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Pillar IV of the MĂŠrida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

Amanda Jessen M.A. Candidate, Conflict Resolution Citizen Security in Latin America May 14, 2013


Pillar IV of the MĂŠrida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

Map of Mexico (with emphasis on Ciudad JuĂĄrez)

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Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

Where are the voices of women, the caretakers of the world, the hands that rock the cradle? 1

As the United States works to continuously appraise current threats to national security, the presence of increasingly powerful and globalized drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) certainly ranks among the most pressing concerns to policy makers at various levels. Driven by consumer demand, the organizations that continue to channel the flow of drugs to eager markets bring with them the capacity to destabilize already vulnerable populations along key drug routes. Nowhere is this security threat more public at this moment than it is in many of the Mexican communities along the US-Mexican border. With rising rates of violence splashed across daily headlines and increasing anxiety on the part of concerned citizens on both the Mexican and US sides of the border, calls for action at the highest levels of public administration have become increasingly difficult to ignore. It is against this backdrop precisely that the Mérida Initiative has come to embody a unique opportunity for bilateral cooperation between the Mexican and American states around the issue of eliminating the strength and reach of Mexican drug cartels. The Mérida Initiative as it is understood under the Obama and Peña Nieto Administrations is a bilateral agreement that seeks to undercut, thwart, or otherwise destroy drug trafficking cartels that have grown in strength, reach, and overall efficiency as a result of what Bruce Bagley calls a “partial victory” won over Colombian drug cartels in the early 2000s.2 The associated activities of these cartels have resulted in what some analysts agree is

1 Linda Rennie Forcey. “Women as Peacemakers: Contested Terrain for Feminist Peace Studies.” Peace & Change, Vol. 16 No. 4, October 1991, p. 332. 2 Bruce Bagley. “Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime in the Americas: Major Trends in the Twenty-First Century.” Woodrow Wilson Center Update on the Americas, August 2012. p. 5. 3 .


Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

the loss of over 60,000 lives from 2005 to 2011. 3 The initiative is supported by four pillars, or strategic objectives, namely, to: (1) disrupt the capacity of organized crime to operate; (2) institutionalize capacity to sustain rule of law; (3) create a 21 st century border structure; and (4) build strong and resilient communities. At the inception of the initiative in FY 2008, the Bush Administration’s prioritization of counterterrorism and counternarcotics programming resulted in large transfers of military personnel, equipment, and training to Mexican security forces. In real terms, a large percentage of the $1.4 billion appropriated for FY2008 through FY2010 was earmarked for achieving Pillar I objectives, until in 2010, when Presidents Obama and Peña Nieto redirected the course of implementation toward Pillars II and IV, with a heavier emphasis on Pillar II, or, strengthening the rule of law. 4 What has received far less attention than another other Mérida strategic objectives is Pillar IV, which calls for building strong and resilient communities in areas along primary trafficking routes. From 2008 to 2011, examples of USG efforts to empower communities included simply adding on to existing initiatives, such as school based “culture of lawfulness” programs and interventions aimed at reducing drug demand and providing treatment services. In 2010, following the violent deaths of 15 youth apparently unconnected to organized crime in Ciudad Juárez, the Mexican government took substantive steps toward prioritizing crime prevention and community engagement, but did not formally agree upon a Pillar IV strategy until 2011. The current objectives that comprise Pillar IV are to: (1) strengthen federal civic planning capacity to prevent and reduce crime; (2) bolster the

3 Clare Ribaldo Seelke and Kristin M. Finklea. U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and

Beyond. Congressional Research Service, January 2013. 4 Phillip K. Abbot. “Mérida Initiative: A Flawed Counterdrug Policy?” Small Wars Journal. January 2011, p. 8.

