||With the maturation of the office development over recent years, the complexity of needing to support coordination across a wide range of partners, the need for a sophisticated engagement strategy is clear, however a structure approach has been in place since 2017 thus it is Partially Accepted.
Since 2017 the office has had a clear approach and practice to Coordination and Partnerships becoming a clearly embedded strategy in 2018 to ensure an engagement strategy with stakeholders that focuses on the normative and collaborative engagement. This approach is articulated clearly in the new Strategic Note and the associated ‘Office Growth and RM Action Plan’. In BiH with the large number and wide range of relationships required to drive GEEW across governments at multiple levels, CSOs, a large international community and large UN presence a sophisticated engagement strategy that has real influence and thrives scaling synergy is essential.
To this end the four pronged approach outlined below has steadily increased in sophistication, going well beyond information sharing, today we are seeing more joint collaboration on different initiatives like 16 days campaign, use of thematic meetings to brief in the international community than before. Similarly knowledge products, including technical knowledge products, policy briefs like “Gender In Focus”, and a ‘Normative Roadmap’ are becoming a standard approach to synthesise advice, support online briefs, and for use in lobbying by development partners themselves with decision makers. The CO would posit that use of this sophisticated approach, combined with improved targeted knowledge products, briefs introduced in 2020 in the face of COVID 19, and the beginnings of joint advocacy with partners, illustrate that we are already applying much of the approaches suggested by the ET. We recognize that this was significantly stepped up in 2020, in large part due to the capacity provided by full time Coordination and Communications Associates, thanks to Sweden support to the SN. This certainly this needs to continue and be a regular feature of our effort, UN Women is already referred to as the trusted advisor and thought Leader on GE in the country, this has increased following the teams effective response to COVID-19.
The current practice of leveraging normative and policy through the convening role of UN Women, the importance of partnerships and coordination, use of convening powers has been scaled in 2019 and 2020. In the approach taken by the office; convening powers, knowledge development, products and sharing, relationships and networking are critical elements of GE coordination, structured with four areas of focus.
a) Support collaboration with and between the three GE institutions, seeking to support their influence. In addition to regular technical engagement we have aimed to organise regular Director to Representative meetings to ensure consistency and alignment on key normative issues, in addition to consistent communication on key issues and joint involvement in some project boards, these meetings ensure a regular relationship and opportunity to discuss concerns, overcome challenges and importantly plan forward looking strategic engagement on normative issues. Maintaining this open discourse even if not as strategic as we would prefer is an important element of maintaining trust and openness in the face of shifting political priorities.
b) Strengthen and empower Civil Society Women’s Rights Organisations and movement, note-ably supporting their cohesion and influence. The CO acknowledges its weakness to engage with Civil Society effectively this is a key shortcoming that must be addressed properly by the CO. Whilst Civil Society is fractured, and generally CSOs are highly localized this only points to a need for more effort by the CO, the closing CSAG meeting in November 2020 was very constructive and points to a clear way forward. Based on request, the CO will support the CSOs by providing space and opportunity for them to rebuild the women’s movement that use to function in the country. Unfortunately the CSAG established in 2018 did not provide the strategic guidance, joint advocacy or joined up thinking and approach to supporting GEEW in BiH that was planned. In the closing CSAG meeting (Nov 2020) we organised to reconvene with 20 to 25 CSO leaders to identify a new way forward where UN Women will use its convening powers to provide the space and time for Women’s Rights Organisations to define a way forward together. Create a step change in advocacy and seek to re-establish the women’s rights movement that existed previously before funding collapsed and with it a coherent movement.
c) UN GE Coordination. (see recommendation 4)
d) Systematic coordination with the International community to increase their engagement and focus on GE. Some years ago the International Working Group on Gender Equality (IWGE) was established with UN Women as chair, to ensure the Gender Machinery was involved fully they joined as co-chair in 2016, this provides the ideal platform for informing, briefing and discussing options and joint approaches. The IWGE includes representatives from all international organisations and bilaterals, making it very large, essentially it became more of an information sharing platform. In 2019 an informal subgroup of IWGE was established consisting of the primary actors on GE with a view to focus on joint initiatives, COVID-19 rather disrupted this process, however we have seen more joint engagement, as a result; the November 2020, 1325 SCR anniversary event was organised jointly by AGE, UN Women, OSCE, EUD, also the new ‘Deputy Chiefs of Mission network’ has taken on board GE thematic issues for joint engagement.
The CO has taken a strong stance to cajole, advise and support international organisations and bilaterals to treat GEEW as their strategic priority. If large international actors with huge influence drive the GEEW agenda there is far greater likelihood of success, together we are all much more influential. Major actors who have increased or adjusted their efforts as a result include; in projects and data (World Bank, Switzerland, UK), advocacy, reporting and Human Rights Council (EU and UK Ambassadors, Austria, EU Delegation, Office of High Representative).
While supporting the coordination and brokering of collaboration between the government and CSOs, UN Women has to tread carefully. On the one hand supporting sustained national ownership by governments and civil society within a context of limited capacity and possibly conflicting interest, yet avoiding an over-reliance on UN Women support. It is especially important the CO use brokering capacity strategically and sparingly so as to ensure full ownership and accountability of national partners
This clear structured approach to Coordination and Partnerships and use of our convening powers ensures that UN Women works well with these four groups of key stakeholders; similarly it enables normative/ policy/ knowledge/ advocacy and communication approaches tools and products to be leveraged across each of the groups more systematically.