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Who Answers to Women?: Gender and Accountability: Progress Report of the World's Women 2008/2009

Publication year: 
Author (s): 
Gotez, A M
Corporate author: 
Publication details: 
New York, UNIFEM, 2008

Progress of the World’s Women 2008/2009 provides examples of how women are demanding accountability for action on commitments to promote gender equality and women’s rights from national governments, justice and law enforcement systems, employers and service providers, as well as international institutions. Accountability from a women’s rights perspective exists when all women are able to get explanations from those in power for actions that affect them, and can set in motion corrective actions when those responsible fail to promote their rights.

Gender equality advocates have been at the forefront of efforts to democratize
power relations in private and informal institutions as well as in the public sphere. Indeed, this report shows that women’s efforts to expose gender-based injustice and demand redress have changed the ways in which we think of accountability.

Accountability cannot result from demand-side pressures alone. Progress of the World’s Women 2008/2009 demonstrates innovative examples of states and international institutions taking steps to increase the supply side of accountability. This implies gender- responsive changes in the mandates, practices, and cultures of these institutions
to ensure that there are incentives and consequences for upholding their commitments to women’s rights. This report presents a framework for understanding accountability from a gender perspective and applies this to different contexts in which accountability systems determine women’s access to resources and power: politics, public services, labour, consumer and trade markets, justice systems, and international aid and security institutions.

Since 2000, women have had a global commitment against which to measure progress in building answerability to women: the Millennium Declaration and its Millennium Development Goals. Gender equality is central to the achievement of the MDGs. Achievement of the MDGs depends increasingly on women benefiting from development investments
in education and health, being able to engage in the market on an equal basis with men, and being able to participate in public decision-making at all levels.

This report lays out the rationale for a new accountability agenda for women’s rights and gender equality. It provides evidence not just of an accountability deficit, but of promising government and civil society initiatives and institutional reforms that improve accountability to women.