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Pillar IV of the MĂŠrida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

capacity of state and local governments to implement crime prevention and reduction activities; and (3) increase engagement with at-risk youth. 5 What is glaring, however, is that nowhere in official bilateral agreement language is dedicated attention paid to the role that women play in successful community engagement programming. While it is promising that the importance of addressing dislocated youth is paramount among Pillar IV objectives, it is disconcerting (and perhaps telling of overall program strength) that the role of women is not elevated to the level of strategic objectives. This paper will argue that the success of Pillar IV objectives can in no way be separated from successful gender mainstreaming throughout each program’s cycle. Research Question This paper seeks to answer the following research question: what would a responsible and holistic gender mainstreamed strategy for Pillar IV programming of the MÊrida Initiative look like? Hypothesis The author hypothesizes that at current state, there is limited (if any) dedicated programming under Pillar IV that is both gender-sensitive and focused on empowering Mexican women. But where there may be no dedicated programming to date, the author believes that a gender assessment of each Pillar IV objective has the power to reveal several areas where women can become both active participants and beneficiaries of programming efforts. Purpose and Scope of Proposed Inquiry

5 Congressional Research Service, p. 23-24. 5 .


Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

The purpose of this paper is to take a closer look at how women can be better engaged under the terms of Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative to more effectively impact and effect positive change in border areas. The context of increasing violence will only cover the years from 2005 to the present; the subsequent analysis of past Mérida programming will cover the years from 2008 to the present. Because Pillar IV initiatives like the USAID-launched $15 million dollar Crime and Violence Prevention program is currently targeting nine communities in Ciudad Juárez, Monterrey, Nuevo León, and Tijuana, Baja California, it will serve this paper best to focus on one community in particular. It is the opinion of the author that Ciudad Juárez is the most attractive choice for two reasons: (1) it has generated the most media attention and therefore, the most easily accessible commentary, and (2) it is possible to integrate interview material from two former government officials familiar with the story of Ciudad Juárez, Carlos Orvavaños, former mayor of the Cuaijimalpa borough of Mexico City, and Maria Orvavaños, former Head of the Agenda of former president, Felipe Calderón. This paper will provide enough context around the evolving security dilemma in areas like Ciudad Juárez to situate the reader in a space to better understand forthcoming recommendations. The paper will feature a brief review of critiques of the Mérida Initiative if only to show that current scholarship has neglected to point out the programmatic vulnerability created by excluding female and male empowerment vis a vis the other from strategic goals. This paper seeks to achieve the following objectives: (1) more comprehensively describe Mérida Initiative Pillar IV interventions to the extent that information is available; (2) review and analyze material that underscores the paramount importance of gender mainstreaming and female empowerment to successful community assistance programming in order to convince the reader of the importance of gender mainstreaming; (3) assess where 6


Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

resources should be allocated in order to achieve gender sensitive results using both gender mainstreaming analysis as well as an illustrative tool like the Women’s Empowerment Framework. The paper will conclude by considering the potential implications for both the USG and Mexican Government of not properly addressing gender concerns in program design and implementation. Methodology As touched on above, this paper will derive much of its analytical energy from the following outlets: (1) available government and media sources that address how USG and Mexican Government funds have been spent (as well as the design and objectives of funded programs) on Pillar IV interests; (2) a discussion and analysis of the criticality of gender mainstreaming for effective programming; (3) an interview with two former government officials of Mexico City who are familiar with Mérida Initiative implementation; and (4) the use of a gender assessment framework such as the Women’s Empowerment Framework to facilitate a discussion of where resources should be allocated to achieve maximum programmatic output. Context: Increasing Drug-Related Violence and its Differential Impact on Women In Ciudad Juárez As touched on above, the battle for access to key supply lines for drug trafficking in northern Mexico has motivated some of the most horrific violence in the region to date. The US Congressional Research Service notes that in addition to seeking to expand control over lucrative trafficking routes, DTOs have penetrated other illicit markets, such as human trafficking, kidnapping, armed robbery, and extortion, which in turn has further destabilized

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Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

affected areas.6 Ciudad Juárez, one of the two largest cities along the US-Mexican border, has evolved into a “symbol of the Mexican government’s failed attempts to rein in drug gangs” because of the dramatic surge in drug-related homicides (there were 3,400 deaths in 2009 alone) and its close proximity to its sister city across the border, El Paso. 7

The initial response to this violence was the joint US-Mexican Mérida Initiative to fund program implementation along four axis: counternarcotics, counterterrorism, and border security; public security reform and law enforcement; institution building; and support for rule of law initiatives; these funding streams were intended to support the early goals of Mérida under Bush, which were to: (1) break the power and impunity of criminal organizations; (2) strengthen border, air, and maritime controls; (3) improve the capacity of justice systems in the region; and (4) curtail gang activity and diminish local drug demand. 8

6 Seelke and Finklea, p 2. 7 Ginger Thomas and Marc Lacey. “US and Mexico Revise Joint Antidrug Strategy”, The New York Times. March 23, 2010. 8 Sabrina Abu-Hamdeh. “The Mérida Initiative: An Effective Way of Reducing Violence in Mexico?” Pepperdine Policy Review. Spring, 2011, p. 39.

