The following is a study on gender planning approaches. As China embraces development models within its own borders as well as in developing nations across the globe (most notably Africa), gender mainstreaming will be fundamental to the realization of equality.
This essay initially sets out to determine what is meant by the terms “gender” and a “gender planning approach”. Following on from this definition of terminology, I intend to discuss how gender planning approaches can positively and negatively impact on development interventions. The next section describes two gender planning frameworks; the Harvard Analytical Framework and the Social Relations Framework. These are then compared and contrasted using case studies from development literature. This work then concludes on how the objectives of a gender planning approach should influence the choice of a gender planning framework in a development intervention.
Gender can be defined as “the socially given attributes, roles, activities, and responsibilities connected to being a male or a female in a given society. Our gender identity determines how we are perceived and how we are expected to think and act as women and men, because of the way society is organized” (March et al, 1999: 18). Therefore, a gender planning approach in the development field is one which has “a focus on both women and men and the relationships between them” (Sida, 1997: 10). The emphasis on gender roles and relations is an important factor in determining how the objectives of a gender planning approach are to be achieved in development interventions and is discussed in the analysis on gender planning frameworks. However, an outline of the objectives of a gender planning approach and the impact they have on a development intervention needs to be examined first.
The objectives of a gender planning approach impact the environment of development interventions in three ways; the structure of targeted societies, the organizations involved in development and the control and access of resources.
From the gender planning objectives set out by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), we can glean the kinds of societal transformations that development interventions seek. “It is important to focus on the structural and systematic causes of gender inequalities. Three areas in particular need to be highlighted – disparities in relation to: i) human rights of women; ii) equal participation in political decision-making; iii) equal participation in economic decision making and economic independence” (Sida, 1997: 11). This illustrates that a profound shift in thinking within societies is sought when using the research from gender planning approaches. The aim of confronting the structures which preserve gender inequality when working in a development intervention environment has substantial consequences. Targeted societies, where gender inequalities exist, are liable to resist such changes to existing power structures. The potential for conflict and division at local and national levels of intervention is high. However, the potential also exists for sustainable development through addressing the disparities that occurs between genders.
Mainstreaming a gender planning approach to development interventions is an important organizational goal (Sida, 1997: 12) and requires a transformation of the organizations which are involved in development. “Mainstreaming entails rethinking development goals, strategies, institutions and processes so that the priorities and needs of both women and men are better reflected and gender disparities addressed, it is no longer enough to focus on equality at the level of projects and programmes” (Sida, 1997: 12). The determination to bring about “gender-sensitive development” (March et al: 1999: 22) requires the structures of development organizations themselves to be gender-sensitive. Sida emphasizes this and encourages gender training for its employees (Sida, 1997: 13). The internal organizational changes made to mainstream gender planning approaches ideally lead to development interventions which truly address gender issues of inequality.
Redistribution of the control and access of resources based on gender has been a feature of development interventions (Kabeer, 1994: 292-294). The goals of redistribution are applicable to a successful intervention founded on a gender planning approach. However, Kabeer contends that this may not always be the case. The selection of an inappropriate framework can have negative results. She says that the Harvard Analytical Framework “comes uncomfortably close to promoting the view that any new resource offered to women is automatically in their interests” (Kabeer, 1994: 292). Kabeer cites a Harvard Analytical Framework study from Indonesia in which the World Bank and the Indonesian Family Planning Association linked a women’s credit scheme with a family planning initiative using a form of contraceptive called IUD. “The tying of credit to its [IUD] use distorted the ability of women to make reproductive choices guided by their own needs and priorities” (Kabeer, 1994: 293). This particular intervention demonstrates that there is no guarantee of addressing gender disparities by merely adopting a gender planning approach. The choice of a suitable framework is crucial in a gender planning approach. This leads to the next section of this work which discusses two of the frameworks available to development planners; the Harvard Analytical Framework and the Social Relations Framework.
The two gender planning frameworks analysed in this essay view gender based research from two distinct perspectives. The Harvard Analytical Framework attempts to describe in terms of gender micro aspects of the development intervention arena; how resources are allocated, controlled and accessed. The Social Relations Framework seeks to outline a macro vision of a development intervention by using “concepts rather than tools to concentrate on the relationships between people and their relationship to resources and activities – and how these are reworked through ‘institutions’ such as the state or the market” (March et al, 1999: 102).
The following brief description of these two frameworks is adapted from Chapter 2.2 and 2.7 of A Guide to Gender-Analysis Frameworks by Candida March, Ines Smyth and Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay.
Produced by the Harvard Institute for International Development in 1985, the Harvard Analytical Framework consists of four tools for researchers to use in a development intervention. These are:
Tool 1: The Activity Profile
This tool details which gender does which economic and social activities in a development intervention environment.
Tool 2: The Access and Control Profile – resources and benefits
This “indicates whether women or men have access to resources, who controls their use, and who controls the benefits of a household’s (or a community’s) use of resources” (March et al, 1999: 34).
Tool 3: Influencing factors
The central question of this tool is: Which social features create the disparities between males and females?
Tool 4: Checklist for Project-Cycle Analysis
This is a detailed list of questions which help researchers “examine a project proposal or an area of intervention from a gender perspective” (March et al, 1999: 34).
The Social Relations Framework developed by Naila Kabeer of the Institute of Development Studies in Sussex University uses five concepts to conduct a gender analysis. They are:
Concept 1: Development as increasing human well-being
The central idea embodied in this concept is that development is about increasing human well-being as opposed to solely increasing productivity or economic growth.
