GIZ Gender Competition 2016
Project “Modernization of local public services in the Republic of Moldova”
Intervention area “Regional planning and Programming”
Why is mainstreaming gender important in infrastructure projects?
Despite the adoption of the legal and regulatory framework with regard to ensuring gender
equality, and the relatively high ranking of the Republic of Moldova in the 2015 Global Gender
Gap Index (26th out of 145 countries), there are still many problems that its practical
implementation faces, including: employment inequalities, under-representation of women in
decision-making positions, social and pension disparities between women and men; the
engagement of women in unremunerated household work etc. These issues occur in a country
where females are predominant (52%) in the general population and where more women
than men are enrolled in, and graduated from, the higher education system.
The reason for mainstreaming gender in infrastructure projects comes from the
understanding that in development policy and practice, infrastructure projects are not gender
neutral. Women and men have different needs and priorities regarding municipal
services and these different needs have to be recognized and reflected in project design
and implementation. Thus, social and gender mainstreaming is an essential component of
the implementation of GIZ projects in regions and cities.
What is the MLPS project?
The Modernization of Local Public Services (MLPS) project is a complex governance initiative
implemented by GIZ, in the Republic of Moldova. Although the project has three components,
the one to which this current entry refers is based on regional planning and programming in
four sectors: energy efficiency (EE) in public buildings, solid waste management (SWM), water
supply and sanitation (WSS) and regional and local roads (RLR). The project includes the
elaboration of a Regional Programme for each of the four sectors in three development regions
of the Republic of Moldova (North, Centre, and South) and subsequently, the development of
projects for each region according to the needs described in the elaborated programme. So far,
11 Regional Sector Programmes (RSPs) were elaborated and 36 feasibility studies or
equivalent were completed (8 in WSS, 12 in EE, 1 in SWM, and 15 in RLR sectors). All the
undertaken work was done through a participatory approach, involving in equal manner the
central, regional and local public authorities and institutions. To be more specific, the
stakeholders at all levels were involved in a pro-active process with a participatory approach
in the workshops of the Regional Sector Working Groups (RSWG) and Project Working Groups.
An integral part of this programme and project development process was the mainstreaming of gender.
How did we do it?
Gender mainstreaming throughout the project activities was both: a need identified by the
project staff and a basic requirement of GIZ and their main project partners (German
Government, SIDA and the EU). Thus, gender mainstreaming was done: a) within the
management of the overall project; b) in the design of individual investment projects; and, c)
in the capacity-building work with regional development institutions.
Furthermore, the project work plans set out clear targets, milestones, tasks and processes and
identify certain ‘common’ activities relevant to all sectors, such as gender and social analysis,
where the MLPS project is expected to promote best practice and process. In this respect, a
national consultant was commissioned to produce tools for gender assessment mainstreaming
and a gender focal point was appointed within the planning project component.
The mainstreaming of gender began with: (i) a review of the social and gender assessment
requirements of the Government of Moldova, client and the donors; (ii) development of an
approach for social and gender mainstreaming in the WSS, RLR, SWM and EE sectors; (iii)
development of methods and tools for social and gender mainstreaming; (iv) drawing up a
timetable to pilot, test and roll out the gender assessment; and, (vi) outlining the training
needs in gender mainstreaming.
The activities were undertaken in a collaborative way, including meetings with:
representatives of the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family to understand
current national practices with respect to gender impact assessment; and,
representatives of different infrastructure projects in Moldova to study the practices
used for social and gender mainstreaming in those projects.
The assessment of the gender impact of the project development pathway was done in a
systematic way with the objective of strengthening mitigation measures. According to the
guidelines developed, when projects were initially screened, a gender assessment was
undertaken. Where there were risks around a negative gender impact, mitigation measures
were proposed for inclusion in project design. Moreover, a proactive examination of how the
positive gender impact of projects can be maximised aimed to see if there are gender
differences in the perception and use of a service so that these differences can be taken into
account during project design.
Furthermore, the gender and social aspects were discussed the workshops of all Regional
Sector Working Groups and Project Working Groups for each of the four technical sectors (EE,
RLR, SWM, WSS), as part of a special session dedicated to this aspect, where specific exercises
were developed in order to see if men and women have different roles in sector activities.
The importance of gender equity was commonly recognised by the working groups and,
consequently, in the RSPs these issues were taken into account. Thus, the activities were
carried out at each project stage to mainstream gender issues and the checklists for gender
aspects were presented for approval.
All types of project reporting (quarterly, six monthly or specific reports submitted to the
donors) record gender disaggregated data and this became an integral part of the project
monitoring and evaluation system. Data and opinions of all participants at public consultation
events, workshops, and working meetings were disaggregated by gender and recorded and fed
into the M&E and RBM systems. It is important to mention that during project implementation,
the RBM was upgraded and correlated with the project partner system and, consequently,
more indicators related to gender were required from the project staff. This was a major step
forward in mainstreaming gender.
