To successfully and holistically integrate gender in private sector development programmes, a gender lens should be applied to programmes as well as organisations as a whole. From an organisational perspective, it is important that gender and women’s economic empowerment is integrated throughout the organisation by:
The first step in the project cycle is the identification, research and analysis of the current gender and WEE situation. Outcomes of this research should be used to inform project planning and design.
Applying a gender lens to the identification phase of a project primarily means that a thorough gender analysis is undertaken, thus recognising that market systems and the business environment are far from gender-neutral. The gender analysis is the starting point of including WEE in a project or programme. It can be executed as a separate analysis or integrated into other programmes assessments, e.g. the market systems analysis.
The gender analysis aims to assess gender relations and gender inequalities by looking at specific social, economic and political aspects such as gender differences in:
On this basis, the gender analysis should describe any possible differential impact of the programme on women and men, and recommend alternatives to ensure that targeted beneficiaries of all genders can equally access, participate in and benefit from the planned activities.
A gender analysis is only a means and not an end by itself. Its findings, insights and recommendations must be translated into gender-responsive programming.
The second step of the project cycle is the setting of objectives and the definition of relevant indicators. This step should be based on the results of the analysis that was done as part of the first step of the project cycle. It considers questions like, what changes do we aim for with our intervention? How do we achieve our targets? How do we measure the results of our intervention? You can apply a gender lens to this step by:
By setting out the causal logic associated with enhancing empowerment, you explain how change occurs in your programme. When it comes to WEE, the causal logic can be different from the logic associated with reducing poverty. For example, we cannot assume that by increasing a women’s income she will automatically become economically empowered. It is therefore important for programmes to articulate parallel causal pathways in the programme-level Theory of Change.
It is useful to set gender participation targets for each intervention. Not only does it help you to understand whether you are reaching the target number of women, but it can also become a tool for negotiating with service providers. Defining economic empowerment objectives means defining a specific target group of women (such as poor women, women business owners, etc.) and a goal for improving their condition in terms of empowerment.
Once a results chain is formulated, indicators are defined and targets are set, implementation can start. This step includes both the execution and monitoring of project interventions. Gender should be considered in both activities.
WEE interventions can be targeted specifically to women, or they can be gender mainstreamed. In the first case, the expected benefits in terms of WEE are likely to be reached by implementing an intervention aiming at the defined and specified target group of women. In the second case, women are targeted as part of a wider target group that includes men. Most programmes include both types of interventions.
In monitoring too, gender can be integrated systematically in the overall project monitoring system, and/or additional gender specific monitoring fields can be defined. There are several key considerations when measuring changes in WEE indicators. These include:
The fourth step of the project cycle is the evaluation of outputs, results and impacts, for each of the indicators that were defined in step 3. An adequate evaluation provides you with insights into the effectiveness of your programme design and the execution of your interventions. This means that results should tell you something about the validity of your results chain, theory of change and targets.
At the same time, it should help you understand whether programme interventions were successful or not, and why. Key questions on gender need to be integrated into all evaluations taking place (external, or self-evaluations, mid-term and end line).
Attribution is a key element to consider in evaluations. It refers to the degree of change that can be credited to an intervention out of the total amount of change that takes place. Measured results are less attributable to a programme’s efforts when external influences are stronger and/or results depend upon a change by one or several intermediaries. The ability of an initiative to attribute changes to its efforts weakens as the changes are further from the original intervention. This is an important consideration when trying to attribute changes in WEE to a programme, particularly at the household level as most PSD programmes do not implement interventions that directly intervene at the household level. Rather, they intervene at the enterprise, service provider or policy levels. Impact level changes, such as household income levels and decision making dynamics, are subject to a greater number of influences. Attributing the expected results at the household level to the programme will therefore require additional exploration to validate.
Evaluation findings should be used to improve the programme design and intervention execution. When it comes to WEE, getting to the root causes of certain findings could require elaborate further analysis. It is important that gender is considered as a key factor in these analyses.
The fifth step is reporting on your findings, which is critical for accountability and learning purposes. It should focus on achieved changes, not only activities, and include the obstacles and challenges in achieving these changes. Translating data and information into a report can help a programme to review its progress and receive feedback and support from senior management. Reporting on gender results has to be integrated systematically in the overall reporting, with a specific focus on using gender-sensitive language. Furthermore, there are additional data protection concerns that should be taken into account.
If your programme decides to measure and report on sensitive issues such as household decision-making abilities or gender-based violence, you will need to take necessary precautions to protect data including having data passwords protected and supervised. It is also important to train staff so they understand which information can and cannot be shared.
Many programmes struggle to effectively analyse and report on WEE. It is very common for good research to be misunderstood because the person writing the report had a limited understanding of gender and WEE. To address this, programmes have set up quality control procedures where the Gender Lead and/or Team Leader for the programme complete a gender-sensitivity review before submission.