Talking Gender

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A blog about gender, culture and organizational change


By Gender at Work Media / November 6, 2015 / Loading Disqus...

by Swaha Katyayini Ramnath 

Gender at Work in collaboration with the Institute of Social Studies Trust and Heinrich Böll Stiftung India held a panel discussion on ‘Gender Equality at the Workplace in India’ in September 2015. The panel was moderated by G@W’s Country Director for India, Sudrsana Kundu and comprised speakers from different sectors. Reiko Tsushima represented the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Harpreet Kaur represented the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre in New Delhi and Kalyani Menon-Sen spoke from the perspective of an independent feminist researcher and activist. The panelists engaged in a rich discussion that addressed gender issues spanning across the organised and unorganized sectors as well as those that are present in a technologically advanced workplace. 

Reiko primarily talked about time poverty for women due to the unequal sharing of unpaid work and the wage penalty levied on women as a result. She highlighted the importance of de-gendering carework so women can build economic agency in the market. Harpreet discussed the divide between women’s visibility and voice in the workplace, that women’s representation does not necessarily guarantee equality and dignity. She spoke about how each unit involved in a global value chain is responsible for maintaining gender parity. Kalyani drew attention to the fact that despite public intervention, visible gender inequality persists. She stressed that workplace cultures need to change, and that changing organizational culture means changing individual minds and practices. Despite technologically progressive aspects of working like telecommuting, for example, there was very little uptake on such work-life policies. She emphasized that a crucial component of changes in the workplace is a proactive leadership. Simultaneously, employees should attempt to understand their organisation’s value by evaluating the extent to which productivity and efficiency are linked.

The discussion explored the need to redefine ‘work’ by building equality into the bedrock of the concept of ‘work’. By examining the workplace in households, factories, corporate offices and shop floors, the nuanced interchange captured the essence of a cross sectoral dialogue.


By Gender at Work Media / October 13, 2015 / Loading Disqus...

by Rieky Stuart

I’ve been writing a book with BRAC and Gender at Work colleagues that looks back at work we did together 20 years ago. It’s not often that one has the privilege to go so far back down memory lane and explore ‘so what happened to you after you participated in that work?'

What is most amazing is that the 500 people we interviewed remembered – almost to a person and in considerable detail the workshops they participated in 20 years ago – what issues they wanted to work on, what happened as a result in their home lives and how they worked in BRAC. That in itself is amazing – can you remember a process you were part of 20 years ago?  

They told us that it became much more possible for women and men staff to work professionally and respectfully together – women were not treated as capable of doing BRAC’s programmatic work. They told us that abusive behavior decreased, and staff policies about leave and working hours were circulated and actually put into practice.  

But even more amazing was that when the program was taken out into Bangladeshi communities – over 2 million people have participated to date – rigorous evaluation showed that women’s and men’s attitudes and behavior to address gender equality issues like girls’ early marriage and exclusion from schooling, equal distribution of food in the household among family members, women and men both participating in decision-making about income. Equally important, the participating households had better results in improving their income, health and assets through BRAC programmes that were delivered simultaneously than when these programmes were delivered alone, or in control households.  

The numbers and results we are documenting are surprising and worth circulating widely. They’re a large-scale example of how combining practical needs and strategic interests for women and men is a successful strategy in both dimensions. It provides irrefutable evidence for the potential of gender mainstreaming that incorporates a results orientation. 


By Ray Gordezky
Click for a larger image.

This graphic was designed by Liisa Sorsa of thinklinkgraphics to illustrate the key points that G@W Associate Jeremy Holland made in a densely written research paper on measuring gender equality. Graphic recording is visual thinking. Since most of us process information visually, giving visual form to papers, presentations, and workshop proceedings increases clarity of ideas, deepens engagement, and inspires linking of disparate ideas. When people see their words take visual shape they feel heard and validated. A number of years ago, while facilitating a workshop in Jersualem with Palestinians and Israelis on ending religiously motivated violence, we decided to have a colleague visually record the proceedings. As the graphic took shape, the tension in the room subsided as conflicting ideas came together side by side to make a whole. The arguing between Israelis and Palestinians subsided and they used their energy to engage with the ideas they generated which were on a twenty foot banner in front of them. 

The graphic above performed magic. Just to give you a background, this was part of a Measuring Gender Equality Initiative launched in collaboration with the Participation, Power and Social Change (PPSC) Team in the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, and funded by NORAD, the Global Fund for Women and UN Women. It took place in May 2011 and brought together 26 participants from 12 countries. These participants represented organizations working at all levels of international cooperation for social change from women’s organizations, university settings and donor agencies. At the heart of the initiative was a desire to initiate a ‘community of learning’ by bringing together donors and activists at all levels of the system. 

