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By Sahar Alnouri and Yeva Avakyan

On March 4, 2019, Save the Children hosted the Gender Practitioners Collaborative in an event celebrating the second anniversary of the release of the Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality. At the event, CEOs from Plan International, FHI 360, Banyan Global, and Save the Children US celebrated the successes of the standards and reflected on next steps.

The Gender Standards address programmatic topics, such as indicators, data disaggregation, Do No Harm principles, and the use of gender analysis. They also tackle issues pertaining to organizational processes, such as accountability, budgeting, internal capacity, and shifting organizational culture to achieve sustainable change. This dual perspective was echoed by Yeva Avakyan in her opening remarks, stating: “We need a comprehensive approach that cuts across programmatic and organizational areas of our work” to advance gender equality.

During the first panel, titled “Leading the Charge for Gender Equality,”  the four CEOs discussed both the programmatic and organizational components of achieving gender equality. Carolyn Miles, of Save the Children US, and Tessie San Martin, of Plan International USA, focused on gender equality in their organizations’ programming. Miles stated that achieving breakthroughs for children is not possible “if we do not address gender inequality.” San Martin reinforced this statement, saying: “We’re not seeking to just improve. We want to transform. And we don’t think we’re going to transform until we get to the root causes of gender inequality.”

Patrick Fine, of FHI 360, noted that the Gender Standards have helped to encourage accountability at his organization. He said endorsing the standards has affected how FHI 360 allocates resources within the organization, such as investing in employee training. Meaghan Smith, of Banyan Global, discussed how data from gender analyses can provide an important opportunity for field staff to have conversations on the Gender Standards in a culturally relevant way.

The Gender Standards were not developed by one organization, or funded by a single donor. They were conceived and drafted by the Gender Practitioners’ Collaborative (GPC), a working group made up of gender specialists from US-based humanitarian response and development agencies who lead gender integration in their organizations. After drafting the Gender Standards, the GPC invited practitioners from around the world to review and provide comments; almost two hundred practitioners offered feedback on the standards before they were finalized.

In addition to the CEO panel, lead gender technical specialists from the US Department of State, Mercy Corps, Chemonics, ACDI/VOCA and IRC reflected on the way forward.  Several of the gender technical leads noted the importance and challenges of maintaining accountability for gender mainstreaming within their organizations. Jenn Williamson of ACDI/VOCA said that the Gender Standards have provided a good framework to reflect on and continuously strengthen her organization’s work to promote gender equality.

While the event celebrated the uptake of the gender standards – from nine endorsing organizations in 2017 to 35 today – both panels acknowledged the need for continued work to achieve gender equality within organizations and programs. As Kelly Fish from Mercy Corps said, “We cannot move the needle on gender equality in our programming if we are not ‘walking the talk’ and looking internally at both our operations and policies.”

If you missed the live stream, you can still watch the recording here

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On June 11, 2018, FHI 360 and other sponsoring organizations hosted the third annual Gender 360 Summit in Washington, DC. This year’s theme was “Positive Boy and Girl Development,” with sessions that explored the intersections of education, health, economic empowerment and gender-based violence among girls, boys, and youth of diverse gender identities. A recording of the livestream and resources from the Gender 360 Summit are available here.

Members of the Gender Practitioners Collaborative (GPC) attended the Summit and participated in activities ranging from facilitating Gender Lounge table discussions, speed mentoring, moderating fireside chats, and presenting on the Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality. Below are a series of reflections and takeaways on key themes from the Summit written by members of the GPC.

Expanding “Gender” to Include Youth
Elizabeth Silva, Senior Program Officer, Women’s Empowerment Program, The Asia Foundation

The theme of positive girl and boy development for the 2018 Gender 360 Summit was a critical topic. Panels explored the intersections of gender issues and health, education, economic empowerment and gender-based violence among girls, boys, and youth of diverse gender identities. Over the past few years we have seen an increased commitment among donors and development organizations in elevating and responding to gender issues among girls and boys. The U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls is one such positive development, as it has drawn additional resources and attention to the fact that around the world, girls are often not provided with the same opportunities as boys, and that adolescence is such a critical point in their lives. This presents the unique opportunity to intervene and change the trajectory of their lives.

