3. Strategic planning for gender equality policy in Colombia

Strategic planning is a powerful tool for implementing a government’s gender equality policy, by providing a systematic, structured and co-ordinated approach to its aims. Strategic plans that incorporate gender equality considerations can support governments in their efforts to close gender gaps by setting a clear rationale and defining priorities, timelines, objectives, targets and expected outcomes on gender equality. To be effective, the strategic plan must reflect the needs of different groups in society. It also requires collective commitment and ownership by all governmental actors (OECD, 2018[1]), to integrate gender equality objectives at governmental, ministerial and programmatic levels. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been increasingly recognised that pro-active and effective government action is needed and that integrating a gender perspective in strategic planning can help close systemic gender gaps.

The OECD recommends adopting a dual approach, combining clear gender equality goals, supported by a strategic framework, with gender objectives and considerations integrated into government strategies in such areas as national development, environmental protection, transport, etc. Gender-sensitive decision making that engages the whole of government, including all policy sectors and branches of government, can help move the gender equality agenda forward (OECD, 2021[2]). If gender-related goals are not fully integrated into government action and reflected in other broader country strategic documents, they risk being marginalised and insufficiently implemented (OECD, 2018[1]).

Various factors determine the effectiveness of strategic planning for gender equality policy (OECD, 2017[3]):

  • a clear vision for gender equality anchored in key government documents;

  • an assessment of where the government stands on its goals for gender equality and which interventions are needed to achieve its vision;

  • a results-oriented strategic plan to achieve the gender equality vision endorsed by senior leadership, and developed in consultation with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders.

All 30 respondents to the 2021 OECD Survey on Gender Mainstreaming and Governance, including Colombia, have an active strategic framework dedicated to gender equality, either in the form of an overarching strategy (27 respondents) or of a strategy for specific gender equality issues (3 respondents) (OECD, forthcoming[4]). Box 3.1 offers some examples of strategic frameworks for gender equality in OECD countries.

The following Sections review Colombia’s approach to strategic planning for the gender equality policy at national and subnational levels, including through gender mainstreaming. They assess the alignment of objectives established in the national policy on gender equality with the National Development Plan, while analysing the extent of the participation of relevant stakeholders in strategic planning, as well as the framework for implementation and monitoring of gender-related objectives. They also provide an overview of the strategic planning and implementation systems in selected subnational governments. Actionable policy recommendations are proposed to tackle existing challenges and support the government in strengthening its strategic frameworks for gender equality.

Colombia has made important strides in anchoring a medium-term vision for women’s equality in key government documents. Since 2003, a legal requirement (under Law 823) has committed the national government to adopt “gender criteria in policies, decisions, and actions in national and decentralised public agencies” as well as to adopt administrative measures and instruments required for its implementation. To promote gender equality, the National Public Policy on Gender Equality was recently renewed, and gender-related considerations have been incorporated into the National Development Plan and, to some extent, in sector-specific strategic planning.

In 2012, the national Government adopted the Guidelines for the Gender Equality National Public Policy, which set a ten-year framework for the national public policy of gender equity for women and for eradicating violence against women in Colombia until end of 2022. On this basis, the National Policy on Gender Equality (CONPES 161)1 was approved in 2013, including a three-year Action Plan that remained in force until 2016.

CONPES 161 has seven main objectives, including:

  • eliminating practices that reproduce and reinforce violence and intolerance against women, with the goal of building a peaceful and democratic society;

  • providing opportunities to promote economic autonomy, access to land, housing, financing of production, technical assistance and training;

  • promoting women’s participation in decision-making positions;

  • strengthening the gender perspective in the health system, to improve access to and the quality of sexual and reproductive health services for women;

  • promoting pedagogical practices that mainstream the gender approach in the education sector and incorporate the gender variable in their institutional processes;

  • launching a comprehensive plan to guarantee women’s right to a life free of violence;

  • promoting the adoption of gender mainstreaming by all public entities.

More recently, Colombia formulated the second phase of the national gender equality policy for women, approved in April 2022, which sets out a vision and objectives to be achieved by 2030 (Box 3.2).

In addition to the National Public Policy on Gender Equality, Colombia has taken steps in the past few years to integrate gender considerations in other key strategic documents of the government. The National Development Plan 2018-2022 (NDP), presented in 2018, included for the first time a dedicated chapter on women’s rights called “Pact for Women’s Equality”. The NDP has legality, equality, and entrepreneurship and productivity as its main pillars, developed as structural Pacts (Pactos Estructurales). The Pact for Women’s Equality is instead cross-cutting (Pacto Transversal) and based on three dimensions: the economic dimension (overcoming poverty, the care economy, inequality in the workplace); the political dimension (women in positions of power and decision making); and on the dimension of physical integrity (violence and sexual and reproductive rights). Its main objectives or policy lines are:

  • strengthening the gender institutional framework for women in Colombia;

  • promoting education and economic empowerment to eliminate gender gaps at work;

  • committing to articulation and co-responsibility in the care economy;

  • encouraging women’s political participation;

  • promoting sexual and reproductive rights;

  • guaranteeing women’s right to a life free of violence;

  • empowering rural women as agents of transformation;

  • ensuring equity for women in peace building.

