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:
- Adopting a gender equality policy
- Developing organizational culture and capacity for gender equality
- Conducting and using gender analyses
- Allocating budget resources for gender equality
- Using sex- and age-disaggregated data
- Developing gender equality indicators
- Doing no harm
- 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!