Resources to Support Inclusive and Equitable COVID-19 Response #2

The COVID-19 pandemic has reverberated across the world, laying bare power inequalities and threatening to set back decades of gains on gender equality and social inclusion. The pandemic has been especially devastating for marginalized populations around the world who face disproportionate hardship in the face of COVID-19. This is why gender equality and social inclusion is critical for international development and humanitarian response organizations as they work on adapting program responses and staff wellness initiatives.  

Members of the Gender Practitioners Collaborative (GPC) and the Endorsers’ Circle have been collecting data as well as developing and sharing resources to support inclusive and equitable design, programming, and implementation for COVID response and recovery efforts.  

This post is the second in a series of “round ups,” in which we will periodically share a summary of recently published resources from GPC and Endorsers Circle Members. Please continue to follow us for updates!  

The Asia Foundation 

The Asia Foundation has published several blog posts and webinars addressing the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on women and girls, including the need to address gender-based violence. 

International Rescue Committee (IRC) 

The International Rescue Committee has published several technical guidance documents to guide humanitarian programming across various sectors, to overcome the digital gender gap with the increase in remote service delivery, support humanitarian staff in a gender-sensitive manner, a global gender analysis in partnership with CARE and a press release highlighting the increase in barriers to women accessing GBV services. 

Jhpiego 

Jhpiego developed operational guidance that synthesizes global recommendations, current best evidence and critical resources to help health care providers, managers and leaders to maintain essential health services, including for family planning, gender-based violence, and maternal health, during and after the pandemic, and ensure families receive the care and treatment they need and deserve. 

Myra Betron, Director of Gender at Jhpiego, also co-authored a commentary in the journal Global Public Health, discussing important gender determinants to both men’s and women’s vulnerabilities to COVID-19 and calling on the global health community to unpack and address these early in the COVID-19 pandemic response. 

Save the Children 

Save the Children has developed various organizational-level technical initiatives to address gender and social inclusion including during COVID response: 

Yeva Avakyan, Associate Vice President of Gender Equality at Save the Children, also co-authored an article in the journal Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters, that discusses how emphasizing the needs of “women and girls” doesn’t always focus on the systemic nature of inequality and marginalization and argues for a stronger understanding of discriminatory systems and power hierarchies that better inform programming and advocacy. 

Please check out these great resources and check back for future updates, as we will share additional guidance and information about how our members and endorsers are promoting gender and social inclusion as part of COVID-19 response. 

Resources to Support Inclusive and Equitable COVID-19 Response

The COVID-19 pandemic has reverberated across the world, laying bare power inequalities and threatening to set back decades of gains on gender equality and social inclusion. The pandemic has been especially devastating for marginalized populations around the world who face disproportionate hardships in the face of COVID-19. This is why gender equality and social inclusion is critical for international development and humanitarian response organizations as they work on adapting program responses and staff wellness initiatives. 

Members of the Gender Practitioners Collaborative (GPC)  and the Endorsers’ Circle have been collecting data as well as developing and sharing resources to support inclusive and equitable design, programming, and implementation for COVID response and recovery efforts.  

This post is the first of a series of “round ups,” in which we will periodically share a summary of recently published resources from GPC and Endorsers Circle Members. Please continue to follow us for updates! 

ACDI/VOCA 

ACDI/VOCA has published blog posts and a resource to support programming and internal operations in the integration of gender and social inclusion as part of COVID-19 adaptations and response: 

 CARE 

CARE has published a series of gender analyses and guidance briefs to support gender integration and the protection of the rights of women and girls: 