Under these broad objectives, the NDP includes specific targets, such as “reducing to 16.7% the monthly income gap average between men and women” and “reducing to 15.2% the percentage of pregnancy in adolescents” (Departamento Nacional de Planeación, 2018[8]).

OECD interviews with key stakeholders have shown that the existence of this dedicated chapter as a core part of the NDP has increased the visibility of gender equality objectives. It has also given the National Planning Department (DNP) greater influence on government entities in implementing gender-related commitments and targets.

The NDP 2018-2022 requires the CPEM to develop a second phase of the National Policy on Gender Equality for Women. To ensure continuity with CONPES 161 of 2013 and to incorporate the latest developments (e.g. the current National Development Plan and its Pact for Women’s Equality) and recently identified needs and challenges of women in Colombia (e.g. rural women’s needs and women’s main challenges after the COVID-19 pandemic), the national government issued a new CONPES on gender equality while drafting this Review, as explained in Box 3.2 above.

At the time of the publication of this report, the national government just approved the National Development Plan 2023-2026 including a specific chapter on women and integrating a gender approach throughout its other pillars.

Having a national public policy on gender equality (CONPES 161 and CONPES 4080), supported by the Pact for Women’s Equality as part of the NDP, added a number of advantages. The objectives set out in those documents are generally aligned. The CPEM (in charge of co-ordinating CONPES 161) and the DNP (which co-ordinates the NDP) have worked closely over the years to ensure alignment in implementing these objectives. These documents have also complemented each other: the 2012 Guidelines for the Gender Equality National Public Policy (valid for ten years), allowed for continuity in gender equality objectives over various administrations, while the Pact for Women’s Equality has helped align gender equality objectives with government priorities in the most recent presidential mandate. The NDP and its Pact for Women’s Equality has been enacted as law, although CONPES 161 and 4080 have not. The NDP also has assigned resources for its implementation, while CONPES 161 and 4080 have no budget of their own but include only an indication of the funds needed for the execution of their Action Plans, to be provided by each government institution involved in the implementation of the gender equality policy.

As explained above, Law 823 of 2003 requires the government to consider “gender criteria in policies, decisions, and actions in national and decentralised public agencies’’ as well as to adopt the administrative measures and instruments required for its implementation. CONPES 161 defines gender mainstreaming as the integration of a gender approach in all policies and programmes of government institutions, but also as designing policies and targeted actions to close gender gaps. Similarly, CONPES 4080 recognises gender equality approaches as key tools which help understand and overcome structural gender inequalities, by supporting the development of transversal actions to tackle existing gaps.

In the past few years, Colombia’s gender mainstreaming approach has focused on targeted actions to eliminate gender discrimination and gender gaps in certain areas, rather than mainstreaming gender in the design, development, implementation and evaluation of all public policies and budgets.

The OECD finds that all 20 public entities interviewed showed some level of awareness of gender mainstreaming and a willingness to promote gender equality in their decision-making sphere. This can be attributed to the active engagement of the CPEM under the Vice Presidency and the DNP, as well as to the strong political will expressed in the NDP 2018-2022 and to the existence of a gender policy, both of which highlight the cross-cutting nature of a gender-based agenda as a shared responsibility for the whole of government. This atmosphere of awareness and willingness is an important foundation for Colombia’s gender mainstreaming efforts.

Under Law 823 of 2003 (Article 4), the national government, to adopt gender-based policies and strengthen the institutions managing their implementation, is charged with adopting administrative measures giving responsible institutions adequate tools to implement policies, and to promote the use of gender indicators in gathering statistics. The OECD, however, finds that in practice line ministries do not have a standard approach toward implementing this article, and gender equality objectives remain isolated. An evaluation of CONPES 161 in 2016 by the Inter-sectoral Co-ordination Commission for the Implementation of the National Gender Equity Public Policy also noted challenges in reflecting national gender equality objectives in line ministries’ mission, routine strategic planning and operations (Proyectamos Colombia, 2016[9]).

In future, gender equality objectives laid out under the national gender equality policy, the NDP 2018-2022 and future plans should be systematically translated into ministerial and departmental strategic plans, adequately resourced, and linked to staff performance indicators (including those for senior managers).

Different ministries and levels of government have varying perceptions of the goals of gender mainstreaming. For example, gender analysis does not appear to play a part in the policy-making process. Some entities reported to the OECD during the fact-finding mission that more co-ordination is necessary between the NDP, the Public Policies for Gender Equality and institutional/sectoral actions.

