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evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so
that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal
is to achieve gender equality (UN 1997 ).
But attention has also been drawn to the inadequacies of gender mainstreaming;
it has been claimed that one of the ways in which gender mainstreaming has been
officially interpreted is:
[T]o ensure that the implementation of programmes, processes, and mechanisms are
inclusive of women's participation and responsive to poor women's needs only in so far as
to encourage and sustain their involvement without any real policy impact (Francisco and
Antrobus 2009 : 157) (our emphasis).
Therefore the alternative concept of 'gender justice' is now being increasingly
employed by activists and academics who wish to create a strong enough sense
of, or adequately address, the ongoing gender-based injustices from which women
suffer (Mukhopahyay 2007 ).
Gender justice is a principle that recognizes women's socially disadvantaged
position (Mahowald 2000 ) and seeks to correct this imbalance through various
avenues of policy and action. To promote gender justice is to work for the redress
of inequalities that victimize women and also to address the accountability of indi-
viduals and institutions when, by omission or commission, they contribute to the
maintenance of such inequalities (Goetz 2007 ). An example is in the discussion of
general ethical principles that precedes the CIOMS guidelines:
Sponsors of research or investigators cannot, in general, be held accountable for unjust
conditions where the research is conducted, but they must refrain from practices that are
likely to worsen unjust conditions or contribute to new inequities (CIOMS 2002 : 18).
In implementing this kind of recommendation, careful attention should be
paid to the power dynamics in the particular group, including those that have an
impact on women's right to participate fully. Researchers and sponsors of research
therefore have a responsibility to devise appropriate strategies, in partnership with
women (and members of other groups) who, through tradition and practice, are
often discriminated against. In benefit sharing, this means working for the pro-
tection of women's equal rights to full and autonomous participation in decision-
making, including decisions pertinent to the allocation and use of the benefits.
A study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) explores
the links between actual community best practices for distributing benefits in 14
Women play varying roles in the respondent communities. In most, they are active in the
decision-making and implementation activities, sometimes anchoring the major activities of
the groups …. Whatever their role, women are no longer considered to hold inferior positions
within their societies. They have equal claim to wages and shares. Many of the women-headed
groups said that the early days in the groups' existence were very difficult. The members of the
groups were met with often harsh opposition when they ventured out, be it for conservation-
related or economic activities. An illustrative case is that of Asociación de Mujeres, where the
women faced stiff resistance from the men of the community when they embarked on fish-
processing activities. In sharp contrast to that difficult start, however, they now have a working
value-addition agreement with the local fishermen's group (Suneetha and Pisupati 2009 : 27).
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