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Knowledge and information management for Gender Mainstreaming

Knowledge and information management for Gender Mainstreaming

Gender Mainstreaming (GM) requires new forms of knowledge acquisition, communication and knowledge management at the interface between policymaking, administration and science, because previous knowledge needs to be checked for orientation to gender equality and if necessary extended. For example, the term “gender” must be adequately communicated and may not be reduced to just the two groups “men” and “women”.
In knowledge management for Gender Mainstreaming, a distinction must be drawn in implementation between the introductory phase and the phase of transition into regular practice. In the introductory phase, the main focus is on information about the strategy GM and its implementation and on the development of gender knowledge. In the transition to regular practice, i.e. where all actions are taken with an orientation to gender equality, existing gender knowledge should be retained and continually developed further for the organization with a knowledge management system.

In the introductory phase of GM, information and communication regarding the content and form of implementation are therefore a central element in implementation. It is important in this respect to pay regard to the organization’s culture, since not all information and communication routes are organized in the same way in all organizations. If, for example, it is not usual in an organization to oblige members of staff to take part in training events, GM should likewise not be obligatory. Otherwise problems of resistance and acceptance could be created which are not directed against the topics of GM or gender equality themselves but are quite simply against the obligatory participation that is foreign to the organization’s culture. If, conversely, it is usual in another organisation to make attendance obligatory for important topics, then this should naturally be the case for GM as well.

Pilot projects and training courses support the formation of knowledge in an organization. There is a gain for the extension of gender knowledge and the acquisition of gender competence in an organization only if pilot projects are carried over into day-to-day routines. This can be expected, for instance, when a GM tool is developed such as the Working Aid “Gender Mainstreaming in the preparation of legislation” (Gender Impact Assessment) issued by the Federal Government. This includes experience that has been gained, set out in a form that is accessible and understandable for everybody.

Regular continued training courses are invaluable for promoting the formation of knowledge. These achieve their goal in particular if routines are then changed in the long term following return to the job. It is also important for superiors to ask about the newly-acquired gender knowledge and to acknowledge it as specialist knowledge and a technical skill. This will then show other members of staff that these training courses are “worth doing” because they are for example relevant for furthering careers.

Gender knowledge is part of the normal specialist knowledge in the regular practice of GM. This must be demonstrated by the provision of gender knowledge in the organization by means of a relevant knowledge management system. But it is often not clear what information is needed, in what scope and where it exists, with which methods it can be acquired and how it should be analyzed and evaluated. Tools which support the systematic acquisition of new gender knowledge can be of use here.

In all phases, knowledge management for GM must create an infrastructure for staff to enable them to
  • recognize gender aspects in their tasks and areas of action and process them in a way that is oriented to gender equality,
  • use their specialist knowledge in a way that is differentiated in terms of gender,
  • find and network existing sources of information thus avoiding doubling of work.
One of the most frequent barriers to the introduction of a knowledge management system is that members of staff are often not particularly willing to share their individual knowledge. This can in particular be the case with gender knowledge, since this knowledge has not up to now been institutionalized to the same degree as other specialist knowledge. Gender knowledge is thus a particular resource in an organization that wants to implement GM. On the whole it is not a matter of creating something completely new for GM, but of taking and extending existing gender competence that has hitherto not been used. This gender competence is frequently already possessed by a few members of staff such as equal opportunities commissioners. It is the task of management in a top-down process to motivate staff such as department heads and to persuade them to share their knowledge with others. It should in this regard be clarified who decides what at which level and how much information in each case is relevant for other levels, for instance for decision-making. Management staff do not need all available information on a subject for their decisions, but they do need concrete options for action which they can balance against each other. In this connection, it is often important for the implementation of GM that management staff ask about gender aspects as relevant technical criteria for decision-making. You can find out more about knowledge and information management as a top-down task here. It is also important for staff to signal in bottom-up processes where need and support exist in the development of their own gender knowledge. Management can provide specific training courses in this regard. You can find out more about the relationship between knowledge management and bottom-up processes here.

With regard to implementation in public administration and especially in Federal Ministries, it is moreover important
  • to develop and use new forms of cooperation such as inter-departmental project groups or working groups (cf. Section 10 of the Joint Rules of Procedure (GGO)),
  • to use existing inter-departmental modes of cooperation (cf. Section 20 of the GGO),
  • to make already existing knowledge, information and data usable and available to the ministry administration for Gender Mainstreaming,
  • to recognize and use allied goals and synergy effects between e-government and Gender Mainstreaming.
As knowledge is tied to persons, it is important for systematic knowledge management that staff should be bound to the organization for as long as possible, i.e. their leaving the organization should be avoided. What this means for staff development is that there should be more flexibility in the work organisation and that compatibility of career and family responsibilities should be facilitated by means of such work forms as part-time working and working from home. This would motivate in particular women, who are still mainly the ones who take on responsibilities of care in the family, to stay in the organization and make their own knowledge available.

With regard to knowledge management, other new work forms should be taken into consideration, especially in public administration, such as working from home that has already been mentioned, but also e-government with such new elements as the intranet. Digital data processing and information and communications technologies are gaining increasingly in importance in society and should not by any means be neglected in the implementation of GM and working in a way that is oriented to gender equality.

Information in the intranet should be presented in a way that is oriented to gender equality. The information provided in the intranet should contribute to putting a slant on gender relations that promotes gender equality, because gender knowledge as knowledge of gender relations in a certain context is the basis for being able to act in a way that takes due account of gender.

From a technical point of view, access to the intranet must be guaranteed equally for all target groups. But “equally” means here taking differentiated account of the different needs of members of staff. Different levels of prior experience in using digital media should, for example, be allowed for in the technical design.

This applies equally to the introduction of e-government. All target groups must have equalized access to information. Since there is still a “digital divide” in Internet use, target groups which do not have access to online forms as a matter of course must continue to be informed and addressed in other ways, These aspects are important in particular in the subject area New Media and Information and Communications Technology.


erstellt von Administrator zuletzt verändert: 02.01.2010 20:07