  • Global Rapid Gender Analysis (RGA) on COVID-19, conducted in consultation with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), is for humanitarians working in fragile contexts that are likely to be affected by the COVID-19 crisis. It is organized around broad themes and areas of focus of particular importance to those whose programming advances gender equality and reduces gender inequalities. 
  • Regional and Country Rapid Gender Analyses have taken place in almost every region (Latin America, East Central & Southern Africa, West Africa, Asia, and Middle East & North Africa) and several countries where CARE operates. 
  • Gender Implications of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Development and Humanitarian Settings was developed before the Global RGA, to review lessons learned from previous public health emergencies. It reviews gender implications of COVID-19 across sectors and provides recommendations for those providing health service delivery, humanitarian organization, national governments and donors. 
  • Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Women and Girls’ Economic Rights: As the fallout from the pandemic deepens, CARE is drawing attention to the short- and longer-term effects of the crisis on women’s economic wellbeing. This brief provides in-depth suggestions on how to integrate a gender lens into specific aspects of the economic justice and rights discussion. 
  • Gender-based Violence (GBV) and COVID-19 Guidance Note: This guidance has been prepared for CARE staff to adapt existing GBV prevention, response and risk mitigation programming, as well as internal and external messaging. 
  • Food & Nutrition Security Pandemic Response Program Brief: This is a brief overview of CARE’s Food & Nutrition Security Pandemic Response Program. The program builds on She Feeds the World’s holistic model to improve food and nutrition security by helping women farmers claim their rights and receive the support they need in the face of the pandemic.  

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) 

CRS has published a series of guidance for partners related to gender and COVID-19 that is available at CRS’  Institute for Capacity Strengthening  site. This site is continuously being updated with new materials and translations of existing materials. Examples include: 

Oxfam 

Oxfam America has published a series of blog posts articulating key considerations for COVID response: 

 Please check out the great resources and check back for future updates, as we will share additional guidance and information about how our Members and Endorsers are promoting gender and social inclusion as part of COVID-19 response.  

Announcing the #GenderStandards Endorsers’ Circle

The Gender Practitioners Collaborative (GPC) is pleased to announce a new benefit for organizations that have formally endorsed the #GenderStandards!

Endorsing organizations will now be known as part of the #GenderStandards Endorsers’ Circle and can display the Endorsers’ Circle logo (right) on their website and promotional materials.

Becoming an official endorser means that a development and humanitarian aid organization agrees that #GenderStandards are the minimum bar for gender equality mainstreaming within its programs and organization and is committed to adopting them over time.

To date, 30 organizations have joined with GPC members in endorsing the #GenderStandards.

If your organization is interested in joining the Endorsers’ Circle, information on the process is available at http://genderstandards.org/get-involved/

Marching Forth for Gender Equality

By Sahar Alnouri and Yeva Avakyan

On March 4, 2019, Save the Children hosted the Gender Practitioners Collaborative in an event celebrating the second anniversary of the release of the Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality. At the event, CEOs from Plan International, FHI 360, Banyan Global, and Save the Children US celebrated the successes of the standards and reflected on next steps.

The Gender Standards address programmatic topics, such as indicators, data disaggregation, Do No Harm principles, and the use of gender analysis. They also tackle issues pertaining to organizational processes, such as accountability, budgeting, internal capacity, and shifting organizational culture to achieve sustainable change. This dual perspective was echoed by Yeva Avakyan in her opening remarks, stating: “We need a comprehensive approach that cuts across programmatic and organizational areas of our work” to advance gender equality.

During the first panel, titled “Leading the Charge for Gender Equality,”  the four CEOs discussed both the programmatic and organizational components of achieving gender equality. Carolyn Miles, of Save the Children US, and Tessie San Martin, of Plan International USA, focused on gender equality in their organizations’ programming. Miles stated that achieving breakthroughs for children is not possible “if we do not address gender inequality.” San Martin reinforced this statement, saying: “We’re not seeking to just improve. We want to transform. And we don’t think we’re going to transform until we get to the root causes of gender inequality.”

Patrick Fine, of FHI 360, noted that the Gender Standards have helped to encourage accountability at his organization. He said endorsing the standards has affected how FHI 360 allocates resources within the organization, such as investing in employee training. Meaghan Smith, of Banyan Global, discussed how data from gender analyses can provide an important opportunity for field staff to have conversations on the Gender Standards in a culturally relevant way.

The Gender Standards were not developed by one organization, or funded by a single donor. They were conceived and drafted by the Gender Practitioners’ Collaborative (GPC), a working group made up of gender specialists from US-based humanitarian response and development agencies who lead gender integration in their organizations. After drafting the Gender Standards, the GPC invited practitioners from around the world to review and provide comments; almost two hundred practitioners offered feedback on the standards before they were finalized.

