What we did: We supported parliaments in Bhutan Chile and Malaysia to conduct their oversight and law-making work using a gender lens.

What we achieved: Parliaments in Bhutan Chile and Malaysia established sustainable practices for conducting their oversight and law-making work using INTER PARES’s five-step model for gender-sensitive scrutiny.

Who we did it with: Local women’s organizations in Bhutan (BNEW) and in Malaysia (ENGENDER), while also benefiting from the peer-to-peer expertise of parliamentary staff in European Union member state parliaments: Italian Chamber of Deputies, Irish Houses of the Oireachtas and the Spanish Congress.

Impact area: Political Participation and Representation

Project name: INTER PARES | Parliaments in Partnership—EU Global Project to Strengthen the Capacity of Parliaments

Donor: European Union

Award period: 2019 to 2022

Boundary partners: Parliaments

 

Successful parliamentary action to advance gender equality depends on an institutional culture that values and prioritizes gender in its work. 

International standards and laws oblige parliamentarians to conduct their oversight and law-making work using a gender lens. But the priorities of political parties, constituents and personal interests, alongside a lack of capacity, time or skills can all get in the way of this happening.

The INTER PARES | Parliaments in Partnership project’s five-step model for gender-sensitive scrutiny aims to address this. It describes how the realization of gender equality is core to the various aims of politicians across all issues, from economic prosperity to peace, and the improvement of health outcomes to safer communities.

Last year, we conducted workshops in Bhutan, Chile and Malaysia, with a high degree of support from the participants. The immediate results of the workshops were extremely promising. In Chile, the Congreso Nacional is considering creating a special unit to conduct gender impact assessments of bills; Malaysia’s lower house, the Dewan Rakyat, has seen the creation of a subcommittee to support gender scrutiny; and Bhutan’s parliament has agreed a list of laws and topics to be examined from a gender perspective.

‘Now that I have fully understood how to conduct gender scrutiny, I am eager to engage more on the review of gender equality issues in the parliament,’ said one workshop attendee in Bhutan. 

Increasing knowledge of the landscape of gender inequality 

INTER PARES’s activities in Malaysia resulted in increased knowledge among members of parliament and staff about the context of gender in their country. The women’s committee subsequently consulted widely with gender civil society organizations to help develop its work programme. It then recommended that the government ensure that children born abroad by Malaysian mothers married to foreigners are accorded legal citizenship. The committee also formed a specific gender subcommittee.

Providing a practical gender scrutiny tool 

The five-step model proved popular with members of parliament and staff. Participants in Bhutan said that the activities ‘responded to the needs/challenges we encounter regarding the use of gender sensitive scrutiny and analysis’. The Hon. Speaker HE Lyonpo Wangchuk Namgyel endorsed the approach of gender-sensitive scrutiny, noting that it will ‘help in our discussions at the Parliament when making crucial decisions that impact women and men differently’. 

Members of parliament also agreed on a list of laws and topics which they will examine through a gender lens.

What next?

INTER PARES will support the Congreso Nacional de Chile with the creation of a dedicated technical gender unit to conduct gender impact assessments of bills, and support the Dewan Rakyat’s women’s committee and subcommittee to progress their workplans.

The five-step gender-sensitive scrutiny model will be published as a guide in March 2022. The model will continue to inform the INTER PARES approach to supporting parliaments to advance gender equality through oversight and law-making. 

Bhutan 

94 per cent of workshop participants agreed that the learning activities could ‘contribute to the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of our parliament’, and ‘responded to the needs/challenges we encounter regarding the use of gender-sensitive scrutiny and analysis’.  

‘This workshop will help in our discussions at the Parliament when making crucial decisions that impact women and men differently.’—H. E. Lyonpo Wangchuk Namgyel, Hon. Speaker of The National Assembly of Bhutan

‘Now that I have fully understood how to conduct gender scrutiny, I am eager to engage more on the review of gender equality issues in the parliament.’—Workshop participant’s feedback  

Malaysia 

  • 87 per cent of respondents to the evaluation survey that said they were more willing to promote the use of gender-sensitive scrutiny and gender sensitivity of parliament as a result of the workshop. 
  • 94 per cent expressed feeling that they would be able to apply what they learned in their day-to-day work, and 100 per cent of respondents stated having experienced either a ‘moderate’ or ‘substantial’ knowledge increase.  

Participants cited interest in hearing more case studies from other parliaments and in attending further training on the issue. 

‘I now have a more concrete idea about gender scrutiny and the training had also reminded me that there’s always some aspects to examine a law or budget from a gender lens to make sure it’s fairer.’

‘The idea itself has not too much difference from what I have learned about putting in gender perspective on issues. The only and significant difference is this round it has been given a “term” and a toolkit (5 steps) to actually can be executed systematically.’

Workshop participants’ feedback 
 

Knowledge resources

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