Institutional Mechanisms for the AdvancementI.R.I

Introduction

Background

The political system of Iran before revolution has not been able to attract women’s

participation in public participation and governmental mechanisms and only a limited

number of women connected to the king’s family were recruited in governmental

structures. Consequently, only elite and intellectual women were recruited in the

governmental structure and improving women’s life was limited to this stage.

After Islamic Revolution in Iran and extensive public participation of women from

all social spectrums - that were marginalized before- in political changes; promotion

of social capitals, women were able to enter decision-making.

Electing a scientist woman in the Expert Assembly of the Constitution and presence

of women in the Parliament, powerful political parties and guardian forces; the first

rays of women’s participation in decision-making and planning were sin.

After the imposed war and entering the reconstruction period; women’s organizations

were formed and gender sensitive approaches were adopted.

Since the beginning of 90s, women’s mechanisms were established by the efforts of

women involved in governmental organizations and university. The first national

supreme organization formed after the Islamic Revolution, was Women’s

Department of Presidency Office and has offices in all ministries as consultant to

the minister. This mechanism gradually expanded and by a change in name became

the Center for Women’s Participation in 1997 to do programming and supervise

gender budgets in the third national development plan at governmental levels.

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Article 21

The government must ensure the rights of women in all respects, in conformity

with Islamic criteria,

Vision:

The 20-year Vision of the country:

A society enjoying health, welfare, food security, social security, equal opportunities,

proper distribution of income, strong family structure, far from poverty, corruption,

discrimination and benefiting an appropriate environment.

Note: Reinforcing national organizations for women’s development is a necessity for realization of

such perspective.

Charter of Women’s Rights and Responsibilities

67. Right to exchange creative cultural information and communications at the

national and international levels

66. Women’s right to establish and manage cultural-arts centers and organizations

in order to train responsible women and women specialists to improve their cultural

activities

70. Right to partake in policymaking, legislation, execution and supervision relating

to cultural affairs, particularly, women’s issues

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Current Situation and Achievements

Create or Strengthen National Mechanisms for Advancement of

Women

H.1 CREATE OR STRENGTHEN NATIONAL MACHINERIES AND

OTHER GOVERNMETNAL BODIES

Three main indicators for realization of this goal are as follows:

Presence of a national system for gender mainstreaming

Presence of focal points within the governmental structure

Gender-sensitive training for governmental authorities and staff

In assessing the first indicator, presence of two important institutions in government,

the Presidential Center for Women’s Participation and Social and Cultural

Council of Women, a sub-group to the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution,

presence of a Bureau to Support Women and Children’s Rights in the Judiciary

structure and Women’s Faction in the Parliament show that the existence of mechanisms

in three branches of the country. Evaluating activities of the Center for

Women’s Participation and the Social and Cultural Council of Women shows that

these two can be the most fundamental mechanisms for women’s development in

the country, since according to the Beijing statement, these organizations should

have clear and defined responsibilities and power and the main factors are: sufficient

resources, power and competence to influence policies and reviewing laws.

This organization should analyze policies and strategies and has the responsibility

of supporting, communicating, coordinating and monitoring the implementation

process.

Center forWomen’s Participation

The Center for Women’s Participation, previously named as Department of

Women’s Affairs of Presidency Office was promoted to the Center for Women’s

Participation at 1997 and started its activities holding a defined agenda for increasing

women’s participation at various arenas of high rank decision making and

reporting to senior authorities (such as Supreme Leader, President and Islamic

Parliament). Advisor to the President is the head of the Center though is not holding

a minister title but she can be continually present in meetings.

Center for Women’s Participation had a special attention to the NGOs, a trend that

started years before during the formation of the Department of Women’s Affairs.

Quantitative growth can be observed among women’s NGOs but there are not

enough proves to say that this growth is due to implementation of Article 158 of

Third Development Plan or other social factors have also been involved and influenced

the growth of these organizations. Also, continuation of gender mainstreaming

was reinforced in the process of programming the Fourth Development Plan of

the government; consequently more was allocated to improve women’s status in the

country. Presence of these Articles in the Fourth Plan caused to sustainable implementation

and follow up of gender programs.

