The existing legislation on gender equality in the country needs gender mainstreaming as most of the policies and plans are gender neutral and involve inadequate accountability on gender issues according to a desk review conducted for national Gender Equality Policy (GEP).

Despite the policy protocol document providing a clear framework for addressing gender in policy formulation, the desk review found most policies having minimal reference to gender and the gaps remain in the practice of mainstreaming gender across all policies

A need for awareness and education on the importance of gender issues disaggregation contributing positively to the overall implementation of sectoral policies and implementation of gender-responsive interventions were highlighted by the desk review conducted in July to August last year.

Women’s role in the political and public domain were low especially at the mid and high level of political participation and decisions making.

Although female voter composition in the general election was quite high in the 2016 local government election, the result was less favorable for women. Only 11 percent of women candidate was elected as local government leaders.

The desk review has recommended the need to retain girls in the education system with the high rate of enrollment until secondary education and to provide specific focus on areas where there are gender gaps, in tertiary education, and STEM subjects.

The need to strengthen non-formal education to be closely connected with other measures being undertaken to build awareness and capacity of women at the local level in the political process was also discussed during the desk review.

Chief programme officer with women’s division, NCWC, Ugyen Tshomo, said that there was not enough awareness on gender mainstreaming.

“The same standard was applied irrespective of gender needs and backgrounds. The policies only highlighted equal opportunities for male and female but there is a need to look at different needs and problems to become gender sensitive or to come up with gender-sensitive legislation,” said Ugyen Tshomo.

The policy aims to provide a coherent strategic framework of the government’s priority towards gender equality, strengthen accountability and operational strategies to address priority gender issues and facilitate deeper collaboration across the sectors and stakeholders towards a common vision of gender equality.

The policy includes framework for key gender issues and provisions on gender equality in the political and public domain, women’s participation in decision making, social domain to address violence against women, in economic domain to achieve gender parity in education, employment sector and recognition of the value of women’s unpaid works, among others.

“Violence against women remains one of the most serious impediments to the realization of gender equality and women’s empowerment. It limits the choices of women and restricts their ability to reach their full potentials in the economy or in decision making,” the draft policy states.

Ugyen Tshomo said that the policy focused on narrowing the existing gender gaps. “There are some strategic needs, which women don’t understand the issues or problem. Most think the issues as normal.”

The government is expected to develop a new national plan of the action plan on gender for the period coinciding with 12FYP for the effective implementation of the policy.

The policy is developed in line with the CEDAW committee’s general recommendations, which states that it is not enough to guarantee women treatment that is identical to that of men. The committee emphasized, “a purely formal legal approach is not sufficient to achieve women’s de facto equality with men, which committee interpret as substantive equality.”