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Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

In real terms, this resulted in a sharp increase in militarization along the border, which many observers argue has contributed to a similarly sharp increase in violence against women living in border communities. In a Fox News Latino article on violence against women in Juárez, Joseph Kolb reports that between 1993 and 2007 – before Mexican President Felipe Calderón escalated the war against the cartels in Juárez – there were a total of 385 women reported murdered. From 2008 through 2011, there were 789 women officially reported murdered, a more than 100 percent increase despite a saturation of military and federal police in the city.9 As this report makes clear, gender-based violence has sky-rocketed since the initial implementation of Mérida, which, for good reason, has many human rights organizations concerned that in the absence of a healthy judicial system and a stronger focus on strengthening and supporting communities, abuses will continue unabated in a region rife with vulnerability. Mérida Initiative, Pillar IV Programming In response to growing concerns on both sides that military might is not enough to dismantle powerfully structured DTOs operating in northern Mexico, the Obama Administration refocused its agenda by using a pillared approach to programming. Of particular interest to this paper is the Pillar IV, which calls for building strong and resilient communities. More specifically, State Department and USAID, the two agencies tasked with Pillar IV programming, have been operating under the premise that by engendering communities with a “culture of lawfulness” and anchoring tactical efforts in job creation programs, youth engagement, and the expansion of social safety nets, the overall attractiveness and strength of DTOs will be significantly undermined. 9 Joseph Kolb. “Violence Against Women Worse Than Ever in Juarez, Experts Say”, Fox News Latino. July 5, 2012. 9 .


Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

Both the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INCLE) and USAID share responsibility for channeling program funds as well as implementing program objectives, but according to Diana Negroponte at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the INCLE has been the principal driver of programming thus far. Relying on Economic Support Funds from INCLE, USAID has supported a number of projects, some of which include: (1) engaging with at-risk youth to provide safespaces, after-school programs, and skills training; (2) strengthening integrated community work through La Federación Empresariado Chihuahuense (FECHAC); and (3) ensuring financial stability through the creation of new financial instruments. 10 In terms of Ciudad Juárez, the most visible community development strategy under Mérida was the Todos Somos Juárez program, which entered into its first stage of program design and planning in early 2010. An example of a community-driven response to increasing vulnerability in the area, Todos Somos Juárez prioritized thinking around 15 themes, including housing, education, culture, sports, security, and poverty and employment, and resulted in 160 compromises agreed upon by civil society, local business leaders, and all three levels of government.11 When asked whether or not Todos Somos Juárez addressed any specific policy interventions to improve or empower the lives of women living in the city, Maria Orvavaños, former Head of Agenda of the President Calderón, remarked that the needs of women were primarily addressed through health and drug rehabilitation-related interventions. In further reviewing the various compromises online, a search for “mujér” yielded only two compromises 10 Diana Negroponte. “Pillar IV of ‘Beyond Mérida:’ Addressing the Socio-Economic Causes of Drug-Related Crime and Violence in Mexico.” Brookings Institute. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, p. 6. 11 “Todos Somos Juárez”. 2010. Online. Available at http://www.todossomosjuarez.gob.mx/estrategia/index.html

