies and programming designed to expand the role of women in public life.
Evidence from the project suggests that there is some way to go before the programming and resources that focus on improving the position of women in Afghan society translate into change at a local level. In particular, the presence of women on a range of community decision-making bodies—a standard measure of programme success—does not necessarily produce the desired transformative or enabling effect on those involved. In many areas the pace of change is ultimately limited by the tolerance of community social norms to such shifts; NGOs and UN and government agencies will thus need to focus on a longer-term and more context-specific approach to gender issues that is rooted more firmly in community engagement.