Working towards gender transformative programming

Part of the WEE Gateway

When donor and development agencies want to assess how gender is addressed in a programme, a gender equity continuum is often used. Such a continuum ranges from harmful gender inequity practices to programming that actively promotes gender equity. By understanding how each of these phases come to life in different programmatic approaches, you can actively work toward more gender transformative programming.

Gender exploitative

Gender exploitative means that a programme intentionally or unintentionally reinforces or exploits gender inequality to reach intended outcomes. It ignores gender norms, existing discrimination and inequalities.

Example: Setting up a campaign aiming to target the use of condoms by building onto social and cultural values that focuses on male virility, sexual conquest and control. Depicting this image of “masculinity" may reinforce harmful gender norms and behaviors.

Gender sensitive

Gender sensitive means that a programme is aware of the different gender roles, responsibilities and inequalities in society, but that there is limited ambition to address existing structural imbalances or to change power relations.

Example: Women are included in the activities of the programme (e.g. skills training), but there is no focus on what type of interventions they would need to improve their situation in the long run.

Gender positive

Gender positive means that different genders’ roles and responsibilities have been considered from the programme design phase, to ensure that men and women can participate in and benefit from the programme. Gender-positive programs can also specifically take actions to include women from more traditionally excluded groups, such as women belonging to certain income levels or women with disabilities.

Example: Interventions that strive for equal benefits (e.g. wages) for women, and advocate for gender responsive policies and laws.

Gender transformative

Gender transformative means challenging the existing gender roles, responsibilities and unequal power relations by addressing the root causes of inequality.

Example: Increasing the recognition of women's societal roles and incentivising behaviour change in society, for example, through the recognition and reduction of unpaid care, strengthening women's leadership and influence in decision making processes at different levels of society.