Jeremy Holland presented the prepared background paper Measuring Gender Equality in Organisational Learning: A Background Paper (Holland and Sheppard, Gender at Work, 2011), underscoring how measuring, understanding and communicating social change in gender relations plays a critical yet elusive part in tackling gender equality. 

A better understanding of the processes at play is essential for both internal organizational change and for development interventions through reflective practice. The issue remains that traditional linear tools for M&E are ineffective on their own in supporting this type of organizational learning as tracking changes in gender relations and/or organizational cultures are complex, long-term, and context specific. Too often there is a mismatch between donors managing for results, the evaluation community’s concern for complexity, and activists and practitioners who are busy with day-to-day activities. 

Holland emphasized that how change is conceptualized affects how it is measured, therefore, it is important to start with a strong theoretical basis and then use appropriate methods to test the theory. 

For organizations to use evidence about what works best for gender equality, they need to be able to reflect on power relations (both the incentives and vested interests) that shape and maintain the status quo. Some of the methods outlined in the paper are participatory instruments which quantify relational change through scorecards—tools which are at their best when they integrate description of change with qualitative explanation of change. 

For organizations to use evidence about what works best for gender equality, they need to be able to reflect on power relations (both the incentives and vested interests) that shape and maintain the status quo. An overview of the variety of methods for measuring social change was presented, as you can see in the graphic.

Liisa and I worked with the paper to translate the academic prose into everyday language, checking back with Jeremy to ensure we got it right. We identified the key themes—the bold ideas on the measuring tape, then Liisa had at it. When she finished, we sent a draft to Jeremy—who accepted it as created. When she and I went over it in detail, we found a few more things to change; and when we got to the UK, where the workshop was begin held, Jeremy saw the large poster for the first time in its grandness. He did request a few minor changes, which we made later to the graphic and the image you see here is the final graphic. 

The key idea with graphic recording is something we all know: most of us are visually oriented, yet we try to learn or present our concepts through speaking (usually one way) or through bullet points, which miss the whole, and fragment any sense of larger meaning. Graphics put the ideas in simple pictures and words. Instead of attaching ideas to a person and interpreting the ideas based on your notions of the person, the graphic becomes objective material that people discuss and challenge in productive conversations. It’s a great way to summarize research and capture ideas from meetings so that everyone sees the whole, rather than relying on the slipperiness of bullet points and memory.


By Tanya Beer

This is part 2 of a blog about an experiment with strategic learning by a Gender at Work team of facilitators working on gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa. To see part 1, click here.

The team’s long-term strategic learning approach focuses on observing and collecting data that signals whether these propositions are, in fact, holding true. Are they seeing signals that stakeholders feel an increased level of ownership and inspiration due to the participatory nature of the collaborative design? Does the presence of a broader and more diverse group of participants seem to create a context where people see beneath program-level treatment of GBV to the underlying cultural norms that drive it? Do the breadth and size of the convening seem to be generating momentum for a different way of working together across silos in the Vaal? And for all of these questions–what seems to be driving the results that we see, positive or negative? 

The team used the emergent learning (EL) process immediately after their first large group convening to examine what happened and generate fresh insights about what drives results. Then they refined their hypotheses about what success requires and identified concrete, upcoming opportunities to test the new hypotheses.

I’d like to give you an insight into the way it works. Very briefly, the contents of the team’s first EL table included: 

Ground truths: Data, observations and stories from the past from which we can learn 

