Mongolia: TOWARDS GENDER-RESPONSIVE AND INCLUSIVE ULAANBAATAR CITY

ULAANBAATAR CITY BACKGROUND:

Mongolia is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. The sparsely populated countryside contrasts with the capital city Ulaanbaatar, which is home to almost 1.5 million inhabitants, or half of the country’s population.  In Ulaanbaatar, air pollution originating from use of coal and low-grade heating materials for the heating in ger areas and traffic contribute to air pollution levels that are among the highest worldwide, with considerable effects on public health. Water pollution, insufficient sewage systems and poor waste management are other important challenges in the ger areas (semi-urban area located in outskirts of city). The residents of Ulaanbaatar city account for 46 percent of the total population of Mongolia, of which, 48 percent are men and 52 percent are women; men to women ratio is 92 to 100. The gender development index is 1.01 at the national level, 1 in Ulaanbaatar, and the gender empowerment index is 0.53.

The municipality is divided into nine districts (or duuregs, equivalent to rural soums) and a total of 151 micro-districts (or khoroos, equivalent to rural baghs). Six duureg constitute the core centre of the city (Bayanzurkh, Bayangol, Chingeltei, Khan-Uul, Sukhbaatar, Songinokhairkhan), while the remaining three duureg form satellite settlements at some 20 to 50km distance from the centre. As mentioned, about half of Mongolia’s population or 1.5m people are officially registered in the Municipality Ulaanbaatar (MUB). To this figure, an unknown number of people must be added who live as unregistered migrants in the city. Over 93 percent of ger area residents who were not born in their district came from outside UB.

The size of pre-urban area, which is called Yurten (ger) district is becoming bigger and bigger from year to year, and living condition there is not improving. Air and soil pollution reached a disastrous level. Air pollution is causing a sudden increase in cases of respiratory illnesses and fatalities in children under the age of 5. It also affects the development of a fetus.

Therefore, the local self-governing bodies and administrative organizations should urgently develop and implement gender-responsive policy and planning that should promptly start initial steps to address the challenges that the city is facing.

GENDER EQUALITY POLICY SUPPORT FOR MUNICIPALITY:

The governance component of Energy Efficiency Project (EEP) supported Municipality on the development of gender equality policy document. This work was solely based on projects main partners request and needs and contributes towards sustainable development and is in line with the following policy papers:

The global Sustainable Development Goal #5 “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”,  as well as Mongolia Sustainable Development Vision 2030 “Ensure gender equality in social development and create a pleasant environment for equal participation in social welfare”, Law on Ensuring Gender Equality “Incorporate gender equality promotion activities in the Economic and Social Development Guidelines and sector development policies and programmes”, and National Programme on Gender Equality (2017-2021) approved by the Government, “Fostering gender-responsive policy, planning and budgeting processes at the national, local and organizational levels”.

Under these objectives, Ulaanbaatar City Subprogramme on Ensuring Gender Equality was developed in accordance with policy documents such as Law on Development Policy Planning, the Government Action Plan 2016-2020, and the Municipal Governor and Ulaanbaatar city Mayor’s Action Plan for 2016-2020, Gender Equality Assessment of Ulaanbaatar City, A Guideline to develop local gender subprogramme, and Happy City Indexes. The subprogramme focuses on changing behavior of public officials and public in general, adopting principles of gender equality at local level, while considering different impacts of legislation, policy and programmes to men and women, giving equal weight to different knowledge, experience and needs, mobilizing sufficient financial and human resources, supporting family development, advocating good practices and experiences of international and local companies and organizations and families in Ulaanbaatar.

GENDER-SENSITIVE PUBLIC INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT:

The Energy Efficient Building Refurbishment in Mongolia (EEP) project goal is to improve the governance ability of Municipality in integrating energy efficiency in decision-making process. The Governance component of EEP aims to improve the Public investment management (PIM) at Municipality level through the case of rehabilitating 20 public buildings (schools and kindergarten in two districts of UB city) with energy efficient technology within the lifespan of the project implementation. The EEP is co-financed by German and Swiss government and the main implementing partner is Municipality of Ulaanbaatar (MUB).