The CPEM and the DNP have already taken steps to support line ministries in this respect, for example issuing the Guide for the Inclusion of the Gender Approach in the Planning Cycle of Public Policies (see Box 3.3).

The OECD has identified a good practice used by the Ministry of Energy, which could be scaled at the national level. In 2019, the Ministry conducted consultations on gender equality in the mining and energy sector, then designed gender-based guidelines for the sector to support strategic planning and budgeting. As a result, the Ministry launched the guidelines in 2020, and with the private sector, drafted a Sectorial Action Plan, as well as an Action Plan regarding the Equipares Seal (Plan Acción Equipares). Both plans include indicators, short-, medium- and long-term objectives, activities, results and follow-up mechanisms. The Ministry also recently began a sectoral study with a wide range of stakeholders from the sector and representatives from civil society, academia and government at national and subnational levels, to conduct a full analysis of the situation of women in the mining and energy sector, as noted in Chapter 5.

Intersectionality refers to the understanding that the multiple aspects of individuals’ identities intersect and combine in a way that exposes them to different, often overlapping forms of exclusion or discrimination. Intersectional analysis allows for an enhanced awareness of the significant diversity between individuals who make up any given population or group in policy making. It is increasingly recognised as a strategy for addressing gender inequalities.

In OECD countries, in particular since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been increasingly acknowledged that an intersectional approach can enhance awareness of the significant diversity between individuals who make up any given population or group in policy making for holistic gender equality (OECD, forthcoming[4]).

Colombian stakeholders interviewed by the OECD reported that it is challenging to use an intersectional approach to design policies to improve women’s lives and close gender gaps, given the difficulties in identifying the specific characteristics and needs of a given population. This can be due, they said, to the lack of disaggregated data or the absence of an inclusive approach. In any case, without an intersectional approach, discrimination faced by certain groups (such as women with disabilities) risks being overlooked.

Governmental stakeholders also reported including a group of diverse women in the CONPES and NDP’s consultative processes. An intersectional approach was particularly evident in the participatory process with non-governmental stakeholders in developing CONPES 4080, for which 662 women from across the country were consulted. This group included representatives of different ethnic groups, women living in rural areas and urban areas, women from the LGBT community and women with disabilities. The government also promoted an intersectional approach in drafting CONPES 4080, considering targeted studies on specific populations (i.e. studies on the LGBT community) and by considering development of other CONPES and policies for specific populations (i.e. CONPES for children and adolescents, now under way).

As recognised by the 2017 OECD Recommendation on Open Government, stakeholder participation increases government accountability, broadens citizens’ empowerment and influence on decisions, builds civic capacity, improves the evidence base for policy making, reduces implementation costs, and taps wider networks for innovation in policy making and service delivery (OECD, 2017[10]). In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, and facing pressing new global challenges, building constructive public debate and engagement is fundamental to gain buy-in from citizens and stakeholders on urgent policy decisions (OECD, 2022[11]). This in turn helps increase trust in government, fight mis- and dis-information and reinforce democracy.

Colombia has a legal framework for involving non-governmental stakeholders in the policy process. The Statutory Law on Citizen Participation (Law 1757 of 20152) stands out as a good practice (OECD, 2019[12]). However, while consultation at the early stages of the design of the Departmental Development Plans (DDPs) has become common practice, in the evaluation phase active engagement of stakeholders, including citizens, NGOs and representatives of the private sector and the media is less common (OECD, 2019[12]).

In fact, Colombia has made progress by implementing different mechanisms to guarantee the participation of all relevant stakeholders in the policy cycle. However, this progress is largely concentrated in early stages in communicating the overall gender vision. Further effort could be made to incorporate these mechanisms in the DDPs and local gender policies and to include a strategic planning lens.

Alongside the development of the 2012 Guidelines for the Gender Equality National Public Policy, a Support Group (Grupo de Apoyo) was created, including representatives from the national government and from women’s organisations, to achieve a consultative process.

Thanks to this participation, the making of CONPES 161 involved a wide range of non-governmental stakeholders. This process was also adopted for the mid-term evaluation of CONPES 161. At this stage, the government heard from a significant number of women and women’s organisations that they were not aware of the CONPES. Respondents also reported that few women leaders had participated in its design and that those who did knew little of its adoption and implementation. The report concluded that while some key women’s organisations had taken part in the process, the participation of smaller and local ones was limited. It also found that the limited knowledge of the CONPES among women’s organisations might be due to institutional weakness on the part of the institutions in charge of promoting and implementing this gender policy (Proyectamos Colombia, 2017[13]). Box 3.4 describes the consultation processes the government established in setting up the new national gender equality policy.

CONPES are policy documents designed to strengthen inter-sectoral collaboration among line ministries. This requires articulation, co-ordination and prioritisation of commonly identified goals.

CONPES 161 and 4080, like every other document of this kind, have been produced by the Superior Council on Economic and Social Policy – the Executive Branch’s Cabinet Committee on economic and social policy led by the president, in which all ministries have a seat. As shown in Chapter 4, CONPES also includes (with the right to vote) the vice president, the director of the Administrative Department of the Presidency and the director of the DNP.