Concept 2: Social Relations
This refers to identifying the relationships which “determine who we are, what our roles and responsibilities are and what claims we can make; they determine our rights, and the control that we have over our own lives and those of others…Gender relations are one type of social relations” (March et al, 1999: 103).
Concept 3: Institutional analysis
The concept investigates how “gender inequalities are reproduced across a range of institutions, including the international community, the state, and the market place” (March et al, 1999: 104). Kabeer also includes families and households as a kind of institution.
Concept 4: Institutional Gender policies
Concept four analyses the policies which are enacted by institutions. Kabeer defines two types of policy; gender-blind, “these recognise no distinction between the sexes” (March et al, 1999: 108) and gender-aware which recognise this difference.
Concept 5: Immediate, underlying and structural causes
Concept five looks at the causes and effects of the targeted gender problems on the different stakeholders in the immediate, intermediate and long-term.
In a compare and contrast analysis of these two frameworks what is immediately apparent is that they both view the use of the information collected as eventually raising well-being in the development intervention environment. What differs is the type of well-being sought; the Harvard Analytical Framework stresses economic well-being through the redistribution of resources. The Social Relations Framework on the other hand suggests that the aim of development interventions is to focus on “human well-being” (March et al, 1999: 103).
With this difference in emphasis in mind, there is divergence in the scope of information the two frameworks seek. They offer different answers the question: What kind of gender data should be collected from a development intervention? “The central concern of social relations analysis is to understand the basis for women’s disadvantaged position in society. In doing so social relations analysis ‘gives as much weight to process – how things get done – as to outcome – what gets done’” (Locke and Okali, 1999: 282). This contrasts with the Harvard Analytical Framework which gathers information on the types of activity undertaken, and control and access of resources. This is illustrated in Tool 1 (the Activity Profile). The application of this tool is shown in the Indonesia Community Forestry Project. The Activity Profile for the intervention is divided into the production, reproduction and socio-political activities of a renamed village, Biyasan. The profile then determines in a tick box manner which gender carries out these activities. (March et al, 1999: 38-40).
As a consequence we gain an overview of a development environment from the Social Relations Framework which gives through gender relations “a fuller picture of poverty” (March et al, 1999: 117). Identifying the causes of gender inequality is possible using this framework while the Harvard Analytical Framework “fail[s] to reflect the mechanisms by which women and men themselves seek to change gender relations in order to arrive at their own empowerment” (Locke and Okali, 1999: 283). Kabeer continues, the Harvard Analytical Framework “has some major limitations in the broader context of planning which derive from its methodological focus on the logical relationship between activities rather than the social relationship between people” (Kabeer, 1999: 272).
From a practical point of view, a gender analysis using the Harvard Analytical Framework can be undertaken quickly and provides a “snapshot” factual reflection of the development intervention environment. In contrast a Social Relations Framework gender analysis can be draining on time and money. It is a complex framework and requires not only time to conduct but also a lot of specialized knowledge. The specialized knowledge of the researcher reduces the opportunities for a participatory approach; it has the potential of driving a wedge between stakeholders in a development intervention. This monopoly of knowledge and need for large amounts of information is also apparent in the Harvard Analytical Framework, it “do[es] not specifically require that planners ensure that the community members themselves – women as well as men – analyse their situation” (March et al, 1999: 49). In a case study from Madhya Pradesh cited by David Mosse, the distance between project staff and villagers was considerable. A female villager comments that “today you are sitting on the ground [talking to us], tomorrow you will be sitting on our heads” (Mosse, 1994: 505).
In conclusion, if development is to be sustainable the objectives of adopting a gender planning approach in development interventions need to be achieved. These objectives are to create the conditions in which there is a levelling of gender disparities in relation to equality, independence and participation in political and economic decision-making (Sida, 1997: 11). This implies a profound change in societies across the world. In a development environment the framework which most effectively highlights the inequalities is the Social Relations Framework, “because it deals with more abstract aspects of meaning about gender relations, sees women’s self empowerment as a political project and does not offer ‘quick fix’ recommendations for action” (Locke and Okali, 1999: 284). However, for a Social Relations Approach to effectively highlight gender inequalities and have the far-reaching effects it seeks, the development of an adaptation noted for characteristics of efficiency and participation needs to be developed.
Kabeer, N. (1994) Reversed Realities: Gender Hierarchies in Development Thought. Verso: London.
Locke, C. and Okali, C. (1999) “Analysing changing gender relations: methodological challenges for planning”, Development in Practice. Volume 9, Number 3, pp.274-286.
March, C., Smyth, I., Mukhopadhyay, M. (1999) A Guide to Gender-Analysis Frameworks. Oxfam: Oxford.
Mosse, D. (1994) “Authority, Gender and Knowledge: Theoretical Reflections on the Practice of Participatory Rural Appraisal”, Development and Change. Volume 25, pp. 497-525.
OECD (1998) DAC Guidelines for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development Co-operation. OECD Publications: France.
OECD (1998) DAC Source Book on Concepts and Approaches Linked to Gender Equality. OECD Publications: Paris.
Sida (2000) Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: A DAC review of agency experiences 1993-1998. Department for Evaluation and Internal Audit, Sida: Stockholm.
Sida (1997) Sida’s Action Programme for Promoting Equality between Women and Men in Partner Countries. Department for Policy and Legal Affairs, Sida: Stockholm.