Realizing Their Needs — Women’s Access to Public Services in Sector Decentralization
According to its advocates, sectoral decentralization reforms can make water management, health, education, local economic development, and other public functions more efficient, responsive, and accountable to citizens.
Citizen participation in the user groups and local management committees that often accompany decentralization is also intended to spill over into broader processes of empowerment. Marginalized groups such as women, ethnic minorities, and the poor are especially supposed to benefit.
Since 2004, 13 research projects supported in South Asia, sub- Saharan Africa, and Latin America by the Women’s Rights and Citizenship program of Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) have been exploring exactly how decentralization affects women’s access to services, resources, and local power. The findings show that these reforms do not automatically benefit women, and can even put them at a disadvantage.
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