Although CONPES documents take a national approach, the government distributes them at a subnational level when that is considered necessary. This was the case for CONPES 161, which was disseminated by the CPEM at a subnational level after its adoption, according to stakeholders interviewed.

Regarding the NDP 2018-2022, according to Articles 240 and 241 of the Constitution, the National Planning Council (composed of representatives, elected by the president, of subnational institutions, as well as of representatives from the economic, social, ecological, community and cultural sectors) is in charge of leading discussions for the making of the NDP. Subnational governments should also adopt Local Planning Councils, which, together with the National Planning Council, compose the National Planning System. Furthermore, subnational governments, as well as line ministries (including the DNP) and the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, should also participate actively in the making of the NDP.

The national government used several participatory mechanisms to disseminate the content of the NDP, including the Pact for Women’s Equality. They included the National Planning Council (Law 152 of 1994), a space for social dialogue constituted by representatives of civil society (at local, regional and national levels), where members help formulate, monitor and evaluate policies for the NDP and exercise citizen control over public management.

The NDP’s consultation with ethnic communities has to be conducted through the process of Prior Consultation,3 since the NDP is enacted as a law. Both the government and the Congress must ensure that laws and decrees are accepted by its many diverse communities (through Prior Consultation) before they are implemented, and must also obtain the consent of these communities. Laws or decrees require the Constitutional Court to conduct prior consultation with Roma, Black, Afro-Colombian, Raizal and Palenquero people and Indigenous communities to be deemed constitutional.

Governments have finite resources, so to achieve the impact intended, gender equality objectives must have the backing of robust analyses detailing where a country stands on gender equality, based on various indicators (OECD, 2017[3]). This can be done through the stakeholder consultations discussed above and also through the collection and analysis of data, evidence and research. A 2016 study led by the CPEM focused on the existing institutional arrangement for gender mainstreaming and the incorporation of the gender approach in planning and budget processes. It showed that of 32 departments, 11 (44%) reported not having diagnoses on gender inequality, 16 (50%) reported inclusion of this base information and 5 (16%) did not specify whether gendered frameworks were used (Proyectamos Colombia, 2016[9]).

At the local level, governments carry out needs assessments in an inclusive consultation process including both governmental and external stakeholders. No standards for this are in place, however, and each department develops the process according to its own considerations, based on the principle of subnational governments’ autonomy.

Both the CONPES 161 of 2013 and the NDP provide a situation analysis/needs assessment. For the design of CONPES 161, a consultation process was carried out by the government (based on the Support Group’s recommendations), from March 2011 to August 2012, with more than 2 000 women across the country. Primary information was collected at these meetings on issues that affect women, and proposals were made to address them. Based on this input and on the analysis of secondary information (mainly provided by the National Statistics Office, DANE), the government drafted an assessment that the CPEM used to draft the first version of the gender policy. It was then sent for feedback to the different national entities that would be held accountable for its implementation (Alta Consejería Presidencial para la Equidad de la Mujer, 2012[14]).

To develop the NDP, the DNP gathered gender-based administrative records from various public entities and other secondary information (mainly provided by the DANE). This information was built into an analysis of the current situation of women in Colombia in the Bases of the Development Plan (Bases del Plan Nacional de Desarrollo).

Moving forward, these developments should be backed up with stronger, co-ordinated information systems, as well as by unified indicators to create a situation analysis. The aim would be to help identify evidence-based priorities and progress tracking in gender equality. The government has taken a first step in this direction by producing unified, gender-based indicators, which are reportedly being used to build an analysis of women’s situation in Colombia in the design of the new CONPES 2023-2030 (Box 3.5).

The CONPES 161 Action Plan (2013-2016) and the more recent National Development Plan 2018-2022 assign roles and responsibilities to national entities (including line Ministries). This makes it possible for actions developed by these institutions to respond to a common purpose, while being framed within clear action lines. There is thus a clear link between the Action Plan of CONPES 161 and the effectiveness of programmes and projects implemented by national entities (Proyectamos Colombia, 2016[9]). However, roles and responsibilities were not specified at the institutional and individual staff level in the CONPES 161 Action Plan. This issue has been addressed in the CONPES 4080 Action Plan, where specific institutions are clearly assigned to each action and the institutions responsible for follow-up and reporting on the progress of each activity to the SisCONPES (Box 3.6) are also clearly identified.

CONPES 161 establishes a set of objectives, while its Action Plan specifies the scope and main actions needed to achieve them. However, these objectives are mainly not supported by baseline indicators and clear targets for gauging progress in gender equality outcomes.

