The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) program has developed an interactive online toolkit to promote gender equality through volunteering in national policies and frameworks, to help policy makers and practitioners think through how volunteering can support efforts towards gender equality and women’s empowerment. It is available on the UNV Volunteers Knowledge Portal.
Millions of women, men, girls and boys around the world actively volunteer, using their time and effort to help others. Since volunteering is done by and between people, there are differences in how women and men participate in volunteering activities. These differences include, for example, the amount of time that women and men devote to volunteering, the institutional context (formal or informal volunteering), the type of volunteering activities in which women and men engage, the sectors or issues that motivate volunteering. men and women to volunteer, or the levels of responsibility of volunteers.
Like other gender differences seen in society, these are not natural occurrences, but are shaped by social structures and power dynamics between groups of people. When inequalities occur, women’s potential capacities to contribute to development efforts through volunteerism are reduced.
UNV has developed an interactive toolkit to promote gender equality through volunteering in national or subnational policy frameworks, to help policy makers and practitioners think about how volunteering can support efforts towards gender equality. and the empowerment of women.
The toolkit describes ways to integrate gender issues into national volunteering frameworks, strategies or plans. It also suggests ways in which volunteering focal points and other stakeholders can work with broader decision-makers to ensure that volunteering is a positive tool for gender-equal social and economic development.
The central part of the toolkit presents a step-by-step guide to carrying out a gender analysis, identifying and categorizing priority actions and identifying opportunities for policy mainstreaming.
Drawing on examples from different countries and organizations around the world, seven interrelated strategies for change are proposed: 1) Data and evidence-based approaches, for example through improved gender-disaggregated data and measurement ; 2) Address gender-related barriers to volunteering, such as gender-specific safety and security issues; 3) challenge the gender distribution of volunteer work, for example through gender-responsive budgeting; 4) Promoting women’s voice and leadership through volunteerism; 5) Create value around women’s voluntary work, for example through policies and investments to formalize unpaid work; 6) Volunteering to support gender needs and priorities, such as women’s economic empowerment; 7) Volunteering for strategic change and gender equal societies, for example through national strategies and plans.
The toolkit also includes case studies from India, Mexico, Niger and Turkey, highlighting country-specific initiatives to promote gender equality through volunteerism.
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