TOCs & Gender Inclusion

RDI Network
September 2021
7 min read

Gender inequality manifests itself through a complex web of forces, socially, culturally, and historically entrenched in societies and relationships. It cannot be changed by isolated interventions. Integrating a gender lens into a Theory of Change (ToC) is crucial for achieving effective outcomes for gender equality.  
Here is a collection of our key takeaways: 

  • Most government and NGO funding is not focused on women’s organisations and policies. Most policies are written in a gender-neutral manner, not explicitly highlighting any one gender. This lack of acknowledgement that policies can and do affect genders differently contributes to systemic gender inequality. Gender mainstreaming is a process that attempts to bring this fact to attention. The aim of combating these institutional biases is to clear a path for gender-based policies to be implemented. Neglecting to discuss the role of gender while developing ToC, causes teams and organisations to form an incomplete understanding of how to achieve change. 
  • Women and men (and/or other genders) are impacted differently. When discussing issues such as climate change, the division of labor, and societal expectation of one’s responsibilities, there is a stark difference in experiences and outcomes between the genders. An effective ToC requires gender mainstreaming to combat these inequalities. That is to highlight the different experiences by gender under the same policies and crises.  
  • Enabling and unified environments required. To achieve effective and stable progress, the environment must be one that is open and accepting of proposed changes. It is required to have a unified commitment towards gender equality. If gender-based policies are, in any way, construed unfair or discriminatory, it can be difficult to gain broad support.  
  • Gender blind vs gender neutral. The notion of an organisation being “gender blind” is not sufficient. By not explicitly engaging with gender issues, an organisation may find itself inadvertently perpetuating entrenched inequalities. An effective ToC requires a concerted effort to include discussion of gender in all forms to combat any potential blind spots, resulting in a more thorough and comprehensive reflection. 

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