2. Membership of the Center for Women’s Participation in Supreme Councils of

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Employment, Youth, Vocational and Technical Training, Social Commission and

also Cultural Commission of the Government resulted to the fact that women’s

issues are taken into account in high rank decision making and supreme levels of

the country. Membership of the Center for Women’s Participation in these councils

is to increase the consideration of the gender perspective in programmes.

Gender Disaggregated Data

H.3 GENERATEAND DISSEMINATE GENDER-DISAGGREGATED DATA

AND INFORMATION FOR PLANNING AND EVALUATION

Planning and programming on women’s issues is not only dependant on presence

of fundamental mechanisms or gender sensitive people who are able to do gender

analysis in governmental structures. Since, existence of gender sensitive and segregated

statistics and data and its continuous distribution is one of the main bases of

mainstreaming gender programs. Moreover, formation of programming organizations

for women on one hand and formation of women’s research centers in universities,

gender segregated data has become a necessity. The main source of information

and statistic distribution of the country is “Iran Statistical Center” that is

involved in provisions to prepare sex segregated statistics and conducting research

in indicating gender sensitive indicators. International organization like UNPFA is

cooperating with government on a project to gather, distribute and using gender sensitive

and sex segregated data.

Also, organizations involved and dealing with women’s issues such as the Social

and Cultural Council of Women, the Center for Women’s Participation and

women’s departments in ministries have had innovations in gathering sex segregated

and gender sensitive data especially in preparing qualitative statistics that has

brought achievements upon follow ups of women’s issues in higher ranks. In this

regard the budget of the center increased and the number of employees and experts

had a quantitative growth.

Social and Cultural Council of Women

Social and Cultural Council of Women in the frame of the Supreme Council of the

Cultural Revolution as one of its sub-group councils stated its activities in 1987 following

the objective of policy-making and conducting research over cultural and

social issues of women including representatives of three major authorities, governmental

organizations and institutions. The main activity of the Social and Cultural

Council of Women is establishing information and statistic center of women in 2000

and preparing mandate of rights and women’s responsibilities in the Islamic

Republic of Iran. This council has conducted researches at different levels such as

Assessment of Women’s Psychological and Physical Health, Assessment of Women

Graduates Occupation Conditions and its relevance to their education, Assessing

level of participation and responsibilities of family members and ways of reinforcing

it.

Gender Focal Points in Governmental Structures

In 1991, in most of the Ministries, an advisor to the minister for women’s affairs

was appointed and organizations were established focusing on women’s issues.

Also, in the structure of State Management and Planning Organization, working

groups of women and youth has been formed. These focal points have been estab-

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lished in the structure of governor general’s office at provincial level. According to

the agenda, all women commissions in all governor general’s offices were formed

in 1990 and gradually these commissions were also formed in governor’s office and

women’s cultural and social organizations were later established in 1992 to 1994 in

different countries. Later, for more coordination, in 1995, a department was formed

in the Ministry of Interior named as the Bureau of Women’s Affairs with fourteen

official posts. During the next years up to 2000, the commissions handed over their

activities to women and youth work groups. Now, office of women’s affairs is

active in all provinces having a defined agenda. Meanwhile, women’s socio-cultural

centers are in the process of becoming independent and in the planning and development

council of each province, a women and youth’s work group is active in

planning process of the province. In other words, inclusion of these focal points in

governmental structures has paved the way for priorities of women’s issues to be

included in local planning.

Gender Sensitive Training for Governmental Managers

The third indicator is gender sensitive training to governmental authorities. In this

regard, office of women’s affairs in collaboration with NGOs and some training

organization has started training activities since 1993 in many ministries.

Meanwhile, the Center for Women’s Participation in collaboration of UNFPA has

started a five-year plan for holding gender sensitive training for government authorities

in five different areas of the country.

Institutional Activities of the Parliament and the State Expediency Council

Institutional activities are of great importance in Islamic Parliament Council.

