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.