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Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

within the health sector that dealt specifically with women; Compromise 33, which calls out the need to rehabilitate female drug addicts, and Compromise 67, which calls for upgrading a women’s hospital with relevant medical equipment and technology. 12 In all other searches for compromises developed explicitly for women’s needs, the words “beneficiaries” and “persons” are used instead to delineate the target audience. Diana Negroponte writes that Todos Somos Juárez has since lost much of the steam that powered early momentum, but because it was widely accepted as a legitimate vehicle for social reform, it still serves as an example of the kind of program that was successful in garnering community buy-in and thus could ostensibly be duplicated in the future. 13 Although Todos Somos Juárez was conceived by the Juárez community itself, the subsequent list of compromises should not be seen as separate from the overarching priorities of Mérida. At minimum, it is clear that an explicit strategy for both addressing the unique needs of women living in target communities and for leveraging the experience, insight, and abilities of female community leaders to effect the kind of social and cultural change prioritized by Pillar IV interventions is absent from elevated policy goals that address parallel demographics. For example, youth engagement and job creation ranks among the highest priorities for community strengthening and rehabilitation efforts. In all of the policy language reviewed, “youth” remains an aggregated construct in as much as sub-objectives for female youth and male youth are absent. Based on policymakers’ operating assumption that by directing listless, unemployed youth toward community engagement and income-generating projects drug trafficking cartels will lose access to a pool of new recruits, it seems safe to assume that the “youth” policymakers continue to reference are exclusively male. If policy 12 “Todos Somos Juarez”, 2010. 13 Negroponte, p. 4. 11 .


Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

directives drive program interventions, it is more than clear that Mérida does not adequately inform implementers of the need to effectively weave in gender considerations and sensitivities throughout. The Importance of Gender Mainstreaming in Programming What exactly does it mean when gender is overlooked or neutered in terms of program design and intervention? In the years since Secretary of State Hilary Clinton personally made global women’s issues a top priority, much has been written about the benefits of gender mainstreaming to the effectiveness of overall programming as well as the vulnerabilities and gaps created when gender is introduced as an afterthought. In USAID’s landmark policy, “Gender Equality and Female Empowerment”, the agency stops short of calling for full gender mainstreaming, but states that “no society can successfully develop without providing equitable opportunities, resources, and life prospects for males and females so that they can shape their own lives and contribute to their families and communities.” 14 The UN Economic and Social Counsel defines gender mainstreaming as: The process of assessing the implications for women and men in any planned action, including legislation, policies, and programmes. It is a strategy for making the concerns and experiences of women as well as men an integral part of design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and social spheres, so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. 15 From these perspectives, it is clear that a gender-mainstreamed program will take into account the projected impact on women and men both individually and in relation to each other of any and all intervention elements throughout the entire project cycle. In these cases, all recommendations for programming are made through a “gender lens”, or, in other words, 14 USAID. “Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy.” March 2012. 15 Amani El Jack. “Gender and Armed Conflict: Overview Report.” Bridge. Institute of Development Studies. University of Sussex. August 2003. p. 33.

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Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

with an understanding that programs may differentially impact women and men in such a way as to: (1) fundamentally undermine a strategy of empowerment for both males and females and (2) result in actual harm done to communities already in a vulnerable state. In terms of supporting community-based interventions such as the ones prescribed by Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative, it is often women that can have the most transformative impact on rehabilitating a community. Referring to women as “community managers” 16, Caroline Moser has adeptly outlined the ways in which women are tasked with the responsibility of knitting tightly the threads of a social fabric, often keeping their fingers closest to the pulse of their own communities. It is precisely because of this that UNIFEM lists indicators such as “increased avoidance of markets/gardens by women due to fear” and “increased ‘informal negative discourse’ (gossip)” as good measures of impending conflict; both of these indicators measure the changing nature of women’s active involvement in their own communities such that a decrease in presence within their communities can be read as an early warning sign of potential conflict. Elise Boulding further describes the historical role of women as vanguards of their communities in her work on futuristic modeling as a method of peacebuilding. What tends to be ignored is the historical reality that women’s work of feeding, rearing, and healing humans and of building and rebuilding households and communities under conditions of constant change—including war, environmental catastrophe, plague, and continual push-pull migration—has produced resources and skills within women’s cultures that have been critical not only to human survival but to human development.17 This is not to suggest, though, that women’s ability to bridge social gaps and support peace is somehow inborn, but rather to suggest that by virtue of women’s interaction with the 16 Caroline Moser. “The Gendered Continuum of Violence and Conflict.” Victims, Perpetrators, or Actors? Gender, Armed Conflict, and Political Violence. London: Zed Books, Ltd. 2001, p. 45. 17 Elise Boulding. “Feminist Inventions in the Art of Peacemaking.” Peace & Change, Vol. 20 No. 4. October 1995, p. 410. 13 .


Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

discourse of gender and gender dynamics, they are uniquely positioned to address issues related to the health of a community. 18 Because of women’s unique and historical role as both culture bearers and community monitors, it follows logically that addressing the needs, concerns, and insights of women should be the first step taken in any type community rehabilitation effort. Leveraging the Women’s Empowerment Framework In order to uncover a deeper understanding of how Pillar IV goals and objectives might intersect with interests and equality of women in cities like Ciudad Juárez, it makes sense to spend time mapping out real-world spaces where policy impact can help or hurt intended beneficiaries. In support of efforts to more carefully predict and account for undesirable harm, a rich and powerful database of gender analysis tools has become available to practitioners working in this field. The Women’s Empowerment Framework, developed by Sara Hlupekile Longwe, a consultant based in Lusaka, Zambia, is one such method that attempts to flesh out the practical manifestations of women’s equality; in other words, the assessment seeks to enable practitioners to answer the question, “What does gender equality look like in this particular place, at this particular time, and with regard to this particular intervention?” Returning to the above discussion of Ciudad Juárez, the Women’s Empowerment Framework can help map out potential impacts in the city by focusing first on stated Pillar IV objectives and thinking through where these objectives might intersect with the five different levels of equality articulated by Longwe: (1) welfare, (2) access, (3) conscientisation, (4) participation, and (5) control. In continuance of this discussion, this paper will illustrate the 18 Linda Rennie Forcey. “Women as Peacemakers: Contested Terrain for Feminist Peace Studies.” Peace & Change, Vol. 16, No. 4. October 1991.

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Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

questions that need asking and details that require integration to ensure gender sensitive programming by moving through each goal of USAID’s strategic plans for Pillar IV. Heavier focus and attention will be paid to Pillar IV’s third objective, which is to engage at-risk youth, because this objective allows the most space to explore the multi-faceted nature of gender mainstreamed programming. Pillar IV: Objectives One and Two The first objective is to strengthen federal civic planning capacity to prevent and reduce crime and the second objective is to bolster the capacity of the state and local governments to implement crime prevention and reduction activities. While there is no explicit USAID guidance on how to capacitate governance in the way that there is for directly engaging youth communities, both goals would seem to involve expanding and streamlining human resources functions, implementing specific and various levels of training for government officials themselves, and initiating an integrated approach from the federal to the state to the municipal levels of government. It is the author’s view that the following notes to consider for gender sensitization applies equally to each objective. The framework stipulates that welfare encompasses whether or not women have equal access to resources “such as food supply, income, and medical care.” 19 In terms of welfare, policymakers should examine how these objectives materially improve women’s access relative to men. In other words, will the broadening of state capacity to plan and implement a strategy of any kind include an equal division of resources for both women and men? Will women involved in this particular capacity receive the same pay as men for the

19 Candida March, Ines Smyth, and Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay. “A Guide to Gender-Analysis Frameworks,” OXFAM GB, 1999, p. 95. 15 .


Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

same job? If and when women receive the same pay as men, is there support in place to minimize potential backlash from male beneficiaries? Longwe stresses that access includes emphasis on equality of opportunity. 20 In terms of objectives one and two, then, access could be defined as whether or not women are able to interact with decisions or efforts to strengthen civic planning and implementing capacity. In other words, does there exist discrimination against women who wish to contribute to the planning and implementing process? If so, what does it look like and how can programmatic considerations address it? What sorts of mechanisms are in place to better facilitate women’s access to high-level discussions? In addition, it would serve policymakers to question whether or not under current Pillar IV recommendations female participants in this area of government suffer from the “triple burden” of earning an income, caring for families, and managing community affairs.21 Conscientisation involves the belief that a division of labor should be predicated on sexual equality.22 In terms of objectives one and two, this prong addresses how the process of strengthening civic planning and implementation unfolds, who is responsible for which elements of it, and whether or not gender-differentiated roles and responsibilities are equally valued. It would also be relevant to look into whether or not there exist current hierarchies of roles and responsibilities that exclude or minimize female participation and whether or not Pillar IV programming supports or undermines those hierarchies. Participation is perhaps the most tactile of levels of equality in that variation in participation is easily observable. Some questions to ask here could include: do women 20 Ibid. 21 Caroline Moser. Gender Planning and Development: Theory, Practice and Training. Routledge, 2002, p. 100. 22 Ibid. 16


Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

participate as equally as men in the planning and implementation process? Where decisionmaking power is vested, do women have equal access to those particular levers? Are planning and implementation capacities themselves being strengthened to make equal room for women at all levels of leadership? Finally, equal control suggests that domination over factors of production and distribution of benefits is split in a balanced way between men and women. 23 In the case of objectives one and two, it would mean that women are just as able to steer the direction of planning and implementation capacitation as men, which would suggest that they occupy parallel roles at high levels of leadership. Pillar IV: Objective Three The third objective is to increase engagement with at-risk youth. This objective is of particular interest as it deals directly with the population demographic that has historically fed the ranks of the very drug cartels Mérida seeks to eliminate. To begin, “at-risk youth” is not disaggregated at the strategic level, which makes it difficult to ascertain how Mérida policymakers have envisioned addressing the unique needs of young men and young women. Assuming, though, that young women are targeted with the same level of focus and energy, policymakers would be wise to plan community development programs with Longwe’s five levels of equality in mind. Adding in USAID’s “Guide to Cross-Sectoral Youth Assessments”, it is possible to draw policymakers’ attention to symptoms of gender sensitive programming along Longwe’s five equality parameters throughout a multi-sectoral youth engagement strategy that involves economic growth, education and democracy and governance. 24

23 Ibid. 24 USAID. “Guide to Cross-Sectoral Youth Assessments: Guides and Toolkits Series.” Eds Ron Israel, Barry Stern, and Clare Ignatowski. 2009. 17 .


Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

Economic Growth Starting first with economic growth, welfare implies that under Mérida Pillar IV programs, young women would experience an uptick in real benefits of labor. In other words, there would be evidence of wage growth in major industries over time. Closely related to welfare, an increase in access would imply that young women are increasingly able to obtain a larger share in overall employment. In addition, young women should have access to industries where GDP, output share, and productivity are all growing rather than to industries that are stagnant or in decline. Conscientisation in this case refers to how comfortable a community is with the idea that young women and men should enjoy equal access to higher-value, higher-paid employment. In cases where it is clear that young men outnumber women in formal employment and, on the other hand, where women are employed in sectors with low value and low wages, the level of conscientisation can be assumed to be quite low. Participation is closely connected with welfare and access in that it would qualify the degree to which young women are motivated to enter to the formal workforce under Pillar IV programs. Where new jobs are overwhelmingly secured by young men, low levels of young female participation in wage earning could signal that elements of a given program are not adequately gender sensitized. In addition, programs that focus on female economic empowerment must also make considerations for supplying additional protection for women made more vulnerable by increased economic assertiveness. 25 Finally, control signifies the degree to women young women can manipulate their abilities to participate in and mobilize around economic growth opportunities. Control also 25 Nina Sudhakar and Kathleen Kuehnast. “The Other Side of Gender: Including Masculinity Concerns in Conflict and Peacebuilding.” Peace Brief, vol. 75. United States Institute of Peace. January 14, 2011.

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Pillar IV of the MĂŠrida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

means that women are able to decide when and where to spend the money they earn without fear of male retribution. Where control is not balanced equally between women and men, it is clear that a given program may be exacerbating power dynamics that are not favorable to female empowerment. Education It is a widely held belief that education often opens doors to young people for whom equality of opportunity is not otherwise a reality. In taking a closer look at how educationoriented programming under MÊrida can best address the unique needs of young women, Longwe’s five levels of equality again become an important organizing principle. In the context of gender sensitized programming, the material welfare of young women should equal that of young men. In other words, young women should not find that they are not equal beneficiaries of, for example, an intervention that provides school supplies, books, or school uniforms. If Pillar IV programs are on track to mainstream gender for this objective, young boys and young girls should be materially on par with each other. In terms of access and participation, programming should take into consideration differential realities of boys and girls in attending school. Implementers should identify any additional barriers that keep young girls from attending (additional housework, care for the elderly, etc.) and plan to address those barriers in their programs. The same high value placed on young men to complete compulsory education should be emphasized for young women as well, thereby addressing the cultural shift that is needed to underpin increased educational access for young women. In this case, conscientisation refers not specifically to a sexual division of labor, but more to a sexual division of what is learned in school. In cases where some young men are 19 .


Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

encouraged to pursue high value subjects (e.g. math, science, engineering, etc.) and young women are encouraged to pursue low value subjects (e.g. humanities-oriented subjects, crafts, etc.), young people are inadvertently taught that what some kids learn and are equipped to do is inherently better than others. In other words, where this “asymmetrical landscape of science, technology, engineering, and math” persists, workforces lose out on contributions from women and women lose out on access to lucrative and fulfilling careers. 26 Control in the case of educational attainment best qualifies the degree to which young women in school can direct the course of their own lives with what they have learned. For example, the degree to which women develop assets, attain high wages, achieve formal job placement, and engage civically can relate to the degree to which young women are able to utilize and channel what they learned. Democracy and Governance For young women to be supported by programming in the democracy and governance space27, the welfare, access, and participation of young women should be improved by measures to increase political participation. In other words, program objectives should result in elimination of cultural or attitudinal barriers that keep young women out of politically or civically-minded organizations. Barriers to electoral participation should also be accounted for and addressed in programming. Increased participation means both increased numbers of women in political organizations as well as increased numbers of women at the polls, which also means that during times when voting becomes physically risky, extra measures should be put in place to ensure that women can travel safely to and from the polls.

26 Chelsea Clinton. “Getting to the STEM of Gender Inequality”. Huffington Post IMPACT. April 3rd, 2013. 27 USAID. “Guide to Cross-Sectoral Youth Assessments: Guides and Toolkits Series.” Eds Ron Israel, Barry Stern, and Clare Ignatowski. 2009.

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Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

Conscientisation and control imply that young women are not only members of youth organizations, but enjoy access to positions of leadership and decision-making. As holders of high-value positions, young women should have the opportunity to influence the direction of organizations to the same extent that young men do. It is clear at this point that gender mainstreaming is neither a simple nor one-track process, and that adequately integrating and mainstreaming the unique needs of women and girls requires careful planning, strategic thought, and allocation of resources. What has been illustrated above is an attempt to imagine the ways in which Pillar IV programming of Mérida would look like if and only if program design and implementation carefully consider the women of a place like Ciudad Juárez. Concluding Comments: Implications for Policymakers of Gender Insensitive Programming With the completion of the above exercise, it is now possible to think through potential consequences for policymakers of not thoroughly mainstreaming gender considerations throughout programming. To begin, when women are not treated as equal stakeholders in program interventions designed to alleviate the suffering or maladaptive behavior of a community, the interventions themselves are doomed to fail. Any development scenario in which slightly over half of the intended beneficiaries are not adequately and thoughtfully considered is fundamentally flawed from the outset. Second, without programs in place that fundamentally challenge the operative gender power dynamics that can drive conflict in the first place, violent social constructs that reinforce dominant masculinities vis-à-vis submissive femininities will persist. This means that men will continue to enjoy heightened welfare, access, participation, and control to the 21 .


Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters

detriment of women’s ability to enjoy similar welfare, access, participation, and control. Where threats to physical security are at play much as has been the case throughout Ciudad Juárez over the past 6 years, gender blind development interventions run the real risk of further threatening the lives and livelihoods of female community members. And third, on a more macro level, where structural violence that inherently favors one half of the population over the other continues to persist, Paul Farmer argues that systemic abuse on several levels necessarily follows. He also comments on the futility of the provision of one set of rights when all others are structurally denied. “...the absence of social and economic power empties political rights of their substance.” 28 So where Mérida succeeds in the provision of safety, security, and access for some elements of the population, the remaining elements are left not only unaccounted for, but that much more vulnerable to asymmetries and inequalities enhanced by uneven program implementation.

28 Paul Farmer. Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor. University of California Press. 2004, p. 16.

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Pillar IV of the Mérida Initiative: Why Assessing Impact on Women Matters