During the fifth Islamic Parliament Council, commissions of women, family and

youth were formed. In sixth and seventh it changed to women’s fraction to submit

proposals regarding women’s issues. Aspecial committee for women and youth was

established at 1997 in the State Expediency Council, which has influenced the

changes in legislating processes in the county, to prepare and give comments over

general policies of the government and act as a counselor to solve women and

youths’ problems.

Mainstreaming Gender Perspectives

H.2 INTEGRATE GENDER PERSPECTIVES IN LEGISLATION, PUBLIC

POLICIES, PROGRAMMES AND PROJECTS

The following are two main results of the activities of the Center for Women’s

Participation during these years:

Continuation of gender mainstreaming in development plans- it is worth mentioning

that the development plans of Iran are five-year plans and the Fourth Five-Year

Development Plan will start in March 2005. Gender perspective was included in

Article 158 of Third Development Plan that started at 2000 and continued till 2005.

The important point is that women entered the framework of fundamental mechanisms

in development planning procedures. Although, gender perspective emerged

just as an Article in development plans, considering the budget mechanisms and

implementation system it gained great importance. This article promoted the budget

for women’s social and cultural participation (gender budgeting) and the Center

for Women’s Participation reached an agreement with the State Management and

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of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Planning Organization, it was allocated to relevant organization and this center

monitored the costs. The main indicator in this practice is filling the gap of access

for women to implementing organization’s facilities and also the possibility of utilizing

women’s capacities to emphasize on skills learning, proper programs for free

time, increasing occupation opportunities, expanding legal and judicial counseling

services and empowerment of women NGOs. Although a national, practical and

subtle evaluation of the activities during the five years of third plan and preparing

a report was difficult but there should be gender indications, output and final impact

evaluation and stability of the projects considering the objectives and indicators of

the third development plan of the country. We can refer to center of documentation

and information of the Social and Cultural Council of Women (there is a web site),

women’s information center related to women’s participation center, annual reports

of the Ministry of Education regarding education status of girls and status of women

working in Ministries and information site of women’s affairs office of the Ministry

of Interior as examples.

Government’s Actions

Formation of the Bureau for Women’s Affair which later on changed to the Center

for Women’s Participation is a policy making organization in the governments so

that the director of the center is bother consoler to the president regarding women’s

issues and is continually present in government board meetings and is also member

of some of supreme councils of planning.

Increasing activities of the Social and Cultural Council of Women as a policy making

organization in the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution and especially

approval of legal mandate and responsibilities of women and also approval of policies

of establishment, reinforcement and promotion of family in Islamic structure.

Approval of third economic, social and cultural development plan of the country

and its special focus on empowerment programs for NGOs which increased the

number of women NGOs.

Continuation of applying gender mainstreaming in provisions of five year plans of

the country (especially third and fourth plans of the country).

Formation of Women’s Department since 1991 in the Ministry of Interior and

women’s commissions at provincial level and in most ministries, formation of different

women organizations in the Parliament (women commission and then

women’s fraction), formation of women and youth work groups in planning and

development councils of provinces, women and youths’ committee in state expediency

council.

Formation of gender network in four provinces and one region due to the common

project of UNFPAand the Center for Women’s Participation containing members of

governmental and non-governmental organizations to promote the capabilities of its

members in utilizing gender perspective and attitudes in planning.

Women’s NGOs Activities

Process of NGO participation in reinforcing the fundamental mechanisms

according to the report containing activities of 230 women NGOs, focuses on

capacity building to institutionalize its organization. Also, target group of most

of the services have been rural women and disadvantaged and vulnerable levels

of the society.

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Holding conferences to stabilize NGOs in the Third and Fourth Development Plan

of the country

Holding training workshops for empowerment of women for their active participation

in civil society

Research association for assessing the role of NGOs in delivering services to earthquake

stricken city of Bam

Formation and establishment of women and youth NGOs in different cities to

expand the dimension of the activities at local level and stabilize the organizations

Creating networks among organizations to increase communication and exchange

of experience

Running the NGO Training Center for capacity building of NGOs

Gaining consoler status to the United Nations and membership in international federations-

at the moment 11 NGO have consoler status to the socio-economic council

of the United Nations

Establishing branches in the provinces and expanding activities at local levels

Establishing Rural Women Corporations

Establishing special counseling centers for women

Creating training centers for orphan girls in deprived and rural areas

Providing space for NGOs to help them to continue their activities

Membership of NGOs in provincial work groups

Meeting directors of provinces to introduce capable women for managerial posts

Fundamental mechanisms for women’s development are one of the main issues and

commitments of the government. But NGOs play a crucial role in the fundamental

process to facilitate planning, implementation and decentralized monitoring of gender

main streaming processes. Practice and implementation of this responsibility

needs gender focus in planning the projects for service delivery and other projects.