I had the privilege of serving as a facilitator for a gender lounge roundtable discussion about girl-focused gender analysis, which spotlights the specific challenges facing girls. Boys play an important role in this analysis as well, since they are central in examining and comparing the different levels of power, needs, constraints, and opportunities facing girls. Two key issues the conversation centered around included: 1) All gender analyses should (but rarely seem to) consider the roles, norms, opportunities and project impacts related to girls and boys; and 2) There are not enough quality gender analyses being conducted for youth programs, which too often remain gender blind. While much work remains, the Gender 360 Summit theme was very timely, and is an example of thought leadership on gender equality work with girls’ and boys’ that will move the development community forward on this important issue.

“Walking the Talk” on Inclusion
Jennifer Collins-Foley, Senior Advisor, Inclusive Development, World Learning

The Summit organizers are to be commended for their proactive attention to integrating gender and social inclusion throughout the format, speakers and participants. Examples include: attendees were asked at registration if they need special accommodations; sign language interpreters were present throughout the sessions; and the event was livestreamed, making it accessible to those who could not participate in person. The organizers clearly prioritized diversity among the speakers, particularly voices from the Global South, resulting in discussions where each speaker provided a unique perspective. Discussions consistently moved beyond the gender binary, exploring how gender and social inclusion analysis and approaches can strengthen development outcomes.

A session on “Cutting Edge Resources” offered participants a valuable new tool to expand the gender analysis lens and embrace the imperative of social inclusion. The Transforming Agency, Access and Power (TAAP) Toolkit and Guide for Inclusive Development provides a new approach to inclusive research and development. This toolkit offers an analytical framework and practical resources to enable users to identify who is left behind, reasons why and how it impacts agency, access and power, and offers guidance for the development of action steps toward inclusive, positive social change.

The Gender Summit 2018 has set a new, high standard for applying the principles of inclusion and set a model that we hope more conferences – and organizations – will follow.

Inclusive Partnerships Are Necessary for Sustainable Change
Hilary Mathews, Director for Strategy and Operations, Gender Justice Team, CARE USA

One of the “principles in action” that was represented so well at the Gender 360 Summit was the idea that social change processes require broad-based partnerships. Realizing gender equality and positive girl and boy development depends on change on multiple levels – within individuals, in communities, and throughout social and institutional structures. This is complex and political work, and we know we can’t confront and dismantle the forces of inequality and exclusion without collaborating across a diverse set of actors, each according to their competencies.

The Summit brought together an impressive array of development stakeholders as speakers and participants, representing INGOs, governments, civil society groups, activists, multilaterals, and academia. The value of and need for collective action was captured not only in this diverse representation, but also in discussion throughout the day, and in the forthcoming Gender 360 Summit outcomes statement, which will reflect critical synergies and a common advocacy platform issuing from the proceedings.

Beyond Gender Norms, Uncovering Power Dynamics
Dina Scippa, Senior Technical Advisor, Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality, Winrock

Even though gender inequality remains one of development’s most intractable issues, it is a profoundly exciting time in the global movement for equality. From the most recent G7 meetings where a Gender Equality Committee was formed; to sustained focus on gender within the SDGs; to thousands who have come forward to protest sexual harassment and violence with the #MeToo global movement, important conversations are happening globally. Development organizations, donors, companies, academic institutions, and the private sector are discussing how to support gender equality more meaningfully and deliver on commitments. But is it enough? Gender inequalities intersect with other aspects of oppression, which result in unique constellations of experience, impact and opportunity affected not just by gender, but race, sexuality, ability, caste, marital status, and citizenship (to name a few).

