Since Caroline Moser developed the Framework for a Gender and Development (GAD) approach to development planning in the 1980s while working at the Development Planning Unit (DPU) of the University of London, there has been a proliferation of gender analysis tools and toolkits in agricultural projects is becoming the norm rather than the exception. The Moser Framework set the parameters for gender analysis through its focus on women’s strategic and practical gender needs. While there was criticism of certain elements of the framework, especially its focus on roles and not relationships, the framework did set a stage for addressing women’s practical needs, those that if met, help women in current activities and strategic needs which, if met, transform the balance of power between men and women.
The evolution of other frameworks and tools over the years has tended to focus on gender analysis, which while important in understanding gender inequalities is not sufficient to address these inequalities. More recent approaches have focused on gender transformation, with a strong emphasis on getting men and women to examine gender relations, question gender norms and take actions to address these.
How can agricultural programs strike a balance between analysis, implementation of practical interventions that make a difference in the lives of men and women and the relationships between them, and transform gender relations?
Five key things that I have found to work:
Conduct a targeted gender analysis: Rather than a general gender analysis, start with a targeted gender analysis that focuses on a specific sector of interest while at the same time digging deeper into the underlying causes of inequalities. One of the mistakes that agricultural programs make is to (a) either conduct a general gender analysis that does not help identify some of the practical gender needs, or (2) a very targeted gender analysis that does not dig deeper into the underlying causes of gender inequalities and therefore ignores the strategic gender needs and interests. A good balance between these two is essential.
Use the analysis to identify two sets of interventions: short term and long term interventions that address issues unearthed during the analysis. Avoid random implementation of gender interventions and processes as these may not be addressing the real issues. The whole point of doing the analysis should be to use this analysis to inform what you do.
Ensure the team has awareness, skills and the right attitudes to implement interventions. Additional partnerships and specialised skills in gender and women’s empowerment may be required. It is essential that there is a critical mass of people working towards implementation of these interventions otherwise having one or two gender specialists in a team is not adequate. All team members need to be trained on basic issues especially those addressing the practical gender needs.
Measure, measure, measure! What does not get measured, does not get done. Include sex disaggregated data in baseline analysis studies, define gender outcomes and indicators to track them, combine qualitative and quantitative tools to capture both process and outcomes, reflect on progress and adjust strategies. Identify research questions that broaden and deepen the evidence base on what works and does not work, why and why not for gender and women’s empowerment.
Plan and allocate enough resources for gender interventions and research and not just the analysis. This ensures gender is not an add on but a critical aspect of the program, project or initiative and that it does not end at analysis.