Gender Equality and Poverty Reduction

Next to specific strategic goals for NARDA, the members of the network have decided to develop two cross cutting issues that are underlying the work of the NARDA secretariat and the member organizations..

Those cross-cutting issues are poverty reduction and gender equality. Both are fundamental to the achievement of the overall development objectives for all of the members of NARDA and are critical to outcome, and impact of all aspects, of the programs implemented. NARDA aims at mainstreaming the crosscutting issue, meaning that all decisions, analytical processes, policies and planning are informed and take full account of the issues. That mainstreaming goes beyond the integration of a crosscutting issue and requires significant investment of time and resources.

Addressing Poverty Reduction In NARDA determined leadership means capturing and channeling the interest and commitment of all staff to focus more resolutely and forcefully on supporting poverty reduction. NARDA has developed a clear agency vision, a policy framework and is continuously engaged in the development of strategies for attacking poverty in Liberia. At the same time NARDA identified a great importance in clarifying objectives linked to poverty reduction and consult widely with partners and staff in doing so.

NARDA target is to align policies as closely as possible to the current and a subsequent poverty reduction strategy of Liberia. The goal of reducing poverty is informing all planning processes within the agency. Programs and projects are systematically being assessed for their potential to reduce poverty in all procedures. NARDA promotes an institutional culture that supports poverty reduction and is actively strengthening links between mainstreaming activities in Monrovia and the communities throughout Liberia. In any engagement with potential donors NARDA is making sure that the collaboration promotes poverty reduction through joint
projects. NARDA works with the existing skills of staff, assisting the staff to acquire and integrate poverty reduction skills in their work.

At the same time NARDA assists its staff in building new skills with an emphasis on partnership skills in facilitation and coordination and in relationship building (such as active listening, consensus building, negotiation, diplomacy) and skills to enhance flexibility, adaptability, self criticism and lateral thinking.
In strengthening the links between strategic objectives and staff performance agreements NARDA intends to increase internal coherence and consolidate joint efforts within the agency. Credible staff performance agreements are based on objective criteria. Where poverty reduction is one, agency evaluation systems need to focus on developing methodologies for assessing poverty reduction impact. NARDA takes this fact into account by staff performance tracking in regards to the efforts towards an effective poverty reduction. Additionally NARDA uses a monitoring system that provides accountability against poverty reduction objectives and continues to develop and further enhance methodologies for assessing its impact on poverty reduction. Addressing Gender Equality The position of women in Liberia varies according to region, ethnic group and religion.

In Liberia national Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP, 2008 – 2012) developed by the Liberian government under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2008, gender and gender equality are cross cutting issues for all areas of the strategy. The PRSP states that: “The government of Liberia is strongly committed to gender equity as a means of maintaining peace, reducing poverty, enhancing justice and promoting development in the country”. NARDA as an organization is aware about the importance of empowering women and the role gender plays at the development of strategies not only in the working environment but also in Liberia society as a
whole.

In NARDA secretariat, currently six of the 13 staff members are women, close to equal participation. All the women working within the secretariat are in responsible positions, most of them having direct leadership responsibility for other members of the staff. Gender equity is taken into consideration in the selection of new staff. As many of the NARDA member organizations are working in the field of gender equality, NARDA as well has to represent that kind of work not only in terms of staff representation but also in her core objectives. Gender equality must be constantly promoted and actively sustained as indicated by the adoption of gender equality and women’s empowerment as the third millennium development goal. It is therefore of great importance to address gender equality – NARDA has decided to deal with the thematic complex as a crosscutting issue. This mainstreaming of gender equality includes developing agency leadership, vision and commitment, to reflect gender equality objectives in program development, to build organizational capacity for mainstreaming gender equality and to develop monitoring systems focusing on women and gender relationships. NARDA formulates strategies that set out the goals and means by which overall progress of support to gender equality and women’s empowerment can be assessed. NARDA ensures that project documents include gender aspects (e.g. by conducting a gender sensitive stakeholder analysis) and conducts gender impact assessment of project and programs. Additionally NARDA is ensuring that gender objectives are reflected in staff job descriptions and performance appraisals.

NARDA reviews its staff capacity for mainstreaming gender equality on a regular basis. Based on this assessment NARDA develops relevant training programs.
Above that NARDA ensures that gender equality is as well addressed in other training programs and capacity building activities (as well in correspondence
with the cross cutting issue of poverty reduction). NARDA identifies and makes use of in country gender analysis expertise. Additionally NARDA uses a monitoring system that assesses impact analysis on activities addressing gender equality promotion.