  • Participants reported a high level of trust and a sense of safety because of the physical decor of the room, the open design of the process, a focus on individual experience, pre-existing trusting relationships among a core group of participants and the facilitators, and a lack of formality that helped break down traditional hierarchies.
  • Despite extensive formal invitations, we didn’t get the kind of diversity in participants that we wanted. We particularly lacked people occupying formal positions of authority in government agencies. 
  • Participants observed that they believed their work was addressing norms. After using the G@W framework to examine change, they realized this was not so. A non-judgmental conversation helped people think about how they might deepen their work to address norms. 
  • Some new ideas for addressing norms emerged spontaneously, but beyond a creative radio program aimed at discussing gender-based violence (GBV) with men, we have limited evidence of continued action. 
  • Some participants are now linking their GBV work to one another, but many who attended do not have the decision-making authority to redesign programs or to make decisions about new partnerships. 
Insights: What we’ve learned from what has already happened                                                     
  • Having a core group who had worked with us before and already trusted our methodology was crucial to creating an atmosphere that brought the others on board and created a non-competitive environment and agenda. 
  • The feel of the space was an important driver of our initial positive results—the welcoming and homey environment invited individual sharing and candor which is rare in work-related meetings in South Africa. 
  • A sense of co-ownership was driven by the co-creation of the approach by the group. It remains unclear whether this early feeling will translate into ongoing action and what kind of support would help people carry it forward. 
  • Formal invitations—even when issued to invitees by people they already know—were insufficient motivation for busy people in positions of power to participate in full-day, multi-stakeholder meetings on GBV, particularly if it’s not a priority issue for their professional work. 
  • Expectations about what types of new or different strategies, connections, or actions to address GBV will be catalyzed by multi-stakeholder GAL processes are limited in part by who attends the meetings, what kind of institutional resources they can bring to bear, and what authority they have to make decisions on behalf of their organizations.

Hypotheses: Given what we’ve learned, what we think will make us successful next time


  • If we can get people reflecting together on what each of us individually can do every single day, then we begin to tap into what’s normative in society, and participants will begin to have a sense that they can change it. 
  • If we ask participants to reflect on the practice of open-space meeting design and Gender Action Learning, explicitly identify what has been different about this way of interacting, and identify where they could apply it in their own work, then they will be more likely to carry it forward and spread the approach. 
  • If participants from the core group bring additional people from their own organizations to participate in the next collaborative, then they won’t feel like lone rangers within their own organization and it will be easier for them to keep it alive if they don’t have to do it alone. 
  • If we approach “official” participants (e.g., government officials, leaders of influential organizations) by asking one or two people to talk to them, listen hard to what would make participation valuable for them, and make sure we can pitch it as a win-win, then we can get more officials to attend. 
  • If after the next world cafe we can conduct an emergent learning table on the whole process with the core planning group, then we can learn more about what’s driving this increased sense of ownership and energy and apply it going forward. 
Opportunities: Upcoming opportunities to test our thinking in action  

  • We will test our hypotheses about how to attract more diverse attendees, including government officials, to the next world café session by redesigning our outreach strategy. 
  • The next world café will be designed to re-create the conditions of safety and trust that seemed to crucial to the first session, and will include reflection on the explicit ways the process is different from “business as usual” to test whether this helps participants apply the approach in their own settings. 
  • The debrief after the next world cafe will focus on exploring lessons that need to be carried forward, understanding what really caused the increased sense of ownership and energy, and exploring what it will take to support participants to continue action going forward. 

After the team had the opportunity to test the hypotheses above, they engaged in a second EL table, with observations and data about what happened serving as the “ground truths” for another round of insights and refinements to strategy. As the initiative progresses, the team will also collect data and insights on the bigger outcomes embedded in its theory to feed into an on-going EL process to generate hypotheses that Gender at Work and other participants can apply to multi-stakeholder Gender Action Learning processes in other settings.                                                     

By applying this cycle in different settings and for different efforts, we’re hoping to sharpen our ability to pose the right strategic questions, train our evaluative lens on the most actionable data, generate meaningful insights and create and test new hypotheses about how to accelerate change. We’d love the opportunity to test this approach out with our partners and friends who are learning from their work as well. 

Tanya Beer is an Associate with Gender at Work. This post was previously published in Fem2pt0.


By Tanya Beer

The issues feminist activists and organizations work on are sticky, entangled, and opaque. The deeply embedded dynamics that hold gender discrimination and inequalities in place make our work unpredictable, and the way forward hard to see. Gender at Work, a transnational network of individuals and organizations, aims to build knowledge and practice to end discrimination against women and advance cultures of equality. Although we place a deep value on shared reflection and learning—and as a core part of our work we facilitate Gender Action Learning (GAL) processes described in Aruna Rao’s April 16 blog for Fem2.0—we know firsthand what a challenge it is to embed intentional, evidence-based learning in our day-to-day work.

But learning as we go is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. In other words, learning isn’t something we need to find time to do in addition to our strategies. Learning is itself a strategy. If we can more effectively learn within organizations, across organizations, and throughout the feminist movement as a whole, we can aggregate our collective insights to get better faster, together. 

