DM&E Tip: Gender Sensitive Project Design

Cross-posted from the Learning Portal for DM&E for Peacebuilding

We know that conflict and violence affects all people, but not in the same way.  Men and women can be perpetrators and victims; but, often they play different roles and have different needs before, during and after a conflict. 

The differences in gender roles and responsibilities means that in order to be effective we have to target certain activities to particular individuals/groups, as well as “mainstream” a gender lens into all our programs. At the most basic level this means designing gender sensitive programming, and while this includes gender disaggregated indicator data, it is also much more.

Gender Analysis

Conflict analysis is a well-established best practice in peacebuilding (perhaps increasingly so in development work as well) project design. It’s hard to imagine any project being funded without some form of analysis being demonstrated on paper—of course another issue is whether or not it is primary or secondary data, but another issue for another time. 

You might consider including the following points on gender in your context and/or conflict analysis:

  • How has gender roles changed as a result of conflict? Are men and women socio-politically or economically disempowered from their traditional gender role? For example, conflict may have disempowered men by reducing the availability of jobs, thus affecting how they perceive their worth vis-à-vis society? What are the consequences of this for women? And are these changes temporary or long-term?
  • How active are women and men in the peace process or in the perpetration of violence? The answers may indicate opportunities for engagement or leverage.
  • How are local organizations working with men and women? Are there gaps that should be filled? If there is a significant gender imbalance (in either staff or programming), the organization may not be the most appropriate partner; on the other hand, it also provides an opportunity to strengthen the gender practices of that organization.

Other Design Considerations

The Australian Agency for International Development created an excellent guidance note on gender in peacebuilding programming. They suggest the following 10 tips for gender equality in peacebuilding programming:[1]

  1. Engender the data: collect sex-disaggregated data, use gender sensitive indicators
  2. Apply a gender analysis to the conflict-prone situation, including the impacts of conflict and the roles and needs of men and women, boys and girls in peace-building
  3. Ensure that men and women play equal roles in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of peace-building initiatives
  4. Identify and support women’s organizations working for peace
  5. Ensure both women and men have equal access to training and capacity building in all sectors
  6. Appoint equal numbers of men and women in program and technical assistance teams, especially at senior levels; encourage implementing partners to do the same
  7. Provide gender training for all staff and implementing partners involved in peace-building initiatives
  8. Recognize the prevalence and impact of gender-based violence, and be sure to minimize risks and support survivors through all aspects of peace-building work
  9. Take advantage of conflict-related changes in gender roles which empower women
  10. Be patient: maintain realistic expectations for change and avoid a trade-off between speed of action and gender equality

Of course there are also gender considerations for implementation, monitoring and data collection, and evaluation. There’s a whole range of resources that cover gender in all aspects of the project cycle. Consider consulting the following resources.

Hot Resources

Gender Guidelines: Peace-Building by the Australian Agency for International Development

Gender Mainstreaming Strategies in Decent Work Promotion: Programming Tools: GEMS Toolkit by the International Labour Organization

Gender Analysis Tools by the Canadian International Development Agency

Guide to Gender Sensitive Indicators by the Canadian International Development Agency

Presentation 4 in this American Evaluation Association Conference 2010 presentation by CARE on indicators for women’s empowerment disaggregated by type of human agency.

Designing for Results: Integrating Monitoring & Evaluation in Conflict Transformation Activities, Chapter 4, by Cheyanne Church and Mark Rogers


Jonathan White is the Content Manager of the Learning Portal for DM&E for Peacebuilding at Search for Common Ground. Views expressed herein do not represent SFCG, the Learning Portal or its partners or affiliates.



[1] AusAID, “Gender Guidelines: Peace-Building,” p.5, 2006.

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Tags: analysis, design, gender, peacebuilding

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