Also, it is necessary to train the staff members of women NGOs regarding gender

issues and also on the issue of NGOs entry to the process of gender mainstreaming.

Focus of most of the women NGOs on reinforcing inter organization capacities and

lack of coverage of target groups in the process of gender mainstreaming shows that

most of these NGOs didn’t have active, determinant and influential over the government

and other governmental organizations and they are mostly beneficiaries of

this process. While only a small portion of women NGOs have a long history of

activity to improve women’s status and are the main consolers of the government

and have actively participated in providing training, gender literature, monitoring of

gender programs, research and evaluating government’s activities.

However, the number of women NGOs holding and consultant status is not enough

to be able to influence the international process. It is necessary for women organizations

active at national level to gain such status in the socio-economic council of

the United Nations.

CNWN Activities

The following have been done to promote working capacities of the network:

Requesting for consultative status and women’s organizations presence as observers

in social issues to the Organization of the Islamic Countries

Planning and action to gain consultant status in policy making, programming and

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implementing organizations of the country

Purchasing a building for permanent settlement of the secretariat of the network

Planning and action to establish NGO system organization in the Islamic Republic

of Iran

Planning and action to prepare the national mandate of women NGOs in the Islamic

Republic of Iran

Quantitative promotion of network members form 70 to 200 women NGOs

Consulting the Statistical Center of Iran for gathering information and statistics of

NGOs quantitative situation in the country which was approved by the statistic

supreme council to be implemented every two year and define gender sensitive indicators

for two groups of men and women to be included in the census of 2006.

Fourth National Development Plan

Part of the Plan that is related to the issue is as follows:

Government is committed to take following actions to reinforce women’s role in the

society and providing opportunities and expansion of women’s participation in the

country:

A. Providing, approving and implementing General Plan of Developing Women’s

Participation including reviewing rules and regulations, especially civil law, promoting

women’s skills according to their social needs and technology evolutions,

identifying and increasing investing bodies in occupational opportunities, attention

to the gender composition of work forces, promoting life quality and promoting

believes regarding competence of women.

B. Preparing and submitting bills regarding the issue of stabilizing family life to be

approved in competent assemblies.

C. Provisions and legal measures to eliminate violence against women.

D. Submitting the bill of establishment and expansion of NGOs, CBOs and

women’s organization to the Parliament.

Note: all implementing organization are committed to foresee the budget needed to

implement their legal duties regarding this article that is related to their legal duties

in the annual budget bills and coordinate for further actions with Women’s

Participation Center.

Challenges and Constraints

These mechanisms stay in the margins of governmental structure and limited to

consultation level and relevant authorities do not have authorizations which makes

them inactive to implement decisions regarding women.

Lack of similar models of gender mainstreaming development in implementing

organizations and lack of accordance of some of these gender mainstreaming programs

with development conditions and situation of the country.

Lack of gender budget to meet the needs of the provinces especially in deprived

provinces.

Those involved in planning and programming lack gender perspectives in their policies,

programs and gender analysis of their outputs.

Lack of defined and transparent mechanisms to promote gender justice.

Insufficient use of monitoring capacities in governmental structures regarding gender

mainstreaming in the organizations.

Lack of a specific definition for “gender” in provision, distribution and utilization

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of statistics and lack of definitions and methods for gathering inputs to assess poverty,

health and human rights among women and men including their access to

resources and lack of gender analysis in statistic usages.

Lack of inputs regarding wages especially in agriculture, livelihood agriculture and

other production activities out of working market due to lack of identification of

women’s economic services and unequal division of wages among men and women.

