The role of national machineries, as a way to promote the status of women, acquired international relevance during the World Conference on the International Women's Year, in Mexico City in 1975. This book reflects Division for the Advancement of Women's (DAW) long-standing interest in the area of national machineries, bringing together the experiences, research and insights of experts. The first part of the book sets out the major issues facing national machineries at the conceptual level. It reflects upon five aspects of democratization: devolution or decentralization; the role of political parties; monitoring and auditing systems; and the importance of increasing the presence of women within institutions of the state and government. The second part is a comparative analysis and sets out the major issues facing national machineries at the political level. A combination of factors, including civil society, state bodies and political actors, need to come together for national machineries to function effectively in the interest of gender equality. Next comes the 'lessons learned' by national machineries in mainstreaming gender. National machineries should have an achievable agenda, an important part of which must be 'a re-definition of gender issues. The third part contains case studies that build upon the specific experiences of national machineries in different countries. The successful experience of Nordic countries in gender mainstreaming is also discussed.
issue of national machineries on two other
occasions. In 1996, the DivisionfortheAdvancementofWomen (DAW), jointly with the United Nations Development Programme and the Economic Commission for Europe,
organized a subregional conference on the implementation
of the Beijing Platform for Action in Central and Eastern
Europe.10 This conference, inter alia, elaborated recommendations on how to strengthen national machineries in the
region, including through governmental action to ‘address
the need for consultative mechanisms aimed at fostering
National machineries can be regarded as instruments for
gender mainstreaming, as well as for the implementation of
policies in other critical areas (see Kardam and Acuner,
chapter 4 of this volume), though the UN DivisionfortheAdvancementofWomen (DAW) consultation document
(1998) cautions against burdening national machineries for
women with taking on the role of implementation. Such
definitional confusion is not a problem of this region exclusively, as other case studies in this volume indicate. This
confusion is often reflected in the debates on women’s national
and functional responsibility.
3 Links with civil society groups supportive of the advancement of women’s rights and enhancement of women’s
4 Human and financial resources’ (United Nations, 1999b).
5 Accountability of the national machinery itself.
I discuss the first four points in turn in the following
sections. I will return to the question of accountability in
the Conclusion to the book.
In a survey conducted by the DivisionfortheAdvancementofWomen in 1996 it was noted that two-thirds of all
national machineries are located in government
people and committee stakeholders in place for coordination and oversight, among them the DivisionfortheAdvancementofWomen, an Assistant Secretary-General for
Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, an InterAgency Committee on Women and Gender Equality, the
International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, and the United Nations Development Fund for Women. Human Rights oversight embraces
theoretical mandates that are broader than single-sector institutions or multiple-sector technical assistance agencies
such as the UNDP