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Which framework?
Gender training - four current models

As practitioners, we need frameworks and tools to operationalize gender analysis and planning and to assist in gender-sensitive project design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. But which framework, which sets of tools best suits our individual, highly specific circumstances? The following summary of current gender training frameworks and methods was developed by Helen Derbyshire for the Department for International Development's Training Review Day in 1996. The DPU text was updated by Caren Levy.

The Development Planning Unit (DPU) Framework

The DPU works with a gender policy and planning framework which aims to integrate a gender perspective into development practice. Gender relations are understood as interwoven with other power relations like class, ethnicity, religion and age in different contexts. Recognizing both the resistance and opportunities emerging from particular power relations in specific contexts, the framework puts forward a gender policy and planning process which is an interative, rather than a linear process.

An initiating component of this process is gender diagnosis. Central to this is the 'web of institutionalization', a tool developed by Caren Levy based on the DPU's work with practitioners and activists at local, national and international levels. The 'web' is used to assess how a gender perspective is currently institutionalized in the context under consideration. It identifies at least thirteen elements which are crucial to the process of institutionalization. Each element represents a site of power of social relations, and the elements relate to each other in a set of reinforcing triangles, making up the 'web'. The elements are women's and men's experience and their interpretation of reality, pressure of political constituencies, representative political structures, political commitment, policy, resources, mainstream responsibility for gender issues, procedures, methodology, research and theory-building. The diagnosis on each element and their interrelation is done using an adapted version of Caroline Moser's framework. This considers the gender roles (reproductive, productive, community managing and constituency-based politics roles), access to and control of resources, the gender needs (practical and strategic gender needs, building on Maxine Molyneux's work) and the underlying policy approaches implied in or impacted on each element. Based on this, the diagnosis of each element and their interrelation generates problems (relating to weak or no gender integration) and potentials (relating to opportunities which might offer an opening for gender integration). The final step in the preliminary gender diagnosis is to prioritize the problems and potentials so as to clarify the entry points for action.

Gender diagnosis is a continuous process and constantly interacts with another component of the gender policy and planning process, gender consultation. Using a variety of methods, gender consultation covers dialogue with women and men in communities to define their own gender needs, as well as with women and men involved in the particular organization acting in the context under consideration. Problems, potentials and their prioritization are refined in the process of this consultation.

On the basis of gender diagnosis and gender consultation, entry points for action are identified and utilized through the development of working objectives and entry strategies. These actions work towards widening the room for manoeuvre for gender integration by strengthening the process of gender diagnosis and gender consultation, as well as two further continuous components of the gender policy and planning process, organizational development and monitoring and impact assessment. Actions in these four components are continuously interacting, as the situation under consideration demands, guided by the working objectives and entry strategies. In this sense, the gender policy and planning process develops alongside the ways of operating in the organizational context under consideration, finding entry points into them and creating the conditions to make ongoing practices gender aware. In other words, the gender policy and planning process seeks to institutionalize or mainstream a gender perspective in development practice.

The Harvard framework

The Harvard framework centres on activity profiles, issues around access and control over resources and project cycle analysis. The activity profile looks at who does what, when and where. This leads to an analysis of the gender division of labour in productive and reproductive work within the household and community, disaggregated by sex, age, and other factors. The framework then explores who has access to and control over which resources, services and institutions of decision-making and to which benefits from development projects and programmes. Access refers to use rights; control, to power over decision-making. Institutions of decision-making include the household, community and interest groups.

The framework then asks us to list factors influencing activities, access and control (such as cultural beliefs, population increase, political change and environmental degradation). These show up opportunities and constraints on men's and women's participation in development. The impact of changes over time in the broader cultural and economic environment is a further feature of the analysis.

The final component of the Harvard framework is project cycle analysis. This involves examining a project proposal or area of intervention in the light of the above gender disagregated data and social change. It comprises a series of open-ended questions to the project planners relating to project identification, design, implementation and evaluation. Questions to be asked in the project identification phase include:

  • what needs/opportunities exist for increasing women's productivity and/or production?
  • what needs opportunities exist for increasing women's access to and control over resources?