The Colombian government has made an effort to create follow-up/monitoring mechanisms for implementing the CONPES (e.g., its Action Plan), such as the SisCONPES system and the Control Panel (Tablero de Control) for national entities involved in the implementation of the gender policy (Box 3.6). Although they are not binding, these follow-up mechanisms have been an improvement. In 2017, entities reported facing difficulties in incorporating them into the SisCONPES and thus, reporting to them relatively infrequently (Proyectamos Colombia, 2017[13]). Still, stakeholders interviewed in 2021-2022 reported to the OECD that these technical limitations were resolved.

Given that these mechanisms follow up on the CONPES’ Action Plan, their effectiveness could also be compromised when the Action Plan runs on a shorter time frame than the policy. This was the case with CONPES 161 Action Plan, which ended in 2016 and was not extended, while the policy continued to be implemented.

Another monitoring mechanism is to be implemented when the regulations for the creation of the National System for Women are approved by the national government. This was created by the NDP 2018-2022, to monitor implementation of the gender policy. This system is also called to disseminate the policy at a subnational level.

The inclusion of the Pact for Women’s Equality in the National Development Plan 2018-22 has allowed the Pact to include baseline and target indicators, a requirement that applies to all chapters of the NDP. According to the DNP, SINERGIA4 has proven to be a key tool for overseeing the progress of gender indicators for the National Development Plan, not only in terms of its compliance but also in terms of the activities carried out by the responsible entities. In interviews, however, stakeholders reported challenges in negotiating indicators with the national institutions responsible for implementing gender objectives and activities in the NDP. As a result, there are not enough indicators at present to measure every gender-based activity in the NDP, and some indicators used in SINERGIA are not the correct type of indicator, complicating monitoring of certain activities in the NDP.

As with CONPES 161, the renewed National Public Policy on Gender Equality (CONPES 4080) has very few indicators linked to specific targets to gauge progress in gender equality outcomes over time. The majority of the indicators included in its Action Plan allow to evaluate the level of implementation of specific strategies and programmes.

At the subnational level, the DNP’s national monitoring and evaluation system, SINERGIA, has a specific evaluation tool for information on objectives formulated in the National Development Plan that have a local impact (SINERGIA Territorial). The information and data collected with SINERGIA Territorial is used to inform departments. It also provides some guiding principles for monitoring to help departments monitor their planning instruments, and in particular, their department development plans (OECD, 2019[12]). However, despite these efforts (including the creation of toolkits to improve monitoring processes in departments and municipalities, as highlighted in Box 3.9), most departments monitor outputs (i.e. whether a planned bridge was built), while monitoring of outcomes is limited (i.e. whether the capacity-building activity implemented resulted in better conditions for women in a given area). More importantly, few departments currently have evaluation capacity (OECD, 2019[12]). This could hinder the monitoring and evaluation at a subnational level of activities included in local development plans designed to closing gender gaps, as well as the effective integration of a gender dimension in local policies and programmes.

The cross-cutting Pact for Women’s Equality has benefited from being a core pillar of the NDP and from its legal requirement to reflect NDP goals in departments’ strategic planning. Under the Organic Law of the Development Plan (Law 152 of 1994), National, Departmental and Municipal Development Plans are to be designed for a four-year period. Co-ordination is among the principles of this Law, according to which "the planning authorities of the national and subnational order must guarantee that there is due harmony and coherence between the activities they carry out within them and in relation to the other local entities for the purposes of formulating, executing and evaluating their development plans”. Planning processes for women’s equality, at a national and at a local level, should thus be articulated and linked to the guidelines of CONPES 161 (Proyectamos Colombia, 2016[9]).

Planning at the department level is regulated by law. Departments are key actors in charge of implementing local strategies codified in planning instruments such as Departmental Development Plans. Several vertical and horizontal co-ordination mechanisms (Contratos Plan, Agreements for Prosperity, Association of Departments) allow departments to co-ordinate their planning objectives with those of the national government (OECD, 2019[12]).

As for incorporating gender provisions of the NDP in the Departmental Development Plans (2020-2023), subnational stakeholders reported during the OECD fact-finding mission that Departmental Development Plans (DDPs) are usually aligned with the NDP and that gender provisions have effectively been incorporated in the latest DDPs.

In 2020, the CPEM carried out an analysis to verify that goals, programmes and projects for improving the quality of life of women had been incorporated in the DDPs. To achieve this, the CPEM used several criteria, such as whether the NDP’s gender provisions had been incorporated in the DDPs, as well as the international standards, national laws and international commitments on gender equality. According to this report, all Departmental Development Plans (2020-2023) included a series of goals, programmes and projects designed to close gender gaps, some with specific budgets. However, limited information is available on the implementation of these provisions (CPEM, n.d.[15]). As mentioned in an earlier Section of this Chapter, the DNP has also introduced a mechanism to monitor implementation of gender provisions in DDPs (through SINERGIA Territorial) encountering certain limitations on the monitoring of outputs. Going forward, an assessment of the implementation of DDPs could help measure the impact of gender policies at a local level.