In addition to the CEO panel, lead gender technical specialists from the US Department of State, Mercy Corps, Chemonics, ACDI/VOCA and IRC reflected on the way forward.  Several of the gender technical leads noted the importance and challenges of maintaining accountability for gender mainstreaming within their organizations. Jenn Williamson of ACDI/VOCA said that the Gender Standards have provided a good framework to reflect on and continuously strengthen her organization’s work to promote gender equality.

While the event celebrated the uptake of the gender standards – from nine endorsing organizations in 2017 to 35 today – both panels acknowledged the need for continued work to achieve gender equality within organizations and programs. As Kelly Fish from Mercy Corps said, “We cannot move the needle on gender equality in our programming if we are not ‘walking the talk’ and looking internally at both our operations and policies.”

If you missed the live stream, you can still watch the recording here

Reflections on the Gender 360 Summit: Voices of the GPC

On June 11, 2018, FHI 360 and other sponsoring organizations hosted the third annual Gender 360 Summit in Washington, DC. This year’s theme was “Positive Boy and Girl Development,” with sessions that explored the intersections of education, health, economic empowerment and gender-based violence among girls, boys, and youth of diverse gender identities. A recording of the livestream and resources from the Gender 360 Summit are available here.

Members of the Gender Practitioners Collaborative (GPC) attended the Summit and participated in activities ranging from facilitating Gender Lounge table discussions, speed mentoring, moderating fireside chats, and presenting on the Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality. Below are a series of reflections and takeaways on key themes from the Summit written by members of the GPC.

Expanding “Gender” to Include Youth
Elizabeth Silva, Senior Program Officer, Women’s Empowerment Program, The Asia Foundation

The theme of positive girl and boy development for the 2018 Gender 360 Summit was a critical topic. Panels explored the intersections of gender issues and health, education, economic empowerment and gender-based violence among girls, boys, and youth of diverse gender identities. Over the past few years we have seen an increased commitment among donors and development organizations in elevating and responding to gender issues among girls and boys. The U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls is one such positive development, as it has drawn additional resources and attention to the fact that around the world, girls are often not provided with the same opportunities as boys, and that adolescence is such a critical point in their lives. This presents the unique opportunity to intervene and change the trajectory of their lives.

I had the privilege of serving as a facilitator for a gender lounge roundtable discussion about girl-focused gender analysis, which spotlights the specific challenges facing girls. Boys play an important role in this analysis as well, since they are central in examining and comparing the different levels of power, needs, constraints, and opportunities facing girls. Two key issues the conversation centered around included: 1) All gender analyses should (but rarely seem to) consider the roles, norms, opportunities and project impacts related to girls and boys; and 2) There are not enough quality gender analyses being conducted for youth programs, which too often remain gender blind. While much work remains, the Gender 360 Summit theme was very timely, and is an example of thought leadership on gender equality work with girls’ and boys’ that will move the development community forward on this important issue.

“Walking the Talk” on Inclusion
Jennifer Collins-Foley, Senior Advisor, Inclusive Development, World Learning

The Summit organizers are to be commended for their proactive attention to integrating gender and social inclusion throughout the format, speakers and participants. Examples include: attendees were asked at registration if they need special accommodations; sign language interpreters were present throughout the sessions; and the event was livestreamed, making it accessible to those who could not participate in person. The organizers clearly prioritized diversity among the speakers, particularly voices from the Global South, resulting in discussions where each speaker provided a unique perspective. Discussions consistently moved beyond the gender binary, exploring how gender and social inclusion analysis and approaches can strengthen development outcomes.

A session on “Cutting Edge Resources” offered participants a valuable new tool to expand the gender analysis lens and embrace the imperative of social inclusion. The Transforming Agency, Access and Power (TAAP) Toolkit and Guide for Inclusive Development provides a new approach to inclusive research and development. This toolkit offers an analytical framework and practical resources to enable users to identify who is left behind, reasons why and how it impacts agency, access and power, and offers guidance for the development of action steps toward inclusive, positive social change.

The Gender Summit 2018 has set a new, high standard for applying the principles of inclusion and set a model that we hope more conferences – and organizations – will follow.