The weak link in an action learning cycle is usually the connection between reflection and planning. How do the insights we’ve generated from our reflection on data and experience actually translate into and affect sound decisions about what to do next? We’ve witnessed countless groups reflect on their experience or other kinds of data (including evaluation findings), then come to conclusions about what the data might mean for their own context, and yet fail to adapt their strategies or tactics in ways that improve their results. And even though we specialize in supporting groups with Gender Action Learning processes, we also struggle to build systematic ways of learning into our work in an ongoing way. So Gender at Work is experimenting with approaches to embed strategic learning into our individual projects and our network as a whole. We’d like to share what we’ve tried in this blog post and a sequel, with the hopes of illustrating a concrete approach that other organizations and networks can also test and refine. 

Our Experiment with Emergent Learning in Action

Rather than designing and implementing an elaborate, network-wide learning “system,” as many organizations do, we decided to test learning approaches in localized projects to work out the bugs before we try it in other settings or network-wide. Our first localized experiment with a systematic learning approach is occurring with a team of Gender at Work Associates working in the Vaal region of South Africa. With a FLOW grant (www.flowprogramme.nl/) from the Dutch government, the team is convening a multi-stakeholder Gender Action Learning process to address gender-based violence (GBV) in the area. 

The challenge is that despite the best efforts of many feminist activists and NGOs who have been raising awareness, providing programs to support survivors, and advocating for improved legal and criminal justice, rates of gender-based violence in the Vaal aren’t diminishing. This is unsurprising, as violence against women and non-conforming genders emerges from a deeply unequal society where violence has become normalized in everyday life. And the women and men who generally have less structural power (e.g. those from low-income, working class communities) bear the brunt of the violence. Yet they seldom participate in—much less lead—the analysis of the problem or the development of strategies to address it. Nor do most GBV change strategies focus specifically on the underlying norms driving the problem. As a result, the Gender at Work team wondered: 

How can we build a more sustainable gender action learning process that is rooted in working class perspectives, is less resource-intensive, and addresses existing gender ‘deep structures’ in society, particular norms underlying violence against women? 

In response to this question, the team developed a provisional theory of change for a Gender Action Learning process that would bring together community members in the Vaal from a variety of sectors (such as trade union members, NGO staff, faith groups, and the public sector). Acknowledging that this kind of strategy is complex and unlikely to unfold in a predictable way, the team’s theory includes a few key propositions: 

  • Transformative solutions to GBV cannot emerge unless a wide variety of stakeholders from across the community have an opportunity to collaboratively diagnose and address the norms that underlie the high GBV statistics. 
  • By building on our existing relationships and then broadening stakeholder participation to reflect a diversity of community interests, we will see enough critical mass (i.e., collective strength, common vision, bringing together of passions) to create momentum for working collaboratively in the Vaal area in a new way. 
  • An open space design and participant-led process will build ownership and increase the likelihood that the work on GBV will continue even after the FLOW grant period has ended. 

The team isn’t sure whether—or under what conditions—these propositions hold true, or how crucial they are to achieving their goal. As a result, the propositions serve as the scaffolding of the team’s long-term strategic learning practice. They will focus on observing and collecting data that signals whether these propositions are, in fact, holding true and under what conditions. Are they seeing signals that stakeholders feel an increased level of ownership and inspiration due to the participatory nature of the collaborative design? Does the presence of a broader and more diverse group of participants seem to create a context where people see beneath program-level treatment of GBV to the underlying cultural norms that drive it? Does the breadth and size of the convening seem to be generating momentum for a different way of working together across silos in the Vaal? And most importantly, for all of these questions, what seems to be driving the results that we see, whether positive or negative? If we answer this last question, we can adapt our tactics mid-stream to increase the likelihood of success.  

Based on these kinds of forward-looking, action-oriented learning questions, the Gender at Work team in the Vaal is now using a semi-structured action/reflection approach called “Emergent Learning,” developed by US-based organizational development consultant Marilyn Darling, to find answers to these questions, focus their evaluative lens, and adapt their strategies and tactics in response to what they learn. 

Our next blog post will focus more deeply on the Emergent Learning process and describe the experience of the Gender at Work team in the Vaal as they have gone through the process. In the meantime, to start generating a more meaningful learning agenda for your own organization or network, consider what forward-looking, action oriented questions could have the most powerful impact on your own work. Ask yourself: What would it take to….? That’s the start of getting better together, faster. 

(To be continued…) 

Tanya Beer is an Associate at Gender at Work and the Assistant Director of the Center for Evaluation Innovation. This post previously appeared in Fem2pt0


By Joanne Sandler

                         

I doubt that any young girl or boy stares dreamily into space thinking, “When I grow up, I want to be a gender advisor!” The idea that advising, advocating for and guiding organizations to become more gender equitable could be an exciting and viable job or career is a fairly new concept. 

