BRAC USA Joins the Endorsers’ Circle

We are pleased to announce that BRAC USA, a leading international nonprofit with a mission to empower people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy, disease, and social injustice, has endorsed the Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality (Gender Standards). BRAC joins 44 other organizations to become the 45th member of the Endorsers’ Circle.

BRAC has shared a blog post about why they are endorsing the Gender Standards — please check out this reflection on “Unmaking Inequality, Unlocking Potential.”

Information about how your organization can join the Gender Standards Endorsers’ Circle is available here. We hope you’ll join today!

Unmaking Inequality, Unlocking Potential

By: Donella Rapier, President and CEO, BRAC USA

Gender inequality affects women and girls―and men and boys―in every single country around the world. Children grow up seeing examples of gender inequality at home, on television, at school, and in their neighborhoods. As Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn examine in their bestselling book Half the Sky, the “female half” of the world’s population is a source of huge untapped potential for transforming economies and societies. But we still live in a world where women earn less, own less, and are less likely than men to have access to a bank account or own rights to land.

In my own professional life, particularly in my early career in corporate finance, I have seen entrenched inequalities that made it harder―and more unusual―for women to advance to executive roles than men. When I started my career, the ratio of women to men was close to 50/50 at the entry level. As I worked my way up, there was maybe one woman among every ten men at the more senior levels.

I’ve also seen how unconscious biases can contribute to women being disliked and penalized for asserting their leadership, ambition, and expertise.

Globally, gender inequality is not only oppressive, it’s also dangerous. Every year, 12 million girls under the age of 18 become child brides. In their lifetime, 30 percent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from a husband or partner.

We should live in a world where no matter how you identify, you have equal rights, you are treated with fairness and dignity, and you have the same chances as someone who is male or in the majority.

The fact is that inequality is human-made. So it can be unmade.

Putting Power in the Hands of Women

Since our organization was founded 50 years ago, BRAC’s approach has been to put power in the hands of people living in poverty, especially women and girls.

Women are at the heart of all our work. As teachers, community health workers, development professionals, program participants, microfinance clients, artisans, and entrepreneurs, they drive inter-generational change and build stronger communities and economies.

BRAC also understands that gender inequality is not only about women. Gender inequality perpetuates harmful gender stereotypes and biases that affect trans and non-binary people, boys and men, and all human beings who want to live in a more equal, just world.

BRAC works to shift attitudes and practices to expand opportunities available to women and marginalized people. We incorporate gender equality approaches into all our programs to equip women and girls with the knowledge, skills, and support they need to overcome barriers and thrive. BRAC’s graduation programs and our youth empowerment initiatives are particularly powerful examples of our impact on gender equality.

Evidence from these programs proves that when women and young girls have opportunities and resources––such as access to financial services, health care, education, skills training, support networks, and income from a paid job or through social protection—they can lift their families out of extreme poverty. They become agents of change in their own lives and communities.

Through other initiatives, BRAC advocates at community, national, and international levels to end child marriage and other forms of violence against women and children. Our health programs provide access to maternal and child healthcare and family planning services to promote the well-being and rights of women and adolescent girls.

Investing in women and girls sparks long-lasting change that benefits everyone.

The World We Want: Endorsing the Standards

Efforts to promote gender equality are not only integrated into all of BRAC’s programs and operations, but also into our own organizational culture and values.

BRAC’s gender justice and diversity policy prioritizes:

  1. ending violence against women and girls,
  2. challenging discriminatory social norms,
  3. increasing women’s participation in paid work and the public domain,
  4. ensuring workplace safety and equality,
  5. working with men and boys to bring about gender transformative change,
  6. advocating for women’s rights at the local, national, and international policy level.

BRAC is proud to join the Gender Standards Endorsers’ Circle. Through BRAC’s endorsement, we are committed to realizing all eight of the Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality. We are already working to strengthen our accountability mechanisms and train staff to monitor the status of gender equality within our programs and practices. We’re also excited about the impact of allocating more resources to meet our needs for mainstreaming gender equality.