The Public investment planning and budgeting has largely been focused on mineral development which contributes to deepening social inequality including gender disparities in labour market. The discussion on the root causes for sub-standard service delivery in Ulaanbaatar must focus, on the one hand, on the management of the public investments and, on the other hand, on governance related factors that influence PIM. Many of the shortcomings of public investment management in Mongolia arise from generally poor project preparation and budgeting, under-investment and inadequate maintenance, poor controls on construction quality, and weak operational frameworks. Unfortunately, that decisions on which building to renovate or rehabilitate are currently not based on these technical and professional assessments but taken in the local parliament, mostly according to political considerations. Local people can but wait and hope that their school or kindergarten will be renovated one day. Deliberative poll was conducted in Ulaanbaatar city, involving around 400 residents with diverse political backgrounds, including representatives from business and civil society in December 2015. The poll rated a heating project for schools and kindergartens as the city’s top priority investment project.

 

Therefore, the governance component is working towards directing public funds to utilize for much-needed investments into energy efficient public buildings by making the PIM transparent, effective and gender-sensitive.

  • EEP emphasises sender-sensitive aspects in the Public Investment Management (PIM) cycle. As it focuses on social infrastructure (as opposed to economic infrastructure like roads and bridges). One way to make the PIM gender-sensitive is to mainstream gender into the public investment management processes through introducing gender-sensitive criteria during selection and planning process of the state and city funded investment projects in education sector. EEP drafted selection criteria with gender indicators such as separate WASH facilities for girls and boys, separate clothes changing room in sport halls, safe and accessible roads for disabled children to attend schools, restrooms for teachers for breastfeeding, installment of indoor ventilation system to improve indoor air-quality for sake of healthy children, and create advantage to female-headed households for sending their children in the schools and kindergarten, select most coldest schools that have high rate of absence due to sickness.
  • In addition to the gender sensitive criteria, which is applicable only during planning stage of PIM, EEP focused on broader entry points that covers all 8 steps of PIM cycle. The Gender-responsive budgeting tool will be promoted as means to introduce gender equality in public financial management by incorporating the respective principles into all stages of the planning and budgeting process. The promoted PIM model therefore goes beyond accurate and efficient accounting but includes considerations on the social impact of fiscal policies and investment decisions. Currently, EEP is conducting a comprehensive gender-responsive budgeting assessment on budget system of Mongolia.

 

SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND HEALTH BENEFITS OF ENERGY EFFICIENT PUBLIC BUILDINGS:

EEP encourages the inclusion of women is promoted, foremost through the women-dominated parents’ councils of the schools and kindergarten. Indirectly, women benefit disproportionally, as they only can seek employment to have better livelihoods if they can be sure that their children are safe and warm during their absence. The burden originating from the sub-standard condition of schools and kindergartens falls disproportionally on women, as it is traditionally their task to provide educational support. Many women must stay at home to care for their children due to a shortage of kindergartens and child care centres, and women are more likely than men to adjust their commitments to accommodate irregular school hours. This reduces the participation of women in the labour force, and has contributed to the decline in the female labour participation rate in recent years despite better education and higher school completion rates. Consequently, more than 40% of UB’s state kindergartens and schools are more than 40 years old and characterised by over-crowded and cold class rooms, multi-shift teaching (two or three shifts per day), low quality water and sanitation, and an over-exposure to earthquake risk. Inadequate heating is a major problem given the severe winters. The majority of kindergartens and schools cannot achieve standard classroom temperatures because of poor design and maintenance. A study of classroom temperatures in 168 kindergartens buildings in UB found that some 70% had severe temperature problems, with 11% fluctuating between 5°С and 10°С, and 58% between 10°C and 20°С. Girls suffer specifically from poor sanitation and hygienic conditions as menstrual hygiene is usually ignored. Automatic lighting, thermostats for radiators as well as improved ventilation in the educational facilities will furthermore reduce the heat energy consumption and generate a modern, comfortable learning environment for children in the marginalized areas.The learning conditions for boys and girls will improve significantly resulting in reduced number of sick days especially of young kindergarten children having positive effects on their mothers’ employability. WASH-facilities are included in the works providing a safe, comfortable and hygienic environment especially targeting girls who are affected over proportional due to menstrual hygiene. Thus, the gender sensitive PIM criteria developed by EEP project will deal with solving the above mentioned problems during planning stages of PIM projects in education sector.