And, yet, there are legions of such jobs and consultancies everywhere now: the UN alone has nearly 3,000 staff members that are responsible – mostly as part-time staff but with an increasing number of full-time positions as well – for supporting more effective policies and programs on gender equality and women’s empowerment. Multiply that by the number of such advisors in other government and non-governmental organizations, as well as an increasing number of equal opportunity and gender equity positions in the private sector, and you probably have tens of thousands of these jobs all over the world. Imagine the collective wisdom that the men and women who have these jobs could share if they joined together! 

Gender at Work is a global learning collaborative of more than 30 gender equality and women’s rights experts and organizational development specialists from almost every region in the world. Some, like me, have worked in large institutions and know the joys and frustrations of advocating for entrenched, patriarchal institutions to change. Others are long-time consultants, activists or scholars, highly skilled in bridging academic theory with organizational practice. 

We have supported more than 100 organizations with a wide range of gender advisory services over the past 10 years. As Aruna Rao wrote in an earlier blog post, Gender at Work helps people inside organizations identify deeply embedded gender-biased norms or “deep structures”, and then chip away at them. 

A couple of years ago, we held an e-consultation with 40 leading specialists on how organizations engaged in development – private foundations, UN organizations and government donor agencies like USAID or UK-DFID – transform to build ‘cultures of equality’, proactively advancing gender equality from the outside in and from the inside out. We wanted to share some of the collective wisdom on strategies from the trenches. Four of the key points that emerged: 

  • If an organization is passionate about ‘results’, help them clearly identify the gender equality results that they want to be known for: We rightly bemoan the obsession that many development organizations now have with “Management for Development Results” when it comes to complex processes like changing gender power relations. For those who are looking for quick fixes and immediate returns, it is true that there is no vaccine for gender inequality. But the results regime can also be an opportunity. A consultant who works with Irish Aid noted that she used the organizational commitment to results to help staff articulate concrete expectations of change. In 2.5 years, this approach showed more change than the 10+ years that she supported them to create institutional gender strategies and policies. 
  • Position gender equality as ‘mission critical’: Organizations tackle their exclusionary practices – including gender inequality — when they realize that these practices and underlying discriminatory values inhibit them from achieving their larger goals. The U.S. military, as an example, is an inherently patriarchal organization that exists to protect US global dominance. It will only make progress on eliminating gender discrimination when it realizes that it’s undermining their larger mission. Wide-ranging organizations – from McKinsey to the World Bank – are producing evidence to show how gender equality and women’s empowerment is absolutely mission critical to profits, productivity and effectiveness. 
  • Change happens when individuals begin to see themselves as gendered beings trapped within — but not prisoners of — gendered institutions. We have to stop conflating ‘gender’ with women. We are talking about a spectrum of gender identities. Narrow expectations of what is normal for ‘men’ and ‘women’ are constraining for almost everybody at some point. Participants in our e-consultation talked about the importance of creating reflective spaces so that staff in organizations can identify the gendered expectations that constrain them and then devise strategies to change these. 
  • Culture eats strategy for breakfast: The best laid plans for transforming gender discriminatory practices in organizations are sabotaged when organizational culture is not part of the consideration. The IMF can have a robust policy against sexual harassment, but if the organization’s leader is a well-known violator, the policy is not even worth the piece of paper that describes it. A law firm can have a strategy for non-discrimination, but if working 19 hours a day is incentivized with promotions and perks, women who are still largely responsible for reproductive chores will be disadvantaged. You can read the full e-discussion here
What are your ‘secret’ insights and strategies about the ways that organizations transform to build cultures of equality? We’d love to know! 


Joanne is a Senior Associate with Gender at Work. Previously she was Deputy Executive Director of UNIFEM for 10 years. She is an active Board member of Breakthrough and Women Win, and is a member of the Global Civil Society Advisory Group for UN Women. She tweets from @JoanneSandler. A version of this post was originally published in Fem2pt0.


By Aruna Rao 

In graduate school, I began to be fascinated by the ‘black box’ of organizations, the peculiar ways through which organizations digest gender equality laws and policies and put out something that looks quite different from what one might expect. Connecting these two worlds – how organizations worked and whether or not women could access opportunity systems – happened most clearly for me while working at BRAC in Bangladesh in the 1990s. I saw first-hand how the values that shaped the organization in its early years and resulted in benefits to destitute people, later inhibited its ability to recruit women staff because those values were gender-biased.