The Gender Standards help organizations reinforce shared values, accelerate momentum, improve accountability, and support a powerful movement of like-minded organizations that prioritize gender equality. There is immense power in our collective voices.

We encourage other organizations to endorse the Standards. Together, we can do more to fight anything that holds women back, deprives them of their rights, or damages their self-esteem or self-respect.

Navanti Group Joins the Endorsers’ Circle

We are pleased to announce that Navanti Group, an applied analytics company that makes complex environments accessible through actionable data, has endorsed the Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality (Gender Standards). Navanti Group joins 43 other organizations to become the 44th member of the Endorsers’ Circle.

Navanti Group has shared a blog post about why they are endorsing the Gender Standards — please check out this reflection on why “Navanti Group Endorses Gender Equality Standards.”

Information about how your organization can join the Gender Standards Endorsers’ Circle is available here. We hope you’ll join today!

Navanti Group Endorses Gender Equality Standards

By: Fred Payne: CEO, Navanti Group
Karine Lepillez: Director of Gender Policy & Practice, Navanti Group

At Navanti Group, we work to understand and address the drivers of conflict in communities around the world and promote the building of resilient, inclusive, and peaceful societies. We work in data scarce and insecure environments, where the voices of those most affected by conflict are often the least heard. These voices — the voices of women, young people, LGBTQ+ populations, people with disabilities, religious and ethnic minorities — are crucial to understanding the dynamics of oppressive systems and the potential for peace.

Gender and inclusion mainstreaming practices are what allow us to consistently integrate gender and other power dynamics in our research and program activities, as well as institutionally. It is why we are pleased to announce our endorsement of the Gender Standards. We join 43 organizations in our commitment to:

  1. Adopting a gender equality policy
  2. Developing organizational culture and capacity for gender equality
  3. Conducting and using gender analyses
  4. Allocating budget resources for gender equality
  5. Using sex- and age-disaggregated data
  6. Developing gender equality indicators
  7. Doing no harm
  8. Ensuring accountability

This year marks a turning point for Navanti as we finalize our Gender Equality and Inclusion Policy and roll out a foundational training series for our researchers on gender, LGBTQ+, disability, and youth sensitivity and engagement in conflict research. We are testing new participatory methods in Niger and Burkina Faso to create safer environments for our women researchers in line with our do no harm approach. In focus groups with women researchers, we discuss their experiences of safety and risk during data collection and adapt our security protocols to their realities. We are also designing a gender marker based on the Gender Standards to ensure every proposal aligns with our values and commitments. Our support for the Gender Standards builds on Navanti’s commitment in 2019 to the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles, a mechanism through which we report yearly on progress to promote gender equality and diversity across our activities.

In addition to a commitment to gender and inclusion mainstreaming, our work demands critical attention to gendered power dynamics and to our own role in supporting shifts toward more egalitarian and just systems, institutions, and relations. This means aiming for transformative impacts, and tailoring gender minimum standards to conflict and peace research in the following ways:

  • We recognize and design for complexity through the application of an intersectional gender and inclusion lens
  • We mainstream trauma-sensitive research practices
  • We systematically gather and analyze data disaggregated by sex, age and disability status
  • We seek gender parity across data collection teams and among participants
  • We prioritize mixed methods research to better understand root causes of gendered violence and peacebuilding
  • We build a culture of learning and collaboration across projects through gender working groups, regular workshops, and a practice of critical reflection
  • We create gender-equitable systems of shared decision-making built on investments in women’s leadership and technical skills

Navanti’s origins are in defense contracting. Within these spaces, harmful gender norms at home and abroad can become mutually reinforcing, with gendered roles and differences seen as barriers to including women on field research teams and consequently to including women’s voices in research data. Shifting to a gender balanced team model and parity among research participants at Navanti has required high-level leadership commitment, a compliance system to ensure gender-sensitive research design, and the hiring of staff specializing in gender equity and inclusion. It has also required – and continues to require – ongoing investment in building relationships of trust and mutual respect across staff and partners, which are necessary to weather the stresses that come with challenging entrenched gender norms. One way we do this is by prioritizing the creation of spaces for reflection and bonding across groups. During researcher trainings, for example, we include perspective-taking exercises to help build solidarity between male and female team members working together in conflict areas. This dual focus on structure and relationship has been instrumental to gender transformative change.

