Mainstreaming or malestreaming? Gender@work in organisations

Date: April 11, 2012
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This note concerns a learning group discussion on gender mainstreaming in DFID partner organisations led by Gender Links (GL), a Southern African PPA and GTF grantee (see list of grantees for both at Annex A). GL leads the gender subÀ“group within the inclusion learning group of the PPA. On 24 April 2012 the DFID GTF fund will be having a learning group meeting in Johannesburg on Civil Society in Fragile States at the GL Cottages (a GL meeting and training facility). Following a desire expressed by the PPA learning group a) to broaden the learning circle and b) to host some learning events outside London, GL proposed two cyber dialogues and one meeting on this topic on the evening of Tuesday 24 April, after the DFID GTF learning meeting. The cyber dialogues allow participation from all parts of the globe (see instructions for joining at Annex B), while the event in Southern Africa is a unique opportunity for DFID partner organisations present in Johannesburg at that time, as well as country offices of London-based organisations, to participate in a learning discussion. The Gender and Media Diversity Centre (GMDC), a GL partnership project that hosts regular dialogues on topical issues, is facilitating the discussion. GL will be inviting some of the organisations that we engage with on gender mainstreaming to join the discussion. We hope that all DFID partners will feel free to do the same!

Key dates





Friday 13 April

12 noon SA 10 am UK À“ 1 hour

Approaches to gender mainstreaming

Cyber dialogues

Friday 20 April

12 noon SA 10 am UK À“ 1 hour

Sharing tools and successes

Cyber dialogues

Tuesday 24 April

17.30 for 18.00 À“ to 19.30

Mainstreaming or malestreaming: Gender@work in organisations

GL Cottages, 30 Gill Street, Johannesburg.

(Please note that this is a dynamic and flexible process. We will assess what further engagements and inputs may be required after this initial process.)


Gender is a cross cutting issue that concerns all development organisations and CSO’s. Within the DFID this concern is reflected in a number of ways. For example:

  • PPA Annual report: Disaggregated results À“ Grantees are required todescribe how evidence is disaggregated by gender and age. We are also interested in other variables applicable to your organisation’s work e.g. disability and other excluded groups.”
  • PPA À“ Evaluation strategy Coffey International Development :The Evaluation Strategy “recognises the importance of taking a ‘gendered perspective’ to understanding poverty and interventions designed to address it. All evaluation activities should be sensitive to gender and its bearing on design, implementation, performance of interventions and the results achieved by grantees.”
  • GTF: Annual report guidelines: Gender, social exclusion and governance: Questions to be answered include:
    o Which intervention strategies are most influential in breaking down barriers
    o to marginalised and discriminated voices being heard by government and
    o other power interests at different levels?
    o What contribution has your programme made towards increasing the voice
    o of marginalised groups? (GTF Guidelines).
  • Macro evaluation of DFID for which terms of reference are being discussed:These cover two important DFID policy areas: empowerment and accountability (E&A) and the Strategic Vision for Girls and Women.

Approaches to gender

Since gender came onto the development with the First World Conference on Women in Mexico in 1975 several different approaches have evolved:

Women in development (WID)

  • A WID approach seeks to integrate women into the existing development programmes, but without transforming unequal gender relationships. It does not question the relation of gender inequality and therefore tends to address the symptoms rather than the causes of gender inequality.
  • Early WID projects tended to view women as passive beneficiaries, and often focused on isolated women-only projects or peripheral activities. No gender analysis was done to ensure that WID activities would meet the real needs of women involved, or that the activities would be accepted by men who were not consulted.

Women and development (WAD)

  • A WAD approach focuses on achieving more efficient and effective development through the integration of women into existing development processes. It recognises that women have always been economic actors and emphasises structural change of the global political economy, but does not address the linkage between patriarchy and economic exploitation.
  • WAD strategies usually added women’s projects or project components to complement mainstream development programmes. Such projects were geared towards increasing women’s income and productivity, such as through incoming-generating projects.

Gender and Development (GAD)

  • The GAD approach to development looks at the unequal relations between the rich and the poor, the advantaged and the disadvantaged and the additional inequalities that women face in these contexts. It recognises that women, poor people and other disadvantaged groups are the victims of social structures that prevent equitable development. The ultimate goal of a GAD approach is to create equitable and sustainable development with women and men as equal decision-makers. A GAD approach takes into account the different practical and strategic needs of women and men at all stages of a project cycle.

Basic needs and the MDG’s

The Millennium Development Goals comprise a set of globally agreed minimal standards to be achieved by 2015. Although MDG 3 concerns gender equality, the indicators focus narrowly on women’s education and political participation, excluding many areas that perpetuate gender inequality such as legal and constitutional rights, sexual and reproductive rights, gender-based violence etc.