Inclusive Partnerships Are Necessary for Sustainable Change
Hilary Mathews, Director for Strategy and Operations, Gender Justice Team, CARE USA

One of the “principles in action” that was represented so well at the Gender 360 Summit was the idea that social change processes require broad-based partnerships. Realizing gender equality and positive girl and boy development depends on change on multiple levels – within individuals, in communities, and throughout social and institutional structures. This is complex and political work, and we know we can’t confront and dismantle the forces of inequality and exclusion without collaborating across a diverse set of actors, each according to their competencies.

The Summit brought together an impressive array of development stakeholders as speakers and participants, representing INGOs, governments, civil society groups, activists, multilaterals, and academia. The value of and need for collective action was captured not only in this diverse representation, but also in discussion throughout the day, and in the forthcoming Gender 360 Summit outcomes statement, which will reflect critical synergies and a common advocacy platform issuing from the proceedings.

Beyond Gender Norms, Uncovering Power Dynamics
Dina Scippa, Senior Technical Advisor, Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality, Winrock

Even though gender inequality remains one of development’s most intractable issues, it is a profoundly exciting time in the global movement for equality. From the most recent G7 meetings where a Gender Equality Committee was formed; to sustained focus on gender within the SDGs; to thousands who have come forward to protest sexual harassment and violence with the #MeToo global movement, important conversations are happening globally. Development organizations, donors, companies, academic institutions, and the private sector are discussing how to support gender equality more meaningfully and deliver on commitments. But is it enough? Gender inequalities intersect with other aspects of oppression, which result in unique constellations of experience, impact and opportunity affected not just by gender, but race, sexuality, ability, caste, marital status, and citizenship (to name a few).

The Gender 360 Summit played a critical role in convening experts from a diverse range of sectors on key issues in addressing gender equality and social inclusion, with an acute appreciation of how intertwined, and intersectional, inequality is. What was abundantly clear at this year’s conference is how fundamental it is to leverage different sub-sets of expertise to address the interplay between gender and interconnected forms of discrimination. Improving opportunities for women and girls requires a fundamental change in societal norms, attitudes, and power. Looking through the lens of intersectionality is ever more critical to understanding the complexity—particularly of inequality—in the lives of women and girls. To promote effective and sustainable progress, experiences and identities of women and girls cannot be reduced to a single reality or prioritized at the expense of others, leaving other elements invisible and unaddressed.

Inclusive Mentorship and Peer Learning
Jenn Williamson, Senior Director of Gender and Social Inclusion, ACDI/VOCA

Like many conferences, a valuable aspect of the Gender 360 Summit is the opportunity for networking and learning exchange among colleagues. These opportunities are particularly important for young women who are less likely to receive advice from managers and senior leaders on how to advance and have less access to mentoring opportunities. I was delighted to participate in a “speed mentoring” session that gave me the opportunity to engage with talented and dedicated young people who are already achieving great things and are eager to learn how to grow their potential, their skills, and their opportunities. Mentoring and working with these young professionals not only benefits them, but it strengthens our organizations as they bring innovative ideas and new perspectives to our teams, organizations, and approaches. Furthermore, as we hope to better engage youth in our programming, we must improve this in our own organizations through mentoring and other ways that enable them to own processes and grow.

During one of the rounds, a woman joined my group who would be classified as a mid-career professional. She began her career in her home country in West Africa, transferring to DC headquarters not long ago. She tentatively joined my group, asking, “Am I too old to ask for a mentor?” It struck me how important it is that we not only mentor young people but that we also continue to ensure access to this important professional development resource for people of all ages, genders, and social identities. Because the Gender 360 Summit deliberately brought together people of different genders, ages, sexual identities, nationalities, and physical abilities and openly emphasized inclusion and accessibility, the conference facilitated learning and sharing as well as networking opportunities that are frequently not available to people in marginalized groups. This opportunity for learning and networking is particularly important for people in marginalized groups who have had less access to mentoring and career support throughout their professional careers. So, of course my answer was and will continue to be: “You’re never too old or young to seek a mentor!” It is important that we seek and offer mentoring—and peer learning—inclusively. Mentors and mentees will all benefit from expanded opportunities to share experiences and gain new perspectives in our professional development.

If you have a story to share about how your organization is promoting gender equality, inclusion,  or positive boy and girl development using the #GenderStandards, please reach out to us on Twitter @GenderPC or via email info@genderstandards.org. This blog was compiled by Jenn Williamson.