We are thankful to the Gender Practitioners Collaborative for providing a platform through which we can articulate and strive towards a common set of values and practices for gender equal work. We encourage our colleagues to find out more and join us here!

Pathfinder International Joins the Endorsers’ Circle

We are pleased to announce that Pathfinder International, a global health organization with locally led, community-driven programs, has endorsed the Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality (Gender Standards). Pathfinder International joins 42 other organizations to become the 43rd member of the Endorsers’ Circle.

Pathfinder International has shared a blog post about why they are endorsing the Gender Standards — please check out this reflection on “Why Gender Standards Matter.”

Information about how your organization can join the Gender Standards Endorsers’ Circle is available here. We hope you’ll join today!

Why Gender Standards Matter

By: Jodi DiProfio, Senior Technical Advisor, Gender, Pathfinder International

In the baking world, we often see sprinkles as a garnish or afterthought. Have a bland muffin?! Add some sprinkles! And I know what you are thinking – what do baking sprinkles have to do with gender equity?

Metaphorically, a lot. In the world of sexual and reproductive health, there is another type of sprinkle – a “gender sprinkle” – and it’s not a good thing. “Gender sprinkling” is a practice where we “sprinkle” our programs, policies, or activities with a gender lens – but only as an afterthought, once the design stage has been completed. This nearly always fails because key considerations such as budget, indicators, and staffing have already been decided on. Gender, like all good things, must be “baked in”: considered and integrated at the outset of the design.

It is often assumed that organizations working in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are inherently “gender equitable.” But this isn’t necessarily true – without intentionality, organizations cannot reach gender transformative goals. Gender awareness in our programs and within our workplaces often aren’t aligned.

While Pathfinder has long recognized the relationship between gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), we began a more focused undertaking in 2019. This process had the underlying goal of aligning our organizational gender equity policies with the gender transformative programmatic work we conduct around the world.

In 2019, Pathfinder conducted a comprehensive assessment to determine if our internal policies and practices matched our external ones – essentially, were we baking in the right elements? The goal was to elevate Pathfinder’s commitment, and actions, to build gender equity into all that we do – both internally, within Pathfinder’s systems, and externally, in our global programs.

One result of this process was for Pathfinder to officially endorse the Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality.

What are the gender standards?

The Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality are an evidence-based set of standards specific for international development and humanitarian organizations. The standards set out a roadmap – sometimes an aspirational one(!) – for programs and organizations to ensure their work is not just gender aware, but gender transformative. These minimum standards will now serve as a guide for Pathfinder’s programs and activities, as well as our internal operations and organizational culture moving forward.

The Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality are:

Adopt a Gender Equality Policy Utilize Sex- and Age-Disaggregated Data
Develop Organizational Culture and Capacity for

Gender Equality

Develop Gender Equality Indicators
Conduct and Utilize Gender Analyses Do No Harm
Allocate Budget Resources for Gender Equality Ensure Accountability

What is Pathfinder doing to implement the standards?

So how is Pathfinder endeavoring to represent the Minimum Standards for Gender Equality in our operations and programmatic work?

1 Adopt a Gender Equality Policy (Standard 1)

As this process was ongoing, priority gender-supportive organizational policies were rolled out, such as paid parental leave, expanded to include both gestational and non-gestational parents, and a travel policy specifically aimed at supporting nursing parents. Pathfinder also implemented a gender equity provision in our procurement process.

