Why CARE Endorses the #Gender Standards

By Hilary Mathews, Senior Technical Advisor for Gender Program Design, CARE

I’ll admit it: when it comes to lofty global goals, my inner skeptic can get a little loud.  Goals and standards simply don’t mean much unless they engender results.  And too often the aspirations voiced in meeting rooms in New York, Nairobi, or Paris – however well-intentioned they may be – fail to yield tangible change for the people who need it most.  I’ve thus found myself a rather cautious supporter of macro-level platforms for change.  Lately, though, my inner skeptic has been a little more subdued, if not altogether silent.  I find myself increasingly confident that the global development community can move beyond feel-good rhetoric to results; believing that we can generate the kind of supportive action that leads to measurable reductions in household violence, increases in women’s land-ownership, and greater female autonomy over reproductive decisions.  So why the change of heart?

Read on…

In mid-July, members of the Gender Practitioner’s Collaborative (GPC) hit the road to New York City to lead a discussion in conjunction with the United Nations High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The goal for gender equality was one of six SDGs put forward during this year’s forum for intensive review and deliberation.  There was a lot of ground to cover, as gender equality is not only a standalone goal but also “a cross-cutting issue, without which the overarching aims of the Agenda cannot be realized.” In other words, good health, food security, and poverty reduction are integrally linked with the ability of all people to have the power and the choices to realize their full potential – especially those who are systematically marginalized on the basis of gender or other identity factors.

Members of the GPC were on hand at the HLPF to share the benefits and challenges of mainstreaming gender equality within the culture and work of INGOs.  The group recently launched the Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality (Gender Standards). If the mandate to address gender inequality is fundamental and far-reaching, then a broad coalition of stakeholders needs to stand in solidarity with women and girls worldwide, not in words but in action.  INGOs like CARE thus shoulder an opportunity and a responsibility to promote gender equality through the work that they do every day with people around the globe.  The GPC’s Gender Standards provides a helpful framework to support NGOs to tackle this obligation.

Long before the SDGs, many of us with humanitarian and development missions have been standing with the communities we serve to address the unequal gender and power relations that hinder social, economic, and political progress.  Yet until the Gender Standards, there has been no common reference point for the development community that defines what it should mean, at a minimum, to promote gender equality across our work.

Elvia Alexandra Sacvin Chacaj (left) and her sister Angelica (right) pose for a picture outside their home in Chuacorral Village in Santa María Chiquimula, Guatemala. Elvia is a Quach’ Umilal participant and Hain Celestial drawing contest winner. The Qach’umilal (Guiding Star) girls education and leadership program benefits 150 indigenous girls and adolescents from families in western Guatemala by supporting their primary school education.

CARE has its own organizational gender standards, which are well aligned with and, in some areas, go beyond the GPC Gender Standards.  One of the ways we hold ourselves accountable to a strong practice of gender integration is by evaluating every project we implement, in every country, with our global Gender Marker. In addition, CARE has recently released its Gender in Practice website that curates global gender statistics and transformative approaches to gender equality.  We are also passionate about our Gender and Diversity training course, which we require of all staff internally and offer to others externally.  Many organizations that endorse the work of the GPC are spearheading strong organizational practices to promote gender mainstreaming.  To name only a few, World Vision has a methodology for conducting regular gender audits based on InterAction’s gender audit handbook; Land O’Lakes requires every proposal to budget for a gender analysis; and Mercy Corps is a leader in gender equitable recruitment.

Some organizations may be at more nascent stages building out their gender practice.  For them, endorsing the Gender Standards is a public expression of their aspirations and an opportunity to learn from peers.  All of us who endorse the Gender Standards know that there is power in solidarity with our fellow organizations, holding up our collective values and aspirations, sharing our successes and setbacks, and most importantly, urging each other onward to accelerate measurable progress on gender equality.  In the coming months, the GPC looks forward to convening a series of public roundtable sessions to share good practices and enduring challenges tied to each of the eight Gender Standards. In this way, we believe that our standards will be much more than a set of aspirations, but a means to catalyze organizational and programmatic change to benefit the people we serve.

Students outside Qay Prepartory School; Beni Suef, Egypt. ©Gina Nemirofsky/10x10act.org

Whether our commitment to gender equality is grounded in a political or moral vision, a drive for technical excellence, or a bottom-line business case, the organizations who endorse the Gender Standards recognize the imperative to raise the bar on all of our work for gender equality.  We also see the value of collective action in this regard.

What are the reasons you support the Gender Standards? Share your reasons on Twitter using #GenderStandards. If we’ve learned one lesson from the recent HLPF review, it’s that gender equality is attainable, but we can’t get there without deeper and broader engagement.  So quiet your inner skeptic… and join us in supporting the changes we want to see in our organizations and in the world…

Because of their involvement in CARE’s “Journeys of Transformation” project, Ntibimenya Hassan and Mukakimonyo Hassina now have much more love in their marriage.

 

#GenderStandards July 2017 Newsletter

Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to share with you the first newsletter on the Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality. The newsletter includes updates on recent endorsements and tools to help you present the case for endorsing the Minimum Standards in your organization.

In future newsletters we will be highlighting different organizations that are working to implement the Minimum Standards. We would love to hear from you about your experience! Feel free to email us your story, or tell us about it through the #GenderStandards hashtag!

Your partners in the journey for gender equality,

The Gender Practitioner Collaborative

THE #GENDERSTANDARDS NEWSLETTER – July 2017

Endorsing the Gender Standards

New Gender Standards Endorsers

We are excited to have our first Gender Standards endorsers. We welcome NCBA/CLUSA, the Heartland Alliance, and Oxfam America to the Gender Standards community, and thank them for their commitment to mainstreaming gender equality within their organizations!