In the 1990s Bangladesh cultural context, it was easy and acceptable for men to carry out field work at night, ride bicycles and motorbikes, and live singly in villages; for women, it was not. So, in effect, women had to fit into a system that was made to fit men. In a staff survey we conducted in 1994, we asked BRAC staff, “must women become men to succeed?” Most male BRAC staff said that was not the case but many women contested their view. BRAC has since embarked in an organization-wide program to uncover and address institutional biases and discriminatory norms. 

Informal norms and rules become so deeply embedded in an organization that they remain unnoticed, ignored or invisible. They become insidious and dangerous perpetrators of gender discrimination and over time, they add up to a culture of inequality. This affects life within organizations for women and men. It also affects how effectively the organization can catalyse change in the communities in which it works. Gender at Work helps people inside organizations identify these deeply embedded gender-biased norms or “deep structures”, and then chip away at them. 

We work with a wide range of organizations, networks and movements around the world. In India, we supported Dalit women to break the strangleholds that prevent them from fully using and benefiting from the MNREGA scheme , a national rural employment program. In South Sudan, we worked with civil society organizations fighting gender-based violence; they started involving men in their battle and exploited the power of radio. In South Africa, we partnered with organizations to integrate HIV&AIDS issues into their responses to gender-based violence.

Gender-at-Work-Framework

Uncovering deep structures and changing them is not easy. It is a complex and dynamic process for everyone involved, throwing up tough questions and requiring brave answers. This honesty is enabled in a number of ways – by building trust, by ‘unleashing’ capacity at the individual and collective levels, through strategic learning and evaluation, and by building knowledge. 

Our capacity building includes Gender Action Learning (GAL), a robust and intensive process that guides organizations and/or groups within organizations to develop strategies and processes that will end discrimination against women in formal systems and organizations. Together, participants examine the deep structures that hold inequality in place and then, we help develop a collective project to change these deep structures, or at least move in that direction. This involves peer-learning workshops, shared accountability, individual coaching and mentoring from a G@W facilitator, and the development of approaches, tools and writing. It involves thought, mind-body work, and plenty of laughter. 

When Lok Samiti partnered with Gender at Work in India, they wanted to fundamentally transform the composition of their Union. Not only did they want to increase the number of Dalit women by 25%, they also wanted to ensure that Dalit women come into positions of leadership in the union. Now, 50% of the membership and leadership includes Dalit women. Hospersa, a union of health workers in South Africa, participated in an action-learning process in 2011 to reframe their thinking on how the union listens to its members. Today, Hospersa addresses gender issues in their collective bargaining efforts. It has set up a sexual harassment policy; and it engages with and provides insights into national policies relating to gender & HIV/AIDS and TB. 

Organizations can also go through learning and evaluation from a gender equality and rights-based perspective. They do this using the G@W Framework , an analytical matrix which helps examine how change happens by looking at inter-connections among different change domains and collective impact. In 2013, Gender at Work developed a tool for FAO to assess whether there was gender inclusion in the agricultural and rural poverty reduction policies of their member states. We helped identify how the policies in a given country were addressing poverty and equality issues, their impact, gaps and incoherencies, and areas of priority action. The tool we developed will be used to provide country-wide “snapshots”, track changes in national policies over time, and identify policy options and possible corrective measures among FAO member countries. 

One of the most satisfying experiences of strategic learning was when we worked with organizations in South Africa to guide them on innovative writing / story-telling techniques to identify shared strategies. The stories that emerged became a book. Before we knew it, the book had sold thousands of copies and was being read by people who didn’t even usually read. The language, they said, was their own. 

Building knowledge remains one of our priorities because it allows us to move forward in this direction and contribute to the larger area of work around gender. We do this continuously and we try to reach people in multiple ways. We develop Collaboratories for people working on different aspects of gender inequality, write books, run contests, and produce articles, power-point presentations and other media. Our Board and Associates are profoundly interested in ending discrimination against women in formal systems and organizations, and they spend a significant amount of their time and energy sharing their knowledge and ideas. 

By trying to transform cultures of inequality in individual, innovative and meaningful ways, we’re aiming to end gender discrimination. Join us at our website, get in touch via email and stay in touch on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn. 

Aruna Rao is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Gender at Work, a transnational network of individuals and organizations that build knowledge and practice to end discrimination against women and advance cultures of equality. She is an expert in the field of gender and development and has consulted widely with a range of government, academic and development agencies. This was originally published in Fem2pt0


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