2 Developing Organizational Culture and Capacity for Gender Equality (Standard 2)

In 2019, we launched Pathfinder’s organizational Gender Equity Initiative (GEI) to critically examine how we advance gender equity—both through our programs and internal structures, systems, and policies. The GEI allowed us to comprehensively assess the state of gender equity across our offices in 17 countries. Through this initiative Pathfinder developed and adopted our organizational gender equity strategy – a institutional commitment to gender equality in our operations and programming. Pathfinder also adopted an inclusive organizational definition of gender to guide our work.

3 Analysis, Data & Indicators (Standards 3, 5 & 6)

To hold ourselves accountable to our organizational gender equity goals, Pathfinder has integrated gender-equity indicators in our organizational tracking, with global metrics tracking gender parity in leadership positions, pay equity, and staff capacity building in gender.  Across Pathfinder programs, we are working to fully integrate the minimum standards into our program design, implementation, data collection, and learnings. Pathfinder uses gender-transformative approaches in our programs, which includes compiling sex- and age-disaggregated data, as well as collecting project data on gender equality indicators.

Mulu Getahun, 25 and her daughter Mahlet Belay, at YFS (Youth Friendly Service) room in Addis Kidam Health center, at Agew Awi Zone, Amhara region, Ethiopia.

In Ethiopia, our Act With Her project implements a participatory, gender-synchronized, multi-pronged approach that helps adolescent girls successfully navigate the transition to adulthood by addressing pervasive and harmful gender inequalities, increasing girls’ agency, enabling their capabilities, and ensuring they can access essential services.  You can learn more about what applying a gender lens to our data taught us here.

Activists conducting activities with secondary school grade girls. Photo: Nicole Gill

In Mozambique, Pathfinder’s Impacto project works to improve access to quality contraception and safe abortion services for adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) (ages 10-24) through a rights-based, gender-sensitive, and client-centered approach. This work includes promoting reflection on gender equality and sexual and reproductive rights and dialogues with local leaders and other influential community members to analyze harmful gender norms and practices—such as child, early and forced marriage and gender-based violence. Learn more about how our Impacto program works to integrate gender equality here.

4 Do No Harm (Standard 7)

Through Pathfinder’s comprehensive global assessment, we gained immediate insight into challenges and needs for women and non-binary staff, from policies to practices, and we began to take immediate action. One of these key actions was adopting “do no harm” policies (including safeguarding and gender-based violence), in our program approaches.

5 Allocating Budget & Ensuring Accountability (Standards 4 & 8)

A key organizational principle for Pathfinder is our ‘country-led’ approach – letting our global teams and leadership, including our global leadership council, inform major decisions undertaken by the organization. Part of this work was to conduct a global gender assessment inclusive of a global survey, focus-group interviews, and select in-depth individual interviews. Workshops to validate findings and develop Pathfinder’s priorities were held with our global teams, 70% of participants being global staff. The resulting commitments truly represent Pathfinders across the globe. This has led to a comprehensive organizational gender equity strategy where we monitor and report on progress bi-annually. We have also distributed our global budget differently, directing more resources locally.

Why Now?

The need for organizations to adopt an ‘inside out’ approach to gender equity has never been more urgent. COVID-19 has resulted in millions of women leaving the workforce across the globe. Gender-based violence rates skyrocketed around the world. And, millions of girls were pulled out of school due to lockdowns, leading to increased rates of forced marriage.

Mainstreaming gender equality might be a lofty ideal, but with the right standards in place, we can work towards achieving gender equity and transformation within our organizations and in our programs. The Minimum Standards for Gender Mainstreaming represent research, evidence, expertise, and most importantly, accountability – and endorsing them moves us closer to our ultimate goal of gender equity.

Finally, we encourage others in the global health and development sector to endorse and implement the Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality. We need to bake it in – don’t sprinkle it!

SNV Joins the Gender Standards Endorsers’ Circle

We are pleased to announce that SNV, a not-for-profit international development organization that makes a lasting difference in the lives of people living in poverty by helping them raise incomes and access basic services, has endorsed the Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality (Gender Standards). SNV joins 41 other organizations to become the 42nd member of the Endorsers’ Circle.

