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Gender sensitive planning and project design

Dr. Mai Izeldeen Lecture (2)

Gender planning goal

Is the emancipation of women from their subordination, and their achievement of equality, equity and empowerment.

The evolution of the gender planning


During the united nation decade for women (1976 - 85) there were considerable shifts. Shifts in approaches both by academic researchers and by policy makers. Shifts of policy-makers focus from universal concern with welfare oriented, family centered programs to a diversity of approaches emphasizing the productive role of women.

From sex or gender to WID or GAD


The term (women in development) was appeared in the early 1970 by women committee of the Washington, DC, chapter of the society for international development , a network of female development professionals. They were Influenced by the work by Ester Boserup. The term adopted by UN agency for international development (USAID). More recently further shifts in approach in academic research has recognize the limitations of focusing on women in isolation and has drawn attention to the need instead to look at gender and development.


The focus on gender rather than women was influenced by: Oakley (1972) Rubin (1975) They were concerned about the manner in which the problems of women were perceived in terms of their sex ,their biological differences from men rather than in terms of their gender that is the social relationship between men and women, in which women have been systematically subordinated.


The focus on gender rather than women makes it critical to look not only at the category women since that is only half of the story. Men and women play different roles in society, with their gender differences shaped by ideological, historical, religious, ethnic, economic and cultural determinants. These roles show similarities and differences between other social categories such as class and race. Social categories therefore differentiate the experience of inequality and subordination within societies.


The WID approach despite its change in focus from one of equity of efficiency, is based on the underlying rational that development processes would proceed much better if women were fully incorporated into them. It focuses mainly on women in isolation , promoting measures such as access to credit and employment as means by which women can be better integrated into the development process.

In contrast, the GAD approach maintains that to focus on women in isolation is to ignore the real problem, which remains their subordinate status to men.  In insisting that women cannot be viewed in isolation, it emphasizes a focus on gender relations, when designing measures to help women in the development process.

Gender planning and planning for women in development


Gender planning is differs fundamentally from planning for women in development. it is less threatening approach. Planning for women in development is far from popular. By its definition it is an add on, rather than an integrative. Gender planning with its fundamental goal of emancipation ,is by definition a more confrontational approach. Based on the premise that the major issue is one of subordination and inequality. Its purpose is that women through empowerment achieve equality and equity with men in society.

From societal awareness to planning practice

Conceptual awareness of both WID and GAD has not necessarily resulted in their translation into planning practice. The extend to which social awareness or consciousness of inequality has been satisfactory incorporated into planning varies widely. The translation of social categories into planning indicators is neither automatic nor universal has had important implications for those addressing the concerns of gender inequality. For practitioners of development planning suffering from lack of an adequate gender planning methodology problem.



With the endorsement of 1985 UN forward looking strategies, institutions at national and international and non governmental level play lip service to WID. Focusing on women in isolation, ministries of women affairs , WID units . With predominantly female staff. Despite the energy and resources allocated to this work for more than a decade, WID still remains add on to mainstream policy and planning practice.

Problems to develop gender planning framework


Most authorities responsible for development planning were not recognize gender as an important planning issue. Despite the creation of womens ministries, units and bureau , decision making powers largely remain male dominated and gender blind. Political constrains. The majority of policy makers and practitioner on WID/GAD do not themselves have any formal training in the discipline of planning.


The tendency is to recruit women on the basis that they will inherently understand the issue and rely on their good common sense. Feminist academic research , it has not been concerned to identify how complexities of gender relation and division of labor in specific socio economic contexts might be simplified into methodological tools . It has proved remarkably difficult to graft gender onto existing planning disciplines.

Policy, planning and the organization of the implementation

If policy is about what to do, then planning is about how to do it, the organization of implementation is about what is actually done. The term planning process used generally to describe three stages :-

1. policy making : the process of social and political decision making about how to allocate resources for the needs and interests of society, concluding in the formulation of policy strategy. 2. planning : the process of implementation of the policy, often concluding in a plan. 3.the organization of implementation : the process of administrative action to deliver the program design , often resulting in completed product.

Gender planning process used to describe the three interrelated stages of gender policy, gender planning and organization of implementation.  Gender planning methodology referring to the detailed methods by which the process is achieved.