Formed in March 2001, Gender Links (GL) is a Southern African NGO, headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, that promotes gender equality and justice across the fifteen countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. GL’s Theory of Change recognises that patriarchy is deeply imbedded at every level and in every sphere of society. It seeks to reverse the vicious negative cycle of women’s lack of voice, choice and control, through actions at regional, national, community, household and individual level that show that change is possible, through working with men and women, boys and girls.

GL is recognised globally for bringing together a coalition of gender NGOs that campaigned for the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development with 28 targets to be achieved by 2015. GL coordinates the Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance that brings together over 40 NGOs that lobbied for the adoption and implementation of the Protocol, and now its updating and alignment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Alliance is a member of the Women’s Major Group that lobbied for over 30 gender targets and indicators in the SDGs. GL mainstreams the targets of the Protocol in its three core programme areas – media, governance and justice.

In the Gender and Media programme, GL has conducted ground-breaking research on gender within the media, in media content, as well as in media education, culminating in the 2015 Gender and Media Progress Study – the largest such study ever undertaken. GL is currently working with 108 Centres of Excellence for Gender in the Media. The GL News Service, in English, French and Portuguese, gives voice to women and men around the region who often fail to access the mainstream media, especially through GL’s special brand of “I” stories or first- hand accounts. Media training institutions and NGOs “connect, collect and collaborate” through the Gender and Media Diversity Centre that hosts seminars; produces a journal and is a knowledge exchange centre. GL Chairs the Global Alliance on Media and Gender comprising over 800 media and media development organisations that promote gender equality in and through the media.

Following two ground breaking research pieces on Gender and Governance, GL is now working with 425 Centres of Excellence for Gender and Local Government in ten countries, covering 26% of the population of SADC. In 2015, the COEs contributed 75% of the costs for the COE process and gender action plans with flagship programmes for ending gender violence, community by community.

GL’s pioneering work in developing strategic communications campaigns linked to the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Justice has grown to include initiatives to ensure sustained, year-long campaigns for ending gender violence and indicators for measuring the prevalence of, and attitudes towards GBV. GL has conducted GBV baseline studies in four provinces of South Africa; Mauritius, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Zambia. The research is currently under way in Seychelles. These indicators are being cascaded to local 365 Day Campaigns to end gender violence.

From 2013 to 2015, 100 councils anchored an innovative pilot programme to provide entrepreneurship training to 1500 survivors of gender violence, as part of GL’s Empower women, End Violence campaign. A survey showed that the income of the women increased by 66% and that 86% reported experiencing less or much less violence. Through its Making IT work for Gender Justice work, GL is creating mobile online communities of practice in this innovative new area of work to find sustainable solutions to gender violence.

With its strong emphasis on peer learning and sharing, GL has held four Gender and Media Summits; three Gender Justice and Local Government Summits and three combined SADC Protocol@Work summits preceded by 31 national and 26 district summits. In its first fifteen years, GL has collected over 2000 “I” Stories and a similar number of SADC Protocol@Work case studies, as well as 700 inspirational Drivers of Change stories, documented on in multi-media formats on the GL website. GL’s robust Results for Change framework covers monitoring, evaluation, knowledge, learning, innovation and value for money.

Described in a 2005 evaluation as a “small organisation with large footprints” GL has MOU’s with over 100 partners in all 15 SADC countries ranging from local councils to local government associations to government ministries, NGOs and Community and Faith Based Organisations. GL has received support from over fifty funders – bilateral, multilateral, foundations and the corporate sector – who have commended the organisation for its high standards of institutional effectiveness, including a straight record of unqualified audit reports. GL is fully compliant with IATI and has a Zero Tolerance for Corruption Policy.   

In 2008 GL established of a Francophone office in Mauritius (which later moved to Madagascar), and regional advocacy office in Botswana, SADC headquarters.  By March 2012, GL had established a Lusophone base in Mozambique, and offices in Lesotho, Madagascar, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In 2012, GL invested in GL Cottages and Conferencing, a lodge used by GL, partners and clients, as part of a diversification and sustainability strategy that includes GL Training and Advisory Services (G-TAS) and an Endowment Fund. GL employs over 50 staff, 30% of these men.  The 12 – member Board chaired by Emily Brown from South Africa/Namibia comprises ten SADC nationalities, 25% of whom are men.

GL’s work has been recognised through several awards. In October 2010 GL won the “Investing in the Future Award” administered by the Mail and Guardian newspaper for its Gender Justice and Local Government Summit. In 2009 GL received the “Top Gender Empowered Government Agency or Parastatal Award” from the Top Women Awards. GL has been a finalist in the “Drivers of Change Award – Civil Society Category” administered by the Mail and Guardian newspaper and the Southern African Trust three times, including in October 2015. In 2013 the African Union recognised GL’s outstanding contribution to women’s rights during the tenth anniversary of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.


  • SADC Protocol on Gender and Development adopted and is being adapted to the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, with a strong Monitoring, Evaluation and Results Framework (MER).
  • Women’s movement strengthened through the Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance that tracks progress through an annual barometer.
  • Gender on the media agenda through the Gender and Media Baseline Study; Gender and Media Progress Studies; 108 Centres of Excellence for Gender in the Media including 12 public broadcasters; seven Centres of Excellence for Gender in Media Education.
  • Gender on the local government agenda through 425 Centres of Excellence for Gender in Local Government.
  • GBV baseline studies conducted in seven SADC countries.
  • 4473 training, research, strategy and action planning workshops held to promote gender equality.
  • 122, 611 direct beneficiaries reached; 35% men, 65% women.
  • 35,865,310 citizens or 26% of the population of SADC reached through 425 Centres of Excellence for Gender in Local Government.
  • 2,159, 219 website views and 3440 likes on facebook.
  • 18,026 contacts on the GL list serve: 65% women and 35% men.


GL Brochure

GL Institutional pamphlet – French