Author: Millennia 2015
Source: Millennia 2015
A Real Time Delphi Study performed for the Millennia 2015 Project
Summary Report - March 8, 2009 - June 27, 2009 (74 pages)
A collective effort by Millennia 2015 Community
Edited by Theodore J. Gordon, Elizabeth Florescu,
Marie-Anne Delahaut, and Rosa Alegria
The study “Developments to Improve the Status of Women” is part of the Millennia 2015 foresight research process organized by The Destree Institute and its partners, among which The Millennium Project.
The Real-Time Delphi technique has been developed by Theodore J. Gordon. It is a relatively new and efficient method for collecting and synthesizing expert opinion. It can and has been used when the experts are widely scattered geographically, when timing is critical, and when expert input is required in making important decisions.
The Millennia 2015 study was designed to collect judgments about gender-sensitive issues that are not yet sufficiently addressed or resolved, those that are emerging or might grow in importance in the next two decades, as well as policies, strategies, challenges and barriers to improving the status of women worldwide and in specific regions or cultures, and the organizations that exist or should be established to address them. The horizon was 2018.
The experts were invited to provide judgments about the likelihood, expected impacts, and backfire potential of a given set of future developments that could affect women. Over 200 invited experts from around the world participated and a total of 4,196 questions were answered.
A more systemic view and policy coherence is needed to help bridge rhetoric and action for improving the status of women. Despite the important advancements achieved over the past 100 years since women movement began, disparities continue worldwide, from the glass-ceiling in the nations adopting equality principles, to more difficult issues such as unequal access to education, healthcare and decision-making positions in many cultures and world regions.
Gender equality and advancement of women is addressed by the Commission on the Status of Women of ECOSOC and dozens of governmental and non-governmental organizations. Nevertheless, there is insufficient collaboration among the different organizations and programs, lack of a systemic view and coherence concerning the priority of prospective policies, and their likelihood, impacts, and potential for unintended consequences.
In order to foster informed dialogue and collect judgments about actions that might improve a synergistic collaboration between policymaking and the various organizations around the world working on women issues, the Steering Committee of Millennia 2015 initiated the global study “Developments to Improve the Status of Women.” The study was conducted using the Real Time Delphi technique provided by the Millennium Project.
A global expert panel was invited to consider around two dozen prospective developments that were seen as being not yet sufficiently addressed or resolved, or emerging, or growing in importance in the next two decades. For these developments and others they might suggest, participants were invited to consider policies, strategies, challenges, and barriers to improving the status of women worldwide and/or in specific regions or cultures by judging the probability, possible impacts, and potential negative effects of the developments, as well as to explain their responses. They were encouraged to give further details, identify other new developments of importance, to specify regions and sectors that might need special attention, and to suggest organizations that might be responsible for addressing the respective developments.
The questionnaire also asked for judgments about the expected future values of five variables that would help assess progress or regress in addressing gender equity.
The results show a wide range of views; remarkably, for all of the developments there was at least one rating at the extreme high and one at extreme low as of all aspects––probability, impact, and backfire potential. However, there was a considerable amount of agreement about many developments.
Positive developments seen as likely, with high impact and low backfire potential (hence, the easiest to implement) include:
• equal access to education is guaranteed by law in all countries [but as one respondent reminds us to ask, what will be taught?];
• women's right to health information and family planning, to decide on pregnancy, and access to safe, effective and affordable health care services is guaranteed in all countries;
• women have equal access to training and skills-development programs to ensure their full participation in the economic and social life, worldwide;
• access to investment and financing mechanisms is equal for men and women.
Not all attractive developments were seen as achievable by 2018. For example, there was a fairly high level of agreement that:
• economic penalties for countries that fail to meet global gender equity standards will not be in place;
• the media will not have stopped perpetuating gender stereotypes
• men and women will not have equal access to natural resources (land and water).
It is noticeable that, generally, the higher the probability, the higher the impact and the lower the backfire potential.
Five variables were also presented to the participants; these were measures that would help assess progress or regress in addressing gender equity. The participants were asked for judgments about the best plausible, worst plausible, and ideal values of the variable by 2015.
The participants provided many interesting comments in the “Reasons” section. Several themes could be seen throughout these comments:
• When men have jobs, it is easier to obtain and implement gender-sensitive policies;
• Frameworks of international and national regulations are indispensable;
• Despite many existing regulations, the gap between rhetoric and practical realities is closing too slowly because of lack of proper enforcement measures;
• Education at all levels should be sensitive to gender issues;
• If gender-sensitive regulations are seen to improve national economies, they are more likely to be introduced and acted upon;
• The vectors of change seem to be positive and moving in a positive direction overall, but in many countries, geographic regions, and rural areas change is more difficult because of specific customs and taboos
• Change takes time––mostly when involving mind-set, as is the case of women status;
• If positive change is to continue, it will––in large measure––be up to women and women's groups to galvanize action.
Among the specific recommendations were:
• Creation of “watchdog” groups to certify national compliance with gender equity standards
• Where regulations or enforcement is weak, women should organize themselves at high level and develop strong lobbies––a conventional approach which seems to be diminishing or is nonexistent in some places.
• Since it will be difficult to estimate the value of non-paid work for GDP calculations (and probably resisted), national quality of life measures should be commonly defined and tracked throughout the world.
• In seeking to reduce the digital divide, pay attention to the cost of access and availability of infrastructure, not just education.
• NGOs should take the lead in these matters. Government actions are too dependent on who's in power; the private sector would be accused of creating inequalities.
The Steering Committee of Millennia 2015 provided important and useful suggestions for improving the report and to continue the study. There was consensus that a follow-up study should be performed taking into account new gender specific issues triggered by the global economical turmoil, while also going into more details so that some emerging issues, regional differences and some contradictory trends currently operating at the global level be made more explicit. The follow-up Delphi should generate new insights for developing scenarios, preferred visions, and strategies needed to get there. One specific recommendation was for a study on “honour crimes” and forced marriages.
Participants in general showed a great interest in the study, read each other's comments and some returned several times to see the study's evolution or review their own inputs. The partial results of the study were presented by Marie-Anne Delahaut, head of Millennia 2015, at the EU ICT 2008 conference held in Lyon, France, November 25-27.
This report (8 March 2009) with the final results (27 June 2009) will be circulated to participants and to organizations and forums working on gender-equity issues to support policy making and set priorities.
Your suggestons are welcome: please send them to [delahaut.mare-anne (at) institut-destree.eu].
=> Full report: /files/files/Publications/Millennia2015_RTD_2009_To_Improve_Women_Status.pdf
=> the M15 Real Time Delphi (EN = FR): http://www.millennium-project.org/millennium/millennia2015.html
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