SNV has shared a blog post about why they are endorsing the Gender Standards — please check out this reflection on why “SNV is Committed to Promoting Gender Equality.”

Information about how your organization can join the Gender Standards Endorsers’ Circle is available here. We hope you’ll join today!

SNV is Committed to Promoting Gender Equality

By Jennifer Linkletter

Photo credit SNV
A man and a woman work in a rice field in Vietnam, part of an SNV agriculture project.

SNV is a not-for-profit international development organisation that makes a lasting difference in the lives of people living in poverty by helping them raise incomes and access basic services. We focus on three sectors — energy, agriculture, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) — and have a long-term, local presence in around 24 countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Our team of around 1,300 people across the globe are the backbone of SNV. We are subject matter experts who provide brokering and stakeholder engagement, advocacy, fund management, results-based financing, delegated management, and advice within the communities we serve.

SNV is dedicated to a society in which all people are free to pursue their own sustainable development, and no one is left behind. Driven by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), this commitment to equity directs us to focus on gender equality and social inclusion (GESI). For that reason, SNV is proud to announce our official endorsement of the Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality.

Photo credit SNV
Skilled workers build a toilet in Dagana, Bhutan, as part of an SNV WASH project.

We believe in the eight Gender Standards that are set out by the Gender Practitioner Collaborative, which every endorser, including SNV, strives to meet:

  • Adopt a Gender Equality Policy
  • Develop Organizational Culture and Capacity for Gender Equality
  • Conduct and Utilize Gender Analysis
  • Allocate Budget Resource for Gender Equality
  • Utilize Sex- and Age- Disaggregated Data
  • Develop Gender Equality Indicators
  • Do No Harm
  • Ensure Accountability

 

How our systems change approach and local presence help communities

Photo Credit SNV
A man cooks on an improved cookstove provided as part of an SNV Energy project in Mozambique.

While our projects directly benefit millions of people, they also contribute to driving systems change – strengthening institutions and kick-starting markets to help many more people work their way out of poverty, well beyond the scope of projects. Our ambition is for governments and the private sector to mainstream gender equality and social inclusion, thereby providing access to safe water and sanitation, inclusive food systems, and sustainable energy solutions.

SNV’s approach introduces gender- and socially inclusive system changes that promote access to safe water and sanitation, inclusive food systems, and sustainable energy solutions for all. Through analysis of gender norms and different forms of discrimination and power imbalances, we ensure that interventions are targeted, therefore reaching and benefiting the most marginalised segments of the population.

SNV works to strengthen voice, networks, and leadership in the political and public spheres for women, youth, and vulnerable populations. Our interventions also encourage men and women from different backgrounds to reflect on social change and norms in their society, and examine their perceptions about their own identities, and those of others.

Why every development organisation should endorse the #Gender Standards

Photo credit SNV
A woman installs a solar panel as part of SNV’s EnDev project in Kenya.

In this period of both an active COVID-19 global health emergency and pandemic recovery efforts, effectively addressing existing and newly created inequalities is more important than ever. Across the global south, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated gender and youth inequalities and has deepened poverty for the most at-risk populations such as people with disabilities and displaced persons. SNV’s ongoing commitment to implementing projects that respond to gender and social gaps guides us toward other organisations that are similarly committed.

As part of the Endorser’s Circle, we can work together in solidarity and accountability to ensure that gender-responsiveness remains a priority for development organisations across the globe. We encourage other organisations to join the Endorser’s Circle by adopting the Gender Standards.

EDC Joins the Gender Standards Endorsers’ Circle

We are pleased to announce that Education Development Center (EDC),  a global nonprofit that advances lasting solutions to improve education, promote health, and expand economic opportunity, has endorsed the Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality (referred to as the Gender Standards). EDC joins 40 other organizations to become the 41st member of the Endorsers’ Circle.

EDC has shared a blog post about why they are endorsing the Gender Standards – please check out this great perspective on why “Achieving Gender Equity Requires Collaboration.”