Recommendation to the Government

Creating a powerful and unified gender structure like a national organization (such

as Commission of gender equality) in the highest governmental rank which will

have enough authority to coordinate the programs of three leading powers of the

country and have legal support in monitoring the activities of these organizations in

gender mainstreaming.

Allocation of enough resources and power and competence to influence the policies

and reviewing laws.

Capacity of fundamental mechanisms in supporting, communication, coordination

and monitoring the implementation process.

Establishing methods to enable fundamental mechanisms to gather information

regarding policies in the first stages and necessity of reviewing these policies continuously.

Promoting gender perspectives among government implementing authorities on

methods of spending gender budgets and necessity of capacity building and their

empowerment on policy making, programming and prioritizing methods for women

issues.

Reinforcing monitoring systems over gender budgets and information distribution

methodologies to beneficiaries to participate in local gender programming.

Priorities on women issues have been settled considering the 30228 credits for

social and cultural participation and it seems that this has been effective in directing

and concentrating credits. It is recommended that instead of focusing on prioritizing,

trust local needs and stick to the prioritizing methodologies offered by state

management and programming organization.

Reinforcing constant reporting on efforts to legislature authorities to generalize

gender issues.

Cooperation with Parliamentarians and state expediency council to achieve gender

perspective in all laws and policies.

Achievement and expansion of collaborations with relevant governmental organizations,

women’s research center, university centers, private sector, media, NGOs

especially civil society activists by national organization for women’s development.

Promoting activities focusing on reforming laws including women’s status in the

family, employment, social services, tax, equal education opportunities by national

organization for women’s development.

Reinforcing direct links with national, regional and international delegations.

Promoting participation of women’s study center of the university and governmental

and non governmental research centers to test indicators and research methodologies

needed to reinforce gender analysis and monitoring and evaluation of gender

mainstreaming processes.

Promotion of active actors in government, private and NGO sectors to work regarding

gender justice among men and women.

Indicating women’s services in the process of development including paid and

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unpaid services in policies and economic programming.

Recommendation to Women’s NGOs

Increasing involvement of NGOs in fundamental processes to facilitate planning,

implementation and decentralized monitoring over gender mainstreaming processes.

Reinforcing participatory activities to bring gender justice and other issues upon.

Providing consultation to legislatures to consider gender perspective in the policies

and programs.

Participation in testing indicators and essential methods to reinforce gender analysis

in monitoring and evaluating gender mainstreaming.

Gender assessment of poverty of women, women human rights, women’s reproductive

health and access to resources.

Conducting qualitative and quantitative research over women’s participation in

power and influence in the society such as number of men and women occupying

higher posts in decision making in private and public sectors.

Extensive activity to advocate gender mainstreaming especially gender budgeting

in the country.

Necessity of increasing the number of active researchers in the civil society with

gender perspectives to consult the government.

Conclusion

During the last ten years, women have been able to enter macro management systems

and gradually create institutional mechanisms for gender mainstreaming.

Existence of two mechanisms: the Social and Cultural Council for Women and the

Center for Women’s Participation created good changes to the benefit of women.

The main indicators that exist to evaluate institutional mechanisms in the country

show the achievements in this regard. Now, there is a national system for women’s

achievement in the country and in both mechanisms efforts have been toward

improving women’s situation. The last effort of women’s socio-cultural council was

providing the Charter of Right and Responsibilities of Women in the Islamic

Republic of Iran and the Center for Women’s Participation presented general system

of women’s participation and general legal system of women and have been

involved in planning process of the government through influencing third and

fourth national government plan. During the last four years there has been gender

focus centers in different areas of the country. All provinces have a consultant to

governor’s office for women’s affairs. The priorities of women’s issues is covered

by the credit of 30228 for women’s social and cultural participation and it seems

that this has been effective in directing credits to the benefit of women. Moreover,

in different ministries, women’s department has created changes in the fields of

women’s participation especially in agriculture and economy. In a general

overview, opportunities have been created gender mainstreaming.

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the Communication Network of

Women's NGOs of the I.R.I