 

CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT:

The development of gender policy of MUB lasted over 1 year, EEP organized circa 10 working group meetings and provided trainings on basic gender equality concepts, and law of promotion of gender equality of Mongolia, National gender equality program implementation, basic gender analysis and mainstreaming to over 250 public officials. In addition to that, EEP supported MUB to organize the public hearings among 1000 public officials from 9 districts and civil society organizations active in Ulaanbaatar city to receive feedback on the gender policy paper.

Besides to the gender policy paper of MUB, EEP trained 135 (80% female) parents’ council members dominated by women from 9 rehabilitated schools and kindergartens on good school assessment tools that identifies the major problems and enables environment for parents to collaborate with school or kindergarten administration. Furthermore, EEP technical engineers provided basic trainings on EE technology and insulation of public buildings. EEP developed a construction monitoring checklist and trained the parents to monitor the construction processes to provide feedback to school management to strengthen the external monitoring capacity of citizens on public funded rehabilitation projects.

PARTNER COOPERATION:

EEP’s partner Municipality of Ulaanbaatar requested GIZ to support the development of gender equality policy. This policy support was solely based on the needs of partner organization. GIZ has become the first international organization that worked on gender policy and ensured gender mainstreaming at Municipality level. This work was appreciated by the partner and GIZ was recognized as the best gender-sensitive international organization of the Municipality.

CHALLENGES IN GENDER MAINSTREAMING AT MUNICIPALITY LEVEL:

  • Implementation of Law on Ensuring Gender Equality is not adequate, particularly in public services, where gender quota and gender balance have been regulated. For example, no woman was ever appointed as Governor of Ulaanbaatar City, or Chairpersonof the City Council, or Head of Governor’s Office. Only one woman is serving as Deputy Governor of Ulaanbaatar City in past few years. The fact that two women working as District Governors meets the law quota of 20 percent. 43.2 percent of heads of divisions and units at District Governor’s Offices are women, meeting the quota. However, women being 17.6 percent of heads of divisions and units at Ulaanbaatar City Governor’s Office does not even meet half of the quota. 28 percent and 78 percent of public service managers in Ulaanbaatar City and districts, respectively, are women. This shows that men are predominantly working at the city level, and a large number of women working at the district level, which means women tend to be employed at lower level, but men at higher levels.
  • The National Committee on Gender Equality has established subcommittee at city and district levels. However, despite these facts, there is not much progress made, for example, by Ulaanbaatar City Subcommittee on Gender Equality, which can be explained by a lack of understanding of gender issues and gender stereotype at its management level and weak interest and commitment to implement gender laws and regulations.

MAIN ACHIEVEMENTS:

  • Gender-sensitive selection criteria for Public invested rehabilitation projects in education sector was adopted city council and binding for all new rehabilitation projects.
  • EEP conducted gender situational analysis of the 9 districts at institution level, and the study covered 444 public officials from municipality.
  • Gender equality policy with an action plan that has 55 activities to improve gender inequality at city level was developed and approved by City council, which will be implemented for the next 5 years from 2020 to 2025.
  • EEP also supported the development of the two target districts (out of 9 districts in UB city) gender equality policy.
  • Gender training needs assessment of Municipalities 4500 public officials were conducted.
  • Gender-responsive budgeting comprehensive assessment is underway. Initial entry point for mainstreaming Gender into Program based Budgeting process has been identified by making budget circular of the education sector gender-responsive with gender disaggregated data from energy efficient rehabilitated schools under EEP, piloting expected to start in early March, 2020.
  • Basic gender trainings were provided to 250 public officials including 9 districts and relevant agencies and department of MUB.
  • Public hearing was held to get feedback for the gender policy finalization, with over 1000 participants out of 4500 public officials of MUB.
  • Conducted socio-economic and health study on thermo-technically retrofitted 3 public buildings under EEP in 2018.
  • Trained 135 (80% female) parents’ council members dominated by women from 9 rehabilitated schools and kindergartens on good school assessment tools and on basic understanding of insulating public buildings as well as construction monitoring checklists to ensure smooth construction work of private companies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.