The Gender 360 Summit played a critical role in convening experts from a diverse range of sectors on key issues in addressing gender equality and social inclusion, with an acute appreciation of how intertwined, and intersectional, inequality is. What was abundantly clear at this year’s conference is how fundamental it is to leverage different sub-sets of expertise to address the interplay between gender and interconnected forms of discrimination. Improving opportunities for women and girls requires a fundamental change in societal norms, attitudes, and power. Looking through the lens of intersectionality is ever more critical to understanding the complexity—particularly of inequality—in the lives of women and girls. To promote effective and sustainable progress, experiences and identities of women and girls cannot be reduced to a single reality or prioritized at the expense of others, leaving other elements invisible and unaddressed.

Inclusive Mentorship and Peer Learning
Jenn Williamson, Senior Director of Gender and Social Inclusion, ACDI/VOCA

Like many conferences, a valuable aspect of the Gender 360 Summit is the opportunity for networking and learning exchange among colleagues. These opportunities are particularly important for young women who are less likely to receive advice from managers and senior leaders on how to advance and have less access to mentoring opportunities. I was delighted to participate in a “speed mentoring” session that gave me the opportunity to engage with talented and dedicated young people who are already achieving great things and are eager to learn how to grow their potential, their skills, and their opportunities. Mentoring and working with these young professionals not only benefits them, but it strengthens our organizations as they bring innovative ideas and new perspectives to our teams, organizations, and approaches. Furthermore, as we hope to better engage youth in our programming, we must improve this in our own organizations through mentoring and other ways that enable them to own processes and grow.

During one of the rounds, a woman joined my group who would be classified as a mid-career professional. She began her career in her home country in West Africa, transferring to DC headquarters not long ago. She tentatively joined my group, asking, “Am I too old to ask for a mentor?” It struck me how important it is that we not only mentor young people but that we also continue to ensure access to this important professional development resource for people of all ages, genders, and social identities. Because the Gender 360 Summit deliberately brought together people of different genders, ages, sexual identities, nationalities, and physical abilities and openly emphasized inclusion and accessibility, the conference facilitated learning and sharing as well as networking opportunities that are frequently not available to people in marginalized groups. This opportunity for learning and networking is particularly important for people in marginalized groups who have had less access to mentoring and career support throughout their professional careers. So, of course my answer was and will continue to be: “You’re never too old or young to seek a mentor!” It is important that we seek and offer mentoring—and peer learning—inclusively. Mentors and mentees will all benefit from expanded opportunities to share experiences and gain new perspectives in our professional development.

If you have a story to share about how your organization is promoting gender equality, inclusion,  or positive boy and girl development using the #GenderStandards, please reach out to us on Twitter @GenderPC or via email info@genderstandards.org. This blog was compiled by Jenn Williamson.

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Asia Foundation staff in Bangladesh participate in an interactive session during a three-day gender training. The training aims to build staff capacity and organizational culture to advance gender equality in its programs.

More than a year after the Gender Practitioners’ Collaborative launched the minimum standards for mainstreaming gender equality, 29 organizations are now official endorsers. In order to learn more about how endorsing organizations are mainstreaming gender equality and advancing their organizations’ commitment to the minimum standards, we asked them a series of questions. A few selected answers are below.

1. What was the process for creating your organization’s Gender Equality Policy (or equivalent) and how did you build buy-in?

Helen Keller International developed a global policy for gender equality and social inclusion. An internal working group, comprising members from both programs and operations teams across each region (Asia-Pacific, Africa and US), was set up to draft the Policy. Following review and inputs from Directors, it is now pending Board Approval prior to being made official.

2. How does your organization build gender mainstreaming culture and capacity? What does it do at headquarters and the project level?

IREX created a Gender Focal Point (GFP) program in 2017 to diffuse expertise on gender integration throughout all practice areas and business units. Interested staff from HQ and field offices were invited to apply for an 8-month program of training, mentoring and applied learning opportunities. The GFP Program builds a knowledge base of foundational gender concepts that is reinforced with special attention to IREX’s technical areas. At the same time, IREX has continued to offer less formal opportunities to build skills and knowledge through monthly Gender Salons, featuring staff, partners and other external experts on gender-related topics voted upon by staff through a biannual poll.