Women’s rights

In recent times,many women’s organisations have become critical of the gender mainstreaming approach that has resulted in funding cuts for their work on the grounds that gender is being mainstreamed: sometimes with questionable results. They argue that mainstreaming has diluted the focus on the violation of women’s rights, and have chosen to focus on this, as a key and necessary component to achieving gender mainstreaming.

Men and boys

This is also a relatively new area of work, but growing in strength, funding and momentum. This approach argues that gender equality cannot be achieved unless the attitudes of boys and men change, and they are enlisted as partners. While this approach has generally been welcomed, it has also been criticised as being “flavour of the month” among donors and eclipsing the concerns of the women’s rights lobby.

It is important to state that none of these approaches are mutually exclusive; many organisations employ or are experimenting with a combination of strategies.

DFID Approach:Strategic Vision for Girls and Women

The UK has put the empowerment of girls and women at the heart of international development. DFID’s Strategic Vision for Girls and Women, launched in March 2011, identifies four priority pillars for action to deliver real change for girls and women:

Pillar 1: Delay first pregnancy and support safe childbirth

Pillar 2: Get economic assets directly to girls and women

Pillar 3: Get girls through secondary school

Pillar 4: Prevent violence against girls and women

Achieving results across these 4 pillars also depends on improvements in the enabling environment À“ i.e. theattitudes, behaviours, social norms, statutory and customary laws and policies which constrain the lives of adolescent girls and women, and perpetuate their exclusion and poverty.

Key questions

Some key questions identified in preliminary discussions of this Learning Group include:

  • Approaches:What is your theory of change with regard to gender and what approaches are you taking – women’s rights; women and girls; gender mainstreaming; boys and men etc. If you are using a combination of approaches, why, when, where, and what has worked?
  • Tools and methods used: Can we share tools and methods that we have used and found to be useful?
  • Case studies of what has worked: Please share examples of successes and failures.What have you learned in the process? How are you applying this?


  • Learning paper on gender mainstreaming within DFID partner organisations.
  • Sharing of useful tools and insights.
  • Comments on the macro evaluation TOR.


  • Improved methods, tools and practise.
  • Building our evidence base of what works and what does not where DFID is looking for more evidence (e.g. women’s movements’ impact, political participation, enabling environment, behavioural change etc).
  • Demonstrating the distinctive contribution of civil society in this area.


Saeanna Chingamuka on or 27 82 229 2337.







Anti-Slavery International


ADD International

Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD)


Article 19

Centre for Governance and Development (CGD)


Asia Foundation

Christian Aid


Avocats Sans Frontiers

Commonwealth Business Council (CBC)


British Red Cross

Conciliation Resources



Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA)


Care International UK

Gender Links (GL)



Global Development Network (GDN)


Christian Aid

Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GNP+)


Conciliation Resources

Global Witness


Development Initiatives



Ethical Trading Initative (ETI)

International Budget Partnership


Farm Africa,

International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPFWHR)



IUCN – The World Conservation Union


Gender links

Journalists for Human Rights (JHR)



Living Earth Foundation


International Alert

Ma’an Network


International HIV/AIDS Aliance

National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH)


International Restless Development

National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (NICRO)


Islamic Relief

Overseas Development Institute (ODI)


Malaria Consortium

Oxfam Great Britain



Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies (PHILSSA)


Marie Stopes International



Norwegian Refugee Council

Relief International



Search for Common Ground (SFCG)


Penal Reform International

The BBC World Service Trust


People in Aid

The Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF)



The Resilience Centre – Cranfield University


Practical action

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)



The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum



Tiri – Making Integrity Work


Save the Children

Transparency International Secretariat



UCL Centre for International Health and Development (CIHD)


Transparency International



Water Aid

Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD)


Womankind Worldwide

Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network (ZWRCN)


World Vision UK





Joining the Gender Links Cyberdialogues!

To login and participate in the cyber dialogues, please go to

To log in

In the small box, type in your nickname, that is what you would like to be known as in the chat session. It could be your first name or your name and surname or a nickname that you prefer. Then type in your sex (m/f) in the same box.

Click on Join Chat to join in the discussion. ˬˬYou will be logged into the cyber dialogues chat service.

Joining a room

You will need to join a room to begin chatting. For these cyber dialogues we will use the English chat room.


You will now see the chat screen. In the main box you will begin to see other people chatting. To add your comments type into the box at the bottom of the screen and click SEND. You will see your comment appear in the main box.

To exit from the cyber dialogues, click on the red icon on the right.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Saeanna on We look forward to meeting you in cyber space.

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