1963-2018 - 55 years of Research for Social Change

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Gender Equality: Striving for Justice in an Unequal World

From Chapter 11 – Gender and "good governance"

Whether policy makers can take steps to reduce women’s poverty or address gender injustice depends upon the implementation of policies on the ground. Signing up to international treaties and passing legislation—on issues such as women’s rights, equal access to education, rape in marriage, and equal eligibility to credit and property ownership—is only a first step. Legislation and policy has to be translated into government directives, budgetary allocations, institutional arrangements, bureaucratic procedures and monitoring standards. The connection between political commitment and effective policy implementation is expressed in the concept of “governance”. Programmes of governance reform have consumed considerable international and national attention in the recent past and present.

Definitions of “governance” range from a restricted view focusing on sound management of the economy, to an expanded view embracing such projects as the liberalization of politics and the reduction of social inequality. Governance is described by the World Bank as “the manner in which the State exercises and acquires authority”. For policy purposes, governance is broken down into two broad components: the capacity of the state to exercise authority, and its accountability doing so. “Capacity” encompasses the state’s “hardware”: its financial resources, the extent and effectiveness of its physical and administrative infrastructure for distributing public goods, the number and skills of its personnel, and the conduct of budgeting and policy-making processes. “Accountability” describes the “software”: the system whereby certain actors have the power to demand answers of others, and whether and how malfeasance is detected and punished.

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