Endorsers of the #GenderStandards as of July 2017


What Does It Mean To Be an Official Endorser of the Minimum Standards?

The Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality are the result of a multi-organizational effort to endorse a set of practices and protocols that are the minimum bar for gender mainstreaming in international development and humanitarian aid programming. The Gender Practitioner’s Collaborative (GPC) – a consortium of gender experts representing 14 development and aid organizations – advises all donors, agencies, and organizations to review, endorse and execute the Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality in their international development and aid work.

We request that organizations formally and publicly endorse the Gender Standards by:

  1. Agreeing that they are the best minimum practice for integrating gender equality within international development operations and programming.
  2. Agreeing to work towards implementing them at their own pace.
  3. Receiving approval from all appropriate organizational leadership to endorse them.
  4. Submitting an application to endorse the Gender Standards, which will be reviewed.

Endorsing the Gender Standards does not necessarily mean an organization has already fully achieved them. Rather, it means the organization agrees that they are necessary and important, and will take concrete steps towards them. Each endorsing organization’s logo will appear online and in public materials on the Gender Standards. Commitment, adherence and reporting on the Gender Standards is entirely voluntary. The GPC will advertise the Gender Standards to a wide range of donors, agencies, and organizations to seek as many public commitments as possible. Accountability measures around the standards will be at the complete discretion of each organization. The aim here is to build buy-in towards aspirational commitments.


Tools to help ask your organization to endorse the Gender Standards

Are you interested in reaching out to your organizational leadership to ask them to endorse the Gender Standards, but are not sure where to begin? Here are three resources that may be of help.

 

Socializing Gender Standards
US State Department

On April 19th, 2017, the GPC presented the Gender Standards to a broad group of interested allies at the US State Department, organized by the Office of Global Women’s Issues. Participants were very supportive of the standards and asked questions on how they could weave the standards into their work with practitioners.

USAID

USAID requested that the GPC present the Gender Standards to their Gender Working Group on June 14, 2017. This included gender experts and champions across different bureaus at HQ and beyond. USAID affirmed the importance and timeliness of the Gender Standards, and asked questions about how they could go even further, and what systems of accountability could be put into place for those organizations that sign on as endorsers.

Interaction Forum

GPC facilitated a lively game show style session at InterAction Forum 2017 to introduce the minimum standards, and give the audience the chance to engage with examples of what the standards look like in practice. One of these examples included gender audit, a practical tool for conducting organizational gender self-assessments. Sharing from World Vision’s experience, Yeva Avakyan spoke about this effective methodology in catalyzing organizational change on gender issues illustrating how organizations can take practical steps in achieving the minimum standards for gender mainstreaming.

United Nations High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

Our last stop was the UN High Level Political Forum, where we spoke about the Gender Standards as a means for strengthening organizational practices to achieve SDGs. See the story about our session highlighted on Devex.

Gender Practitioners Collaborative Launches Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality on International Women’s Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 8, 2017, 4-6PM — BUSBOYS & POETS, 2021 14TH ST NW, WASHINGTON, DC 

A collective group of gender specialists from 10 different international development and humanitarian organizations will launch a proposed set of minimum standards for mainstreaming gender equality, to be held in Washington, DC, on March 8, 2017.

“International Women’s Day is the perfect moment to launch this initiative,” said Kelly Fish, Senior Gender Advisor at Mercy Corps, one of the initial organizations that helped spearhead the standards. “The Gender Standards draw from the wisdom of women’s and men’s movements from around the world – as well as a diverse set of gender experts, implementers, donors, researchers and advocates – to lift up specific steps that development practitioners should take to advance gender equality.”

Gender equality is one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, as a well as a means towards achieving additional goals such as a zero hunger, good health and economic growth. Evidence on this is ample. For example, if women farmers had an equal amount of resources to men, it could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 100 – 150 million. A more equal involvement of both mothers and fathers in child rearing would help improve health outcomes in infants. And closing the gap between women’s and men’s economic participation could add 26 percent, or US$28 trillion, to global GDP in 2025.

Advancing gender equality is a goal of most international development organizations. However, the path to get there is not always clear. “We came together as a group of gender specialists seeking support and answers on what it takes to do this within our organizations and our programs,” said Elise Young, Senior Advisor for Gender Mainstreaming and Thought Leadership at FHI 360, and one of the co-authors of the Gender Standards. “When we realized that we were all struggling with the same challenges, we decided that creating a common set of standards could help not only us, but other practitioners in the field as well.”

Jenn Williamson, Senior Director for Gender and Social Inclusion at ACDI/VOCA and Gender Standards co-author, affirms the need for a common set of standards. “Both the UN and USAID have their policies on gender equality, as do several other donors and global platforms. However, there has been no central set of operating standards for organizations that are working on the ground to help implement international development initiatives. These standards help change that.”

The Gender Practitioners Collaborative will unveil the Gender Standards at Busboys and Poets on 14th and V, a symbolic place for discussing social justice. Yeva Avakyan, Senior Gender and Evaluation Advisor at World Vision, and Gender Standards co-author, highlights the importance of this launch. “This initiative is about committing ourselves as development practitioners in prioritizing gender equality in our organizations and programs. It requires looking at ourselves in the mirror to see what we can do better at our different organizations, partnering with gender equality movements around the world, and holding ourselves to an even higher level of accountability.”

To review the Gender Standards, visit www.genderstandards.org. To join the conversation on the Gender Standards, visit #GenderStandards, or follow the Gender Practitioners Collaborative on Twitter: @GenderPC.

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The Gender Practitioners Collaborative is an informal group of U.S.-based gender advisors and technical gender experts from international development and humanitarian organizations with a vested interest in promoting the practice of gender equality mainstreaming within our organizations and programs across every sector.

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