An unexpected but great success proved to be on-the-job training for Regional Development
Agencies on gender mainstreaming in infrastructure projects. If at the beginning the RDA staff
welcomed us with a visible reluctance regarding gender mainstreaming, during the
discussions they understood that many of the current problems that they face on project
design and implementation could have been avoided or prevented if they had taken into
account a gender-sensitive approach. However, the reaction of one of the RDA directors was
astonishing. A project employee called the RDAs to agree a suitable date for on-the-job gender
mainstreaming training and one of the RDA directors replied: “It is with this activity that we
should have started regional development”. This illustrates that some of the stakeholders had
been aware of this problem but they either ignored it or did not manage to convince colleagues
that particular attention should be paid to gender. To sum up, the trainings provided to the
RDAs were a great success and at the end they asked us when, and who, will train the local
public authorities on this topic, taking into account that the mayoralties and district councils
are the project applicants, owners and beneficiaries which means that they should embed
gender mainstreaming at all project stages.
The roll out of the gender tools by sector
The MLPS GIZ management wanted to mainstream gender in the project preparation and
implementation process; that is why the agreed methodology and tools were rolled out in
solid waste management, energy efficiency and water supply and sanitation sectors and this is
how we did it:
In the SWM sector, a social and gender assessment report of a project in one of the waste
management zones of Development Region South was prepared and based on it, a separate
chapter for the feasibility study of the project was developed. Eight focus groups were
conducted, in both urban and rural communities where key infrastructure will be located. The
focus groups were held separately with men and women. The scope of the study was to
revise the social and gender tools for similar projects.
In the EE sector, the questionnaires for data collection were revised and indicators for social
and gender assessment for the sector were developed and added in order to reflect these
aspects. The questionnaires were sent to the public institutions for which viable project
concepts are developed in order to be completed. Based on this, the gender expert analysed
the social and gender data from education and health institutions in order to replicate the
practice to the other projects. Having this analysis as an example, chapters for the feasibility
studies were elaborated for all the other selected projects.
In the WSS sector a study was elaborated in order to assess the social and gender dimensions
of a project in Straseni town, Centre Development Region. The main tools used to produce the
document were: interviews with the key stakeholders and six focus groups with beneficiaries
(gender disaggregated). At the focus groups the following issues were discussed: (i) women’s,
men’s and children’s roles in water collection; (ii) use of water by women and men; (iii)
women’s and men’s attitudes regarding the affordability and willingness to pay.
Research findings and their impact on the development of projects
In the SWM sector, the discussion findings reveal that the solid waste management zone is
characterised by an unequal distribution of roles between men and women in household
waste management. More than 80% of interviewed men and women considered that
management of household waste is, in general, a female task which emphasises one more
time the need to take into consideration women’s recommendation and opinions when
designing a project. Consequently, it was proved again that women and men have different
perspectives regarding the type of containers, their location and the time for waste collection.
For example, elderly women prefer the bunker system to the container waste collection.
Moreover, women from rural areas that live near narrow streets prefer the ring bell system to
the container one. Women are against the installation of containers near their houses while
men have nothing against it as long as the frequency of waste collection is increased.
Women and men patterns differ in the Water Supply and Sanitation sector, as well. The focus
group discussions showed that:
The households that use water from wells, in 80% of the cases it is women’s role to
collect water. This action takes about one hour per day and according to interviewed
women, the water collection affects the time they have to take care of themselves and
Women and men use water in different ways and for different needs. Out of 15
household activities that involve water, men use it only in 7 of them while women in 14
Women are more willing to pay for the service than men in case when their household
will eventually be connected to a centralised water and sewage system.
As a result of the interviews and focus groups conducted in the field, and based on the
summary of findings, a gender and social action plan was developed that is also
integrated in the feasibility studies of the projects. Among the most important
recommended activities are:
ensuring gender equality is reflected throughout the project development and
the appointment of a gender focal point within the RDA in order to monitor the
implementation of the plan at the local level;
conducting an awareness campaign on project concept, impact, roles and
responsibilities, service costs and procurement procedures are the responsibilities of
the local authorities to the project beneficiaries for mainstreaming the gender equity;
consultation of the technical design of the project separately with men and women by
the design company;
establishing local monitoring committees where women should constitute at least 40%
What lessons did we learn?
Mainstreaming gender across the design of infrastructure projects is challenging, given that in
the past municipal services are often (wrongly) considered to be “gender neutral”. The work
undertaken by GIZ in Moldova has illustrated that it is vitally important to seek the views of
women and include their priorities in the design of projects. Moreover, we have shown that it
is possible to do this in a practical way that will lead to the design of better projects.
Although at a first glance mainstreaming gender seemed to some to be “a box ticking exercise”,
the field visits and focus groups findings proved the opposite. Moreover, during the
discussions and trainings offered to the regional development institutions, it was shown that
stakeholders have faced already this problem because it was not taken into account
previously. Thus, it was concluded that gender mainstreaming at a very early stage of a
planning process can prevent or avoid social conflicts and even more, to gain the accept
and support of women in promoting the project and its planned activities.
In sum, improving gender equality can only be achieved through co-operation between
regional and local authorities, the technical team of experts, the design company and the direct
beneficiaries. Within the MLPS project implemented by GIZ, the activities described above
undertaken in the last two years have laid firm foundations for the development of better
infrastructure projects that reflect the specific needs of both women and men.