The Asia Foundation has a Gender Smart Initiative, which works to advance gender equality both institutionally and programmatically. Through the initiative, The Asia Foundation designed an interactive training curriculum for our staff, which includes an introduction to gender, an exploration of the relationship between gender and development, and concrete steps to promote gender equality in the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of programs. Through small group discussions and hands-on practice in applying a variety of gender analysis tools, the highly participatory training builds staff capacity to understand and respond to gender issues and norms and to take steps to improve project outcomes. To-date, more than 250 staff have participated in the training.

3. What is your organization’s approach to doing gender analyses? How does it use gender analysis to help inform project design and implementation?

International Executive Service Corps (IESC) has made a commitment to conduct a gender analysis for every proposal they submit, regardless of donor requirement. They customized a USAID gender analysis template to help them determine how women, men, boys, and girls are affected differently by project activities and design interventions that will result in positive outcomes for both women and men. The process of conducting a gender analysis at the proposal stage results in gender integration throughout project implementation and a commitment to allocate project resources for both women and men beneficiaries. Since 2017 IESC has conducted a gender analysis for 100% of proposals submitted to USAID.

MEDA conducts gender analysis in three phases of the project lifecycle. The first phase is during the initial scoping of potential projects. They conduct gender aware desk research and interview local constituents, which feeds into our planning and development of interventions. The second phase is a full gender analysis, which is conducted during our inception period. Here, we build off the initial scoping gender analysis by meeting with potential clients to understand their needs and barriers, and meet with local women’s organizations and public and private sector partners to ensure that they are committed to gender equality. From the full gender analysis, we develop our gender strategy for the project, which identifies gender-based constraints of our potential clients and their enabling environment.  The third phase of gender analysis is during any project assessment. We either try to mainstream gender into existing assessments or conduct gender-specific assessments to gauge how the project’s interventions are impacting relations and structures of our clients. From this information, we can pivot and introduce new activities to mitigate the challenges facing our male and female clients in our project.

4. What is your organization’s approach to developing, collecting, analyzing and reporting on gender equality measures or indicators?

Pact tracks indicators that go beyond just sex disaggregation, but that also measure gender equality and social inclusion. Nearly every project includes this type of measure. Having explicit metrics to track our work toward gender equality and social inclusion ensures our work does not lose sight of this goal and that all activities and outputs contribute to this outcome. We also place gender equality and social inclusion learning questions into project learning agendas that guide research and M&E under the program. Nearly all planned studies have a gender equality and social inclusion line of inquiry integrated into research and learning plans. Data from these studies are used to inform our programs so that we are able to adapt and improve our performance.

5. What is your organization’s approach to intersectionality, or to addressing both issues of gender equality AND social inclusion?

Equilo takes a comprehensive view to provide data analysis exploring intersectionality. Through our customized gender analysis framework, we apply a gender lens across population types at micro and meso levels. Our database and algorithms address gender-based violence, male engagement, disability status, age, LGBTQI status, ethnic and religious minorities, HIV status, orphan status, working and migratory status, poverty, and vulnerable populations.

6. What systems of gender equality accountability does your organization have in place?

Palladium has developed a Diversity and Inclusion Strategy to hold ourselves accountable to our diversity commitments and our organizational vision. Our progress on the implementation of the Diversity and Inclusion strategy and associated initiatives is shared with our employees on a quarterly basis and directly to the Board of Directors. Our approach and commitment to diversity and inclusion is driven by our CEO, corporate leadership team, strategic leadership team, and a Community of Practice with over 800 employees.  We hold all our people responsible for helping to create a diverse and inclusive working environment.

Thank you to all the endorsing organizations who contributed to this post! If you have a story to share about how your organization is implementing the #GenderStandards, please reach out to us on Twitter @GenderPC or via email info@genderstandards.org. This blog was compiled by  Elizabeth Romanoff Silva, Elise Young, and Lindsey Jones-Renaud. 

