The Independent Redress Mechanism (IRM), as its name implies, is a mechanism that aims to provide redress to individuals whose rights were breached in the context of a GCF-funded project. In conducting its mandate, the IRM must make sure that no one is left behind. To hold itself accountable, it conducted a self-assessment of its activities to ensure that its commitments to being gender-responsive were duly followed.
What is gender mainstreaming?
“...the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies, or programs, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of policies and programs in all political, economic, and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality.”
UNCT-SWAP Gender Equality Scorecard 2018, UN Women ECOSOC Agreed Conclusions 1997/2
“The accountability framework states that there should be ‘visible’ attention to gender equality and women’s empowerment, including in strategic program documents. Simply including mention of women and girls among a list of vulnerable groups in these documents is not seen as constituting ‘visible’ mainstreaming.”
Both the Beijing Platform for Action and the ECOSOC Agreed Conclusions emphasise that it should not be presumed that any sectors or policy areas are gender neutral. Gender analysis must be used throughout the early stages of programme or activity planning if gender equality, women's rights, and empowerment are to become central components of development policy and practice. It is crucial to consider gender equality issues while creating goals and designing and planning strategies. Failure here results in neglect in all subsequent stages.
How does it apply to the IRM’s work?
In the IRM’s scope of work, it can mean adding one gender component to a training, making programmes to increase women’s access to grievance redress mechanisms (GRMs), or providing safe women-only spaces for investigation and mediation. But, overall, gender mainstreaming is about using a gender lens on each step of our processes, each policy or agreement that the IRM will design and implement. This approach will help us become gender-responsive.
The IRM’s Gender Strategy Note (GSN)
In 2022, the IRM prepared a Gender Strategy Note to fulfill its commitment to implementing a gender-responsive approach consistent with the GCF’s Gender Policy. This approach recognises the particular needs, priorities, power structures, status, and relationships between different gender groups and seeks to address those in the design, implementation, and evaluation of IRM activities. This approach seeks to ensure that everyone is given equal opportunities to participate in and benefit from IRM mandates and proceedings and promotes targeted measures to address inequalities. This note outlines a range of strategies for the IRM to effectively incorporate gender-responsive practices into its work, starting from broad concepts and gradually delving into specific, short-term actions as well as longer-term initiatives.
To produce the assessment, one-on-one interviews of each team member were completed: Peter Carlson, Communications Officer, Sue Kyung Hwang, Executive Assistant, Preksha Krishna Kumar, Registrar and Case Officer, Paco Gimenez-Salinas, Compliance and Dispute Resolution Specialist, and Janneke Kielman, IRM intern, were all asked about their views on gender mainstreaming and their perceptions of how gender is or is not integrated into their work. The questions were based on specific actions from the IRM’s Gender Strategy Note and divided into the IRM’s functions: complaints handling, outreach, capacity building and advisory. Sub-categories included: data, training, IRM procedures, gender assessment, problem-solving, compliance review, proposed redress, planning, implementation, training, Advisory report – preparatory process and Advisory report – subject matter. External tools, such as the GBA+ Intersectionality Job Aid were used to help target the questions and suggest angles that might not have been considered in designing certain activities.
The assessment highlights several significant achievements and initiatives within the IRM that reflect a commitment to gender responsiveness and inclusivity. As part of its fruitful actions in mainstreaming gender, the IRM can count its data collection efforts and its team being trained on important concepts such as gender-related biases, workplace gender-sensitive language, the gender equality continuum, and strategies to respond to resistance to gender equality initiatives, amongst other things. Its use of the GCF Gender Policy in compliance review and the integration of gender into its standard operating procedures are also part of actions taken by the IRM in becoming gender responsive. In 2020, the IRM successfully published an advisory report that analysed the policies of the GCF on Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Harassment (SEAH) and drew lessons from the outcomes of the two SEAH complaints that had been dealt with by the World Bank’s Inspection Panel. The IRM advised the GCF Secretariat and the Board of two options available for addressing SEAH at the project and programme level. This assessment also showed that some specific actions mentioned in the Gender Strategy Note are not systematically put into practice: data collection needs to be broadened and standardised, and, when handling complaints and proposing redress, the IRM can still improve its integration of gender perspectives. The IRM recognises the need to proactively target outreach efforts towards women, gender-diverse individuals, and other marginalised communities.
Looking onwards – More demanding and inclusive work from the IRM
It can now be said that the Gender Strategy Note is an ambitious, well-rounded, and useful guide for the IRM’s work. Doing this assessment helped the IRM self-reflect on its own accountability and reiterate its commitment to gender equality, inclusivity, and leaving no one behind. It has enabled the IRM to recognise its shortcomings in terms of gender-responsiveness, which will help the team commit to new actions to implement in its next projects.