CONPES 161, as a policy document with a national approach, does not establish direct responsibilities for departments (Gobernaciones). After it was disseminated to stakeholders, most departments created their own gender policies with the support of the CPEM, through guidance documents and capacity-building activities (OECD, 2020[16]). A number of examples are illustrated in Box 3.7 and Box 3.8. However, no follow-up has been carried out on their implementation. Reported challenges, such as limited institutional capacity and human and financial resources, uneven political will to promote gender equality, and limited co-ordination between departments and the national government, have hampered implementation of subnational gender policies and the anchoring of whole-of-government gender equality vision at the subnational level.

Departments interviewed by the OECD (Huila and Boyacá) showed awareness of the importance of gender mainstreaming. This could be attributed to the active engagement of the CPEM and of the National Planning Department with subnational entities, but also to the participatory process during the preparation of the DDPs.

At a local level, Community Councils (Law 70 of 1993) for Black communities, as well as the District Consultative Commissions, are mechanisms to enable participation in the design and implementation of local plans and policies (mostly regarding land issues). Furthermore, the National Planning Council (Law 152 of 1994) is a space for social dialogue constituted by representatives of civil society (at local, regional and national levels) to intervene in the formulation, monitoring and evaluation of policies regarding the NDP and exercising citizen control over public management.

Colombia has made progress in adopting mechanisms to strengthen vertical co-ordination between the national and departmental governments and to align planning processes at every level of government. Departments surveyed by the OECD reported that they had received support from the national government in the form of training, guides and funds for projects related to Departmental Development Plans, including those on gender equality. This has contributed to more effective implementation of local development plans and is granted throughout the different phases of their DDPs, mostly through guides like the DNP’s KiTerritorial and Following-up Kit. The DNP also assisted subnational governments in creating development plans with a virtual platform, Portal Territorial. This platform follows good practices for Municipal or Departmental Development Plans and tools to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Although this information includes gender-based data, it is not easily accessible and is not regularly updated (OECD, 2021[17]).

As for capacity building, the departments surveyed reported receiving periodic training from the DNP on how to use the planning tools mentioned above. However, as the OECD has noted in the past, training activities should take into account the differences in resources and capacity between subnational governments if they are to be effective (OECD, 2021[17]).

As noted, the national government has also moved forward on instituting and disseminating the gender policy. As a result, most departments in the county created their own gender policies with the support of the CPEM (through guidance documents and capacity-building activities).

Overall, to enhance coherence in national and subnational gender mainstreaming policies towards a whole-of-government strategy, Colombia’s departments have taken significant steps to strengthen capacity at an institutional level, and to include at least one person in every Gobernación in charge of gender affairs. Departments have also improved their governance practices and strengthened their administrative capacity for strategic planning, including improving their information systems, encouraging citizen participation in their planning processes and linking development plans to a monitoring strategy (SINERGIA). The national government has thus helped support departments to align planning processes. Challenges remain, however, in ensuring unified and pertinent indicators and needs assessments at the local level, as well as anchoring the gender-based departmental vision in strategic planning and consolidating strategic planning processes based on results.

CONPES 161, CONPES 4080 and the NDP have a clear focus and provide direction for both the public sector and citizens. They also include co-ordinated and well-defined gender objectives. There is a general and increasing awareness in Colombia of gender equality and the mainstreaming strategy in governmental institutions both at the national and subnational levels.

However, challenges are likely to emerge as a result of the weak objectives and indicators for measuring these outcomes. The NDP, with its cross-cutting Pact for Women’s Equality, the CONPES 161 and the CONPES 4080 all include indicators. However, the CONPES 161 and the CONPES 4080 have few indicators linked to specific targets to gauge progress in gender equality outcomes over time, and no resources are assigned for their implementation. This reduces the measures’ effectiveness and also their monitoring and evaluation, which is already limited at the national level and even more so at a subnational level. Indicators and strategic planning logic are also missing in line ministries and economic sectors. There is a bottleneck in translating the whole-of-government gender equality objectives to ministerial plans to outline how ministries can help achieve them.

The NDP has baseline and target indicators overseen by SINERGIA, which has proven to be an efficient tool. These indicators, however, are not aligned with those of the Colombian Observatory of Women (OCM). Indicators in the NDP do not measure every gender-based objective and activity in the Plan and some indicators, by nature, are not appropriate for measuring certain activities. At a subnational level, gender-based indicators are not always aligned with the national government’s, and although they are measured through SINERGIA Territorial, most departments monitor outputs and not outcomes. Evaluation capacity, meanwhile, is still mostly absent in most departments.

Improvements are needed to assess clearly where the government stands on its gender equality goals and on which interventions are necessary to achieve its vision and build a results-oriented strategic plan.