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This article from Palladium was first posted on their website. Palladium is one of the newest endorsers of the #GenderStandards. Check out their work here.

Palladium’s work starts at a single point: understanding how everything is interconnected. In order to create new thinking, new approaches, and new solutions, we have to consider the broader context of any community or system. We encourage our clients and partners to think about key actors, dynamics, linkages, and gaps, including gender. Yet, what we often find is that gender is under resourced, despite being a key component of any ecosystem. Gender is one of those dynamics that affects every individual, in every aspect of life. That’s why Palladium is proud to announce our official endorsement of the Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality.

The Gender Standards are set out by the Gender Practitioner Collaborative, and contain eight standards every endorser strives to meet:

  • Adopt a Gender Equality Policy
  • Develop Organizational Culture and Capacity for Gender Equality
  • Conduct and Utilize Gender Analysis
  • Allocate Budget Resource for Gender Equality
  • Utilize Sex- and Age- Disaggregated Data
  • Develop Gender Equality Indicators
  • Do No Harm
  • Ensure Accountability

Business as Usual
For Palladium, it’s easy to endorse these standards, having long been a champion of health, human rights, and economic empowerment for society’s most marginalised and vulnerable people. Similarly, and as a fundamental part of how we do business, we strive to create an inclusive culture where differences are both recognised and valued wherever we operate in the world and across every part of our work. We bring together individuals from diverse backgrounds and give each individual the opportunity to contribute their skills, experience, and perspectives. Our goal is to not just assess how gender is impacted across our projects, but to also work with our clients and partners to support, understand, and even demand exemplar diversity and inclusion practices.

Gender in Health
Palladium has strong experience implementing programmes that promote gender equality and social inclusion. Within our global Health Policy Plus project we include gender in family planning, sexual reproductive health, and HIV work. For example, we designed and implemented a sensitisation curriculum and trained over 4,000 staff from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and their implementing partners in 40 countries on gender and sexual diversity. In Pakistan, we cultivated male champions for family planning within the government, civil society, and health professionals in order to reduce barriers and expand access to family planning services and programmes for women and men.

Gender in Agriculture
In Ghana, we’re galvanizing agricultural investment opportunities by connecting  investors with opportunities and linking smallholder farmers to finance. In general, closing these critical gaps in a supply chain creates profits for investors, stable livelihoods for farmers, and reduces food insecurity, but we also look at how gender is impacted. In this particular case, forty percent of the farmers impacted are women. Our work looks at how women support their families and access finance so we can continually customise our interventions.

Gender within Palladium
As an organisation that is committed to making the world a better place, we strive to ensure that the right conditions are in place so that every person is able to achieve their full potential. We continually push ourselves to be leaders in how we approach gender; adapt our work to be as inclusive as possible; and continually look for improvements. For the past three years we have taken our approach to diversity and inclusion within our projects and ambitiously incorporated it across our organisation, reaching the highest levels of leadership. We don’t just include “gender” into a few sentences of proposals, but have our own internal working groups, a Chief Diversity Officer, and a community of practice with over 800 employees. We measure our own recruitment and pay by gender, have created a global Diversity and Inclusion training course for all employees, as well as regularly share ideas, best practices, and examples of successes. In short, at Palladium we are ‘walking the walk’ within our own organisation to incorporate a gender lens because we know it’s good for our employees, it’s good for business, and it’s good for our clients and partners.

The Only Way
Having a gender advisor isn’t enough. Putting a few gender words in our proposals isn’t enough. Ticking boxes on a list isn’t enough. We’re striving to incorporate gender into everything we do, from our senior leadership down into our work within communities, because it’s the only way to fully understand the challenges that our partners, clients, and those we work with need to solve. Endorsing the International Gender Standards is just one more way we’re holding ourselves accountable.

This article was written by Palladium’s Sara Pappa, Elisabeth Rottach, and Ryan Olson. 

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