How can we improve our approach to gender in our international development work?

How can we improve our approach to gender in our international development work?

Why should gender play a leading role in international development? Why is gender-sensitivity and gender-responsiveness important across programme design, implementation and evaluation? 

The fight for gender equality has been underway for decades, and despite some important progress towards the millennium development goal on gender equality and the empowerment of women, in June 2019, the new SDG Gender Index Report announced that “no country in the world is on track to achieve gender equality by 2030”.  

Women constitute the majority the world’s poor. Over 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men and 49 countries still lack laws protecting women from domestic violence. 

What is gender-responsive programming and how can it help to achieve gender equality? 

A gender-responsive programme is one which intentionally puts gender at the forefront of design, implementation, and results of programmes and policies. Gender-responsive programmes reflect the needs of women and girls and are systematically integrated into every step of the project cycle - from defining the problem and identifying practical solutions, to directing the methodology, during budgeting, and throughout the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) process. Gender-responsive programming is part of the wider gender-mainstreaming approach, where gender equality is central to all activities, including policy development, research, advocacy, legislation, and resource allocation. UN Women define gender mainstreaming as:  

“The process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in any area and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and social spheres.” 

In international projects, it is imperative to ensure that programmes are both implemented with a gender-sensitive lens and systematically co-created with the communities in which these projects are taking place.  

What practical steps can we take as international development organisations towards gender equality?  

  1. Learn from our peers.  Ahead of the Alliance 2019 Conference, there will be a range of blog posts written by Alliance members on the member blogs section of our website written under the theme of gender justice. There are four posts there already on themes ranging from female leaders in humanitarian crises to intersectionality and inequality.  

  1. Attend a training workshop. The Alliance is holding a workshop on Inclusive and Gender-Sensitive Programming on 4 September, focusing primarily on Scottish Government grantees and the improvements they can make to their grant implementation and reporting. 

  1. Attend the Alliance Conference which this year focuses on the Putting Gender Front and Centre. Panel discussions will address topics including ‘Untangling intersectionality in programme design’ and ‘Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls through humanitarian action’.  

  1. Reflect on how we speak and communicate about gender. You can learn more about how to talk about gender by watching this Devex Webinar or reading this UNICEF guide to gender-responsive communication for development

  1. Discuss your ideas about how to improve our approach to gender. Join in the conversation by commenting on the Annual Conference: Putting Gender Front and Centre thread over on the Alliance Community.