Information about how your organization can join the Gender Standards Endorsers’ Circle is available on the “Join the Endorsers’ Circle” page. We hope you’ll join!

Achieving Gender Equity Requires Collaboration

By Hannah Kuntz, International Technical Associate / Co-chair of Gender Working Group, Education Development Center

Gender Work is in Our DNA

Education Development Center (EDC) has a longstanding history of integrating gender sensitivity and awareness into its work, beginning in the US and then expanding internationally. In 1975, EDC produced films for US high school students to raise awareness of how gender stereotyping and socialization affect the life choices of young women. For more than 25 years, EDC’s Women’s Educational Equity Act Center supported 750 field-based projects in the US to promote bias-free education and to increase learning opportunities and outcomes for girls and boys, and young women and young men. Internationally, for more than 30 years, EDC has used interactive audio instruction to strengthen equitable access to learning, particularly in resource lean settings. In 2015, a Gender Working Group was formed by EDC staff eager to build on earlier efforts and ensure that the concept and practices of gender integration are fully understood and reflected in all of the organization’s external partnerships and commitments.

Why We Endorse the Standards

Given EDC’s ongoing commitment to reducing gender gaps and barriers as part of our global mission, it makes sense for us to join the Endorsers’ Circle, a group of organizations committed to upholding the Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality (Gender Standards). Our technical guidance, the ‘how to’ of our gender-responsiveness, outlines six guiding principles informed by the Gender Standards. These principles are applied at all stages of a project lifecycle across our international programming and include:

  • Do No Harm: We take care to avoid exacerbating and / or perpetuating existing gender and social inequalities in our work. This requires an understanding of the context, including the drivers of conflict, political dynamics and gender and social norms in the communities where the intervention is implemented, which is why we conduct and utilize gender research (see below) (Standard 7).
  • Develop Organizational Culture and Capacity for Gender Equality: At all levels of our organization, we share responsibility for promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion as core components of our organizational culture. Our Gender Working Group also facilitates learning opportunities on gender-related topics specific to our international work and provides training to raise awareness among staff and partners on gender equity (Standard 2).
  • Allocate Budget: We allocate resources in project budgets to implement activities to promote equity and inclusion, such as the development of teaching and learning materials to encourage students and teachers to challenge stereotypes and harmful norms, as well as hire staff with gender integration expertise, both full-time personnel and those providing short-term technical assistance (Standard 4).
  • Conduct & Utilize Gender Research: We regularly conduct a gender analysis at the start of every project and build on the findings by developing and tracking indicators and commissioning special studies to assess progress toward mitigating gender gaps and barriers in education, health and economic opportunity during the life of the project (Standards 3, 5, 6).
  • Dissemination of Results: We share evidence of inequity and exclusion with key stakeholders, including donors, implementing partners and government ministries, to ensure lessons learned, recommendations and successful interventions are integrated into longer-term planning and implementation with gender disparities in mind (Standard 8).

These guiding principles have helped us to strive for equity in a more systematic and meaningful way, and we continue to expand this critical lens though capacity and consensus building with our colleagues and partners .

Why Gender Standards Are Important

In spite of concerted efforts by donors, governments, civil society and the private sector during the past 70+ years, gender gaps and barriers persist around the globe. According to the 2021 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index, it will take 135.6 years to close the gender gap worldwide; the index analyzes four dimensions: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. Preliminary evidence also indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated inequities and vulnerability and partially re-opened equity gaps that had been addressed and shrinking.

It is at this important juncture that we join other organizations as an Endorser of the Gender Standards, affirming our commitment to prioritizing gender integration as a key component of our work and acknowledging that this is a collaborative effort. If we are to achieve gender equity globally, especially in countries hardest hit by the pandemic and those with existing high levels of gender inequality and exclusion, we must work closely together. To this end, we hope more organizations will step forward as Endorsers and look forward to learning from and collaborating with this growing community.