Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), (in French: Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques; OCDE) is an international organization of thirty countries, that accept the principles of representative democracy and a free market economy. It originated in 1948, as the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), led by Robert Marjolin, to help administer the Marshall Plan, for the reconstruction of Europe, after World War II. Later, its membership was extended to non-European states and, in 1961, it was reformed into the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development or OECD.
The OECD's structure revolves around 3 major bodies.
- The OECD member countries, each represented by a delegation led by an ambassador. Together, they form the council.
- The OECD Secretariat, led by the Secretary-General (currently Angel Gurria). The Secretariat is organised in directorates. There are some 2,500 agents in the OECD Secretariat.
- The OECD committees, one for each work area of the OECD. Committee members are subject-matter experts from member and non-member countries. The committees commission all the work on each theme (publications, task forces, conferences, and so on). The committee members then relay the conclusions to their capitals.
The OECD Secretariat is organised in Directorates:
- Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs and Local Development
- Centre for Tax Policy and Administration
- Development Co-operation Directorate
- Directorate for Education
- Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs
- Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs
- Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry
- Economics Department
- Environment Directorate
- Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate
- Statistics Directorate
- Trade and Agriculture Directorate
- General Secretariat
- Executive Directorate
- Public Affairs and Communication Directorate
- Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC)
- Development Centre
- International Transport Forum - formally known as the European Conference of Ministers of Transport
- International Energy Agency
- Nuclear Energy Agency
- Sahel and West Africa Club
- Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC)
Representatives of the 30 OECD member countries meet in specialised committees to advance ideas and review progress in specific policy areas, such as economics, trade, science, employment, education or financial markets.
There are about 200 committees, working groups and expert groups. Some 40 000 senior officials from national administrations go to OECD committee meetings each year to request, review and contribute to work undertaken by the OECD secretariat. Once they return home, they have online access to documents and can exchange information through a special network.
The OECD Gender Initiative
Recognising the importance of gender equality, the OECD has embarked on a Horizontal Project in Gender Equality in three areas key to economic opportunity: Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship.
The latest Interim Report on the Gender Initiative: Gender Equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship was presented at the 50th Anniversary Meeting of the OECD Council at the Ministerial Level in May 2011.
To find out more about the OECD Gender Initiative, please click here.
Work on Gender at the OECD
For many years, the OECD has collected separate statistics on men and women. Outcomes for men and women can vary greatly, across all areas of life. These indicators help shape OECD policy advice. OECD research looks at why gender inequalities occur, the implications of such inequalities for economic development and what can be done to develop policies for parity. The organisation believes that government policies cannot be ‘gender-blind’.
In response to an increased interest in gender issues, OECD has taken several steps to address gender both within the OECD and around the world. In 2005, OECD established an organisation-wide network on gender (OWN) as part of their diversity initiative. OWN is a staff-based program aimed at promoting gender equality and diversity within the OECD. Externally, the OECD has created a topical gender pageon their website. This page highlights some of OECD’s top research on gender, including the brochure "Women and Men in OECD Countries" and the Development Centre’s Gender, Institutions and Development Database (GID-DB). This index, based on data from 161 countries, focuses on the position of women in society. Additionally, projects by several directorates are featured, including work by the Directorate for Education, Labour and Social Affairs and the Development Co-operation Directorate.
Directorate for Education, Labour and Social Affairs
The OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs (ELS) helps member countries boost employment and improve social welfare by reforming labour markets, improving the performance of health systems and designing international migration policies that promote economic growth and development. One of their main projects has been the “Babies and Bosses” series, looking at work and family reconciliation.
Development Co-operation Directorate
The Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD) supports the work of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC). The DCD is often referred to as the DAC Secretariat because of this key function. DAC is the principal body through which the OECD deals with issues related to co-operation with developing countries. Their work in the area of gender equality is conducted primarily through the Network on Gender Equality/GENDERNET (formerly the Working Party on Gender Equality). GENDERNET is the only international forum where gender experts from development co-operation agencies meet to discuss common approaches in support of gender equality. In addition to workshops and large-scale research projects, GENDERNET publishes “Gender Equality Tipsheets.” These documents provide information on how and why gender equality is an important issue in development initiatives.
- Gender and Transport, Discussion Paper No. 2011-11, April 2011, by Chantal Duchène