A gender sensitive approach to development and humanitarian aid – means identifying and taking into account the different needs, abilities, and opportunities of girls, boys, women and men. However, while it recognises gender differences and accommodates them in pursuit of achieving our goal of ending extreme poverty, it does not necessarily address root causes or challenge harmful stereotypes or norms.
Instead, in order to achieve its goals, it works around, adjusts to, or compensates for gender differences, norms, and inequities – still giving the programme approach value. For example, a programme that aims to provide services or training to women in a context where women are not allowed out of the immediate area (community or village) without the husband’s permission, instead brings services or training to the women. This does not directly address the social gender norms and power dynamics that are affecting women’s participation in the programme activity, but instead, it finds a way around these obstacles to achieve its objective.
The ultimate aim, however, is to move from 'gender sensitive' to 'gender transformative' in all development and humanitarian work. This means working with communities to transform the root causes of gender inequality and tackle power imbalances at different levels of society.
Gender-transformative programmes build in opportunities that challenge existing harmful gender norms and stereotypes to:
- Improve equitable decision making;
- Increase access to resources;
- Improve the distribution of workload fairly between men and women;
- Reduce GBV and engage women and men in dialogue that will create greater equality and,
- Ultimately lead to more sustainable solutions that benefit all.
For example, implementing programmes that work directly with women on practical needs, such as vocational skills, income generation and budget management, as well as soft skills such as self-esteem or public speaking. At the same time, they work with women, men and traditional or religious leaders to reflect on gender norms that are supportive of joint decision making, of women taking on productive roles and improved communications through couples’ dialogue.
Despite some progress, Sustainable Development Goal 5, ‘Achieve full gender equality and empowering all women and girls’ remains unreached. The World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that at the current rate of progress, global gender equality will not be achieved for another 100 years.
Girls are three times more likely than boys to miss out on an education. Globally, 75% of unpaid work is performed by women and one in three women worldwide have experienced some form of gender-based violence.