Gender mainstreaming

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“In no area of international development is the gap between stated intentions and operational reality as wide as it is in the promotion of equality between women and men".


Development policies could exert a different impact on women than men. Without integrating gender perspectives into national and international policies, even a development programme can end up widening the gender gap and aggravating women’s hardships.

The UN Economic and Social Council in 1997 defined Gender mainstreaming as “a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the policies and programs in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated".


It is a process “of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, so that the gender perspective could be an “integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programs”. It concerns all areas - political, economic and social areas, and at all levels - including institutions, in agenda setting, policy making, planning, implementation and evaluation.

Its objective is to "ensure that women as well as men can influence, participate in and benefit from development efforts" .The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality.

A historical review

Policy approaches to women’s involvement in development have gradually evolved from welfare to empowerment: welfare, anti-poverty, efficiency, equity and empowerment.

From the post-war era until the early 1970s

“Women were seen as passive beneficiaries of aid, not as agents of development. the welfare approach was dominant which focused on their reproductive responsibilities as wives, mothers and homemakers, and aimed to relieve suffering and meet women’s practical needs within existing gender roles. And “typical programs included famine relief, nutrition, hygiene, and family planning.

From 1970s to 1990s

The women in development (WID) movement began to emerge in the early 1970s , and it explicitly called for “social justice and political equality for women, improved education and employment opportunities, and increased health and welfare services. WID saw women, “ not as needy beneficiaries sequestered in the domestic realm, but productive members of society, active contributors to the economy, and an untapped resource in the overall development process.One of the strongest messages to come out of the WID movement is that“development was not working for women; in fact, it had been bad for many of them.” The WID approach argued for “women’s inclusion in mainstream development processes based on what women could give to development rather than vice versa, or even how women themselves might define development.” WID thus aimed at creating “space and provided impetus (as well as modest resources) for innovative strategies that put productive resources, such as revolving loan funds and micro-lending, into the hands of women.” The WID approach however, “left out the critical issues of power, conflict and relationships that are at the root of women’s subordination” .

From 1990s to present

The gender in development (GID) approach began to take hold in the early 1990s, This approach articulates that “if the development mainstream is blind to the differences in the contributions, roles, and needs of different population groups, then clearly, mainstream decisions, policies, actions and resource allocations will fail to reach the excluded or disadvantaged groups, including the half of humanity that is female” .The term GID has now covered a range of approaches to “equality between men and women and its implications for women and development", and “ the different gender approaches share a focus on the analysis of the different roles of men and women and their respective access to and control over resources and decision-making”.

Two of the main GID approaches are:

  1. the “gender roles” framework developed by the Harvard Institute for International Development and USAID, which emphasizes “women’s individual access to and control over resources within the family and their productive contributions to the household, which provide the rationale for allocating resources to them; and
  2. the “social relations analysis,” which is associated with the work of the Institute for Development Studies at Sussex, “looks not just at gender, but also at other forms of social differentiation – class, ethnicity, race, age, and caste, and for them ending women’s subordination is viewed as more than a matter of reallocating economic resources. It involves redistributing power.”

Gender Mainstreaming in Practice

The ten steps correspond to the “life cycle” of a policy or a project, providing us with practical guidelines and advice for translating this theory of gender mainstreaming. The Ten Steps for Gender Mainstreaming include:

  1. A Mainstreaming Approach to Stakeholders: Who are the Decision-Makers?
  2. Mainstreaming a Gender Agenda: What is the Issue?
  3. Moving Towards Gender Equality: What is the Goal?
  4. Mapping the Situation: What Information Do We Have?
  5. Refining the Issue: Research and Analysis
  6. Deciding on a Course of Action: Designing Policy Interventions and Budgets
  7. Arguing Your Case: Gender Matters!
  8. Monitoring: Keeping a (Gender-Sensitive) Eye on Things
  9. Evaluation: How Did We Do?
  10. En-Gendering Communication

UN Gender Score Card to mainstream Gender Equality

UNCT Performance Indicators for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment


  • Gender Mainstreaming in Practice, publication of UNDP Transforming the mainstream, Gender in UNDP, publication of United Nations Development Program
  • ECOSOC Resolution (E
  • Caroline Moser, Gender Planning and Development: Theory, Practice and Training. Routledge, London, 1993.
  • Shahrashoub Razavi and Carol Miller, From WID to GAD: Conceptual Shift in the Women and Development Discourse, UNRISD and UNDP 1995.
  • Anderson, Mary. 1990.“Women on the Agenda: UNIFEM’s Experience in Mainstreaming with Women 1985-1990.”Monograph. pp. 27

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