  • To strengthen implementation of Article 3 and Article 4 of Law 823 on gender mainstreaming, the National Planning Department (DNP) and the Presidential Council for Women’s Equality (CPEM), in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, could consider developing protocols/processes, standard methodology and guidance that can be applied to the law-making, regulatory and policy cycle. This guidance would be a complementary tool for the budget tracer, with the goal of achieving gender equality objectives through all decision-making levers. This guidance document could be an integral part of the new National Policy on Gender Equality (CONPES) document, establishing a renewed public policy for gender equality or any future policy in this area. The guidance should clarify the objectives of gender mainstreaming as a strategy for achieving national gender equality objectives (see the next Section on strategic planning), setting standards and methodologies, as well as clarifying the expectations for the national and subnational governments to implement Articles 3 and 4 of Law 823.

  • The guidance should also consider, as appropriate, the development of methodologies for the analysis of all public policies from a gender perspective. Such guiding documents can also guide the CPEM in executing its annual reporting requirement to the Congress in compliance with the provisions of the Law 823. While this is already done in the area of tagging the spending decisions (see the Section on gender budgeting in Chapter 5), there is room to expand it to decision making in the design and implementation of laws and public policies.

  • Ensure sufficient mandates and capacity of the stakeholders tasked with monitoring the whole-of-government compliance with Articles 3 and 4 of Law 823. The aspect of resources and capacities is further explored in Chapter 4.

  • In preparing any future policy in the area of gender equality, consider identifying a set of high-level and result-oriented goals that policy makers can focus on as the authoritative frame of reference for policy action, prioritisation of resources and accountability.

  • To underpin its implementation, ensure that the future gender equality strategy outlines clear objectives and targets in relation to the high-level priorities, and that it clearly identifies roles, responsibilities, resources and lines of accountability for the whole of government, ideally accompanied by a data strategy. The Action Plan for the CONPES, where all this is considered, should also have the same time frame as the policy.

  • Consider establishing requirements from line ministries to develop gender mainstreaming action plans, with a view to achieving gender equality objectives as defined by the current or any future public policy on gender (as set out in CONPES 161 and 4080 and in the NDP), and to regularly report to the CPEM and the DNP (e.g. through monitoring surveys) on progress. Such requirements can also facilitate and feed into the annual reporting requirement to the Congress, complementing the gender budget tracer.

  • Strengthen the evidence base for gender-sensitive policy making, by enhancing the use of statistical data in designing, planning, implementing and delivering public policies and services, including in areas not explicitly linked to gender equality.

  • Consider scaling up the Ministry of Energy’s good practice by conducting sectoral studies to gather gender-based data and to communicate the gender policy vision, as well as to build sectoral or ministerial strategic plans with a gender focus.

  • Consider developing a homogeneous set of indicators across government institutions to track and assess progress in closing gender gaps, as identified through high-level goals. Having a set of robust indicators regularly updated and aligned with the objectives of the country’s gender policy and national development plan would allow for better evaluation of their efficiency and effectiveness, as well as make it easier to track and assess results. Consider greater alignment between the indicators developed by the Colombian Observatory of Women and indicators used as part of SINERGIA to facilitate results-based management in gender equality policy. Enhancing cross-silo co-ordination, as well as co-ordination with the DNP, relevant national line ministries and the DANE (National Statistics Department) on indicator work is essential.

  • Consider strengthening co-ordination between the central, departmental and municipal levels of government on strategic planning, including by creating additional fora for exchange and policy dialogue.

  • Provide additional capacity-building and knowledge-sharing support for the planning process in departmental governments, including in monitoring and evaluation, while taking into account the differences in subnational governments’ resources and capacities.

  • Consider strengthening the CPEM in human and financial resources to implement a strategy for following up on the implementation and impact of the national gender equality policy at a subnational level. An assessment of the implementation of DDPs would be desirable, to measure the impact of gender policies at the local level.

  • Consider assessing the use of the information portals, to determine the demand from central entities and their use in strategic planning and decision making at the local level.


[14] Alta Consejería Presidencial para la Equidad de la Mujer (2012), Lineamientos de la Política Pública Nacional de Equidad de Género para las Mujeres, Alta Consejería Presidencial para la Equidad de la Mujer, Bogotá, http://www.equidadmujer.gov.co/Documents/Lineamientos-politica-publica-equidad-de-genero.pdf.

[7] CONPES (2022), Política Pública de Equidad de Género para las Mujeres: Hacia el Desarrollo Sostenible del País (Public Policy on Gender Equality for Women: Towards the Sustainable Development of the Country), Consejo Nacional de Política Económica y Social (National Council of Economic and Social Policy, Department of National Planning), Government of Colombia, Bogotá, https://colaboracion.dnp.gov.co/CDT/Conpes/Econ%C3%B3micos/4080.pdf.

[15] CPEM (n.d.), Documento de Análisis de los Planes de Desarrollo Departamentales 2020-2023.