The Longwe women's empowerment framework

The women's empowerment framework focuses first on women's special needs, the needs women have due to their different sexual and reproductive roles. It then explores gender issues and women's gender concerns. Gender gaps arise where the division of gender roles brings with it inequalities in the amount of work input, or in benefits received.

Gender discrimination is a key concept in this framework. Gender gaps originate and are maintained in any society by systems of gender discrimination. Discrimination against women is pervasive at the level of tradition and social practice. It is also supported by discrimination against women in official and government administrative practice, sometimes arising from discriminatory legislation. Gender discrimination means giving differential treatment to individuals on the grounds of their gender. In a patriarchal society this involves systematic and structural discrimination against women in the distribution of income, access to resources, and participation in decision-making. Gender discrimination is part of a patriarchal system of oppression, where males retain more power, and use this power to ensure women get most of the work and less of the benefits.

The women's empowerment framework aims to address gender gaps at all of the following levels with the aim of increasing equality between men and women, and increasing women's empowerment.

Welfare refers to the gender gap between women and men in their material well-being. A project confined entirely to this welfare level treats women as passive recipients of project benefits, since they are not involved in the 'higher' levels of empowerment which denote more active roles in the development process. Narrowing the gender gap in welfare is the ultimate objective in women's development, to which the process of empowerment must lead.

Access is the means or right to obtain services, products or commodities. Gender gaps in access to resources and services are a major obstacle to women's development. Women's achievement of equality of access to resources and services is a key objective for women's equality; women's mobilization to achieve equality of access is a key element in the process of empowerment.

Conscientization is the process of becoming aware of the extent to which problems arise not so much from an individual's inadequacies, but from systematic discrimination against a social group which puts all members of the group at a disadvantage. In women's development, conscientization involves the process by which women collectively analyse and understand the gender discrimination they are up against. This is the basis for action to overcome obstacles which have been holding them back.

Participation denotes having a share in decision-making. Gender equality in decision-making is one of the essential aspects of women's empowerment. Participation is concerned with collective participation in decision-making, a process integrated with conscientization. Control means the ability to direct, or to influence events so that one's own interests are protected. The women's empowerment framework recognizes this as the 'highest' aspect of women's development - where women ensure that resources and benefits are distributed so that men and women get equal shares. Whereas conscientization and participation are essential to the process of women's empowerment, it is only gender equality in control which provides the outcome.

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) social relations framework

The IDS social relations framework looks at social relations, institutions, dimensions of social relationships, interventions and needs, interests and empowerment. Social relations are defined as the way people are positioned in relation to resources and power. They include not only gender relations but also relations of class, ethnicity, nationality and religion. They vary across cultures. Social relations refer also to the resources and networks of groups and individuals. Institutions comprise four categories: state (legal, military and administrative organizations); market (firms, corporations and farming enterprises); community (village committees, patron-client relationships) and household.

The dimensions of social relationships comprise rules (official and unofficial rules, values, traditions, laws and customs); people (who is in and who is out); resources (what is used and what is produced); activities (what is done, and who does what); and power (who decides and whose interests are served).

At the level of interventions, gender neutral policies are policies which intend to leave the gender division of labour and the gender division of resources intact but attempt to target the appropriate actors to achieve certain goals. Gender-specific policies look at the existing distribution of labour and resources but intend to achieve a goal which will entail targeting one gender or the other. Gender-redistributive policies are about change and transformation, interventions designed to transform existing asymmetries and inequalities.

The social relations framework distinguishes between practical gender needs and strategic gender interests. 'Needs' tend to be defined from the top-down, as in defining and administering to needs. 'Interests' is the language of rights. We need to talk about strategic gender interests in order to remind ourselves as planners and academics to be modest about what we cannot do.

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