Gender integration: Making it a reality

Why has there been so much emphasis on gender integration? What does gender integration really mean, and how is it done?

Equal gender norms, roles and relations are key determinants of well-being across every aspect of human development. Gender inequality limits access to information, education, decision-making power, economic assets and health care. Women and girls are put at a great disadvantage because of unequal gender norms.

Research, especially in the health and education fields, shows that when efforts are made to address gender inequalities, individuals, communities and societies benefit.

At FHI 360, we use a Gender Integration Framework to provide practical guidance on how to analyze issues from a gender perspective and devise research and programs that identify and challenge gender-based inequalities that pose barriers to development.

FHI 360 conducts trainings at our U.S., regional and country offices to give our staff and leadership the capacity to put the framework into practice. Gender specialists throughout the organization help ensure that our research or programs integrate gender considerations at all stages of the project cycle — from planning and design to implementation and measurement.

This week in Tanzania, 28 technical staff from 17 FHI 360 country offices in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East will participate in our three-day gender integration workshop. The workshop will train these technical experts on how to use the framework and other tools and approaches in their day-to-day work. Participants will become Gender Focal Points, ensuring that gender remains front and center in our country and project offices.

So what does gender integration look like in practice? In Papua New Guinea, we are addressing the factors that put girls and women at greater risk for contracting HIV by tackling gender-based violence as part of an HIV prevention, care and treatment program. Clinical staff have been trained in trauma counseling and use newly developed standard operation procedures to help survivors of sexual violence who access the program’s HIV services. Through the Empowering Adolescent Girls Leading with Education (EAGLE) project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, our goal is to challenge and address the underlying gender issues that keep girls out of school. In Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, the project, recently underway, will provide scholarships and cash transfers to approximately 3,000 primary and secondary school students, 90 percent of whom are girls. The project will also address instances of school-related, gender-based violence by empowering focal point teachers who will refer young people to survivor services in the community. In Nigeria, we are helping to ensure a successful transition from school to work for young women in secondary schools by working with employers to provide vocational training opportunities that break down gender stereotypes and enable women to enter professional fields that have traditionally been restricted to men.

There is much more work to be done to promote greater gender equality, and it will take leadership at all levels to ensure that initiatives do more than just achieve health and development outcomes. Only by transforming unequal gender norms and roles will we see sustainable progress in human development.

Watch videos of participants from the gender integration workshop in Tanzania below:

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