Working towards gender transformative programming

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.

Case study: UNICEF's gender transformative approaches to end child marriages

Gender exploitative

Gender exploitative means that a programme exploits gender inequalities in pursuit of reaching the intended outcomes of the programme. 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 a macho man having multiple female partners and thus reinforcing gender inequality.

Gender sensitive

Gender sensitive means that you are aware of the different gender roles, responsibilities and inequalities in society, but the programme has limited ambitions to address existing structural imbalances or to change the roles in 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 and benefit from the programme. Specifically, targeting women who lag behind.

Example: Interventions aim at expanding women's opportunities and improving their position in markets. Striving for equal benefits (e.g. wages) and advocating 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 important roles and incentivising behaviour change in society by supporting women's ambitions. Through reduction and recognition of unpaid care, strengthening women's leadership, and influence in decision making processes at different levels of society.