[8] Departamento Nacional de Planeación (2018), Plan Nacional de Desarrollo 2018-2022: Pacto por Colombia, Pacto por la equidad, Departamento Nacional de Planeación, https://colaboracion.dnp.gov.co/CDT/Prensa/Resumen-PND2018-2022-final.pdf.

[11] OECD (2022), Background Note and Draft Action Plan on Participation and Representation for the Meeting of the Public Governance Committee (PGC) at Ministerial level on “Building Trust and Reinforcing Democracy”, https://one.oecd.org/document/GOV/PGC(2021)21/REV1/en/pdf.

[17] OECD (2021), Hacia un sistema sólido de monitoreo y evaluación en los gobiernos sub-nacionales de Colombia. Principales conclusiones de los talleres y compendio de buenas prácticas, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://www.oecd.org/gov/colombia-principales-conclusiones-de-los-talleres.pdf.

[2] OECD (2021), Policy Framework on Gender-sensitive Public Governance, https://www.oecd.org/mcm/Policy-Framework-for-Gender-Sensitive-Public-Governance.pdf.

[18] OECD (2021), Practical Tools for Strengthening the Monitoring and Evaluation System at the Sub-National Level, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://www.oecd.org/gov/colombia-toolkit-en-def.pdf.

[16] OECD (2020), Gender Equality in Colombia: Access to Justice and Politics at the Local Level, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/b956ef57-en.

[12] OECD (2019), OECD Public Governance Scan - Colombia, https://www.oecd.org/gov/Colombia-Scan-Final-English.pdf.

[1] OECD (2018), OECD Toolkit on Mainstreaming and Implementing Gender Equality, OECD, https://www.oecd.org/gov/toolkit-for-mainstreaming-and-implementing-gender-equality.pdf.

[10] OECD (2017), Recommendation of the Council on Open Government, https://legalinstruments.oecd.org/en/instruments/OECD-LEGAL-0438.

[3] OECD (2017), “Toolkit for Gender Equality in Governance: Implementing the 2015 OECD Recommendation on Gender Equality in Public Life”, http://www.oecd.org/gov/Toolkit-for-gender-%20equality-in-governance-FINAL.PDF (accessed on 10 January 2018).

[4] OECD (forthcoming), 2022 Survey on Gender Budgeting.

[5] Office of the Government of the Czech Republic (2021), Gender Equality Strategy for 2021-2030, https://www.vlada.cz/assets/ppov/gcfge/Gender-Equality-Strategy-2021-2030.pdf.

[13] Proyectamos Colombia (2017), Evaluación institucional y de resultados con enfoque participativo de la Política de Equidad de Género para las Mujeres, de acuerdo con lo previsto en el CONPES 161 de 2013, http://www.equidadmujer.gov.co/ejes/Documents/Evaluacion-Equidad_de_Genero-Conpes_161.pdf.

[9] Proyectamos Colombia (2016), Respuesta Institucional en la Implementación de Estrategias para la Transversalización del Enfoque de Género (Institutional response regarding the implementation of gender mainstreaming strategies), http://www.equidadmujer.gov.co/oag/Documents/propuesta-transversalizacion-genero.pdf.

[6] The White House (2021), National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/National-Strategy-on-Gender-Equity-and-Equality.pdf.


← 1. CONPES documents (so-called because they are approved by the National Council on Economic and Social Policy, the Executive Branch’s Cabinet Committee on economic and social policy, on which all ministries have a seat) are an expression of intent on government policy and are not formal legal instruments.

← 2. The objective of Law 1757 is to promote, protect and ensure the different modalities and mechanisms of citizens’ right to participate in the political, administrative, economic, social and cultural spheres in Colombia. Article 2 stipulates that any development plan must include specific measures aimed at promoting participation of all people in decisions that affect them and support the different forms of organisation of society. Similarly, the management plans of public institutions should explicitly propose the way in which they will facilitate and promote the participation of citizens in their areas of responsibility. The law also created the National Council for Citizen Participation to advise the national government on defining, developing, designing, monitoring and evaluating public policy on citizen participation in Colombia. This law also defines participatory budget practices as a process for ensuring equitable, rational, efficient, effective and transparent allocation of public resources that strengthens the relationship between the state and civil society.

← 3. Prior consultation is a fundamental right (Law 21 of 1991) enshrined in the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169 on Indigenous and tribal peoples. This right enables ethnic groups to decide on measures (legislative and administrative) or projects, works and activities conducted in their territories. It seeks to protect the cultural, social and economic integrity of ethnic groups and give them the right to participate in the decision-making process when they are located in the area of influence of any governmental project, work, activity or legislative or administrative measure, subject to consultation under the law.

← 4. The 1991 constitution establishes the obligation to monitor and evaluate national policies, and the DNP has created a monitoring and evaluation system for key national policies and programmes called SINERGIA. This system, led by the DNP, provides performance information on whether and how public policy objectives are being attained. Through SINERGIA, citizens can also follow up on the government’s performance, helping to build trust in government.

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