Gender Mainstreaming: Taking Action, Getting Results

Gender approach, gender analysis and consideration of gender-sensitive indicators are required for developing gender-sensitive programs and achieving the goals of gender equity and equality.

The approach ignoring the social and economic differences between men and women is considered to be gender blind. A comprehensive analysis of the country’s economics is impossible without considering this significant aspect. Gender perspective needs to be applied to economics analysis of the rate of women’s unemployment in developing countries, for example. Terms of gender equality and equity have got similar meanings. Thus, gender equality means equal rights for both men and women, while gender equity denotes fairness in the distribution of men’s and women’s responsibilities. For example, men and women can have a claim on the same executive post. Still, most managers are men, while women are expected to be under their ferrule. The majority of employers would give preference to male specialists because they will not need maternity leaves. This phenomenon of favoring men over women is called gender bias.

First Conference on Women held in Mexico in 1975 was a significant step forward. The main objective of the meeting was women’s full integration into social development. The second Conference on Women was held in Copenhagen in 1980, the third – in Nairobi in 1985. The questions of women’s equal footing with men were raised at these meetings. Nairobi conference indicated a shift to the gender perspective in economics analysis, considering the difference between women and men within various spheres of life. Gender questions were discussed at a number of UN meetings in 1990s. Human rights conference in 1993 coined the concept of reproductive rights as human rights. The evolution of understanding presupposed the shift of emphasis from statistic and medical aspects to accepting the differences between genders and providing equal rights and opportunities in various spheres of life.

The term gender mainstreaming denotes the strategies aimed at achieving the goal of gender equality. It presupposes shift to the gender perspective an accepting the existing differences in men’s and women’s opportunities. Other ways for reaching the goal are taking into consideration gender relations, changing the current legislation concerning the problem and gender analysis. Gender analysis consists of the investigation of the nature of differences and establishing the cause-and-effect relations between gender differences and inequality. Knowing the roots of the problem, it would be easier to look for its solutions. For this reason, gender analysis may be regarded as an integral part of gender mainstreaming. It is helpful for defining the socio-cultural variables and following manipulating them.

A gender-sensitive indicator denotes qualitative or quantitative measurements of changes in gender-related spheres in the course of time. This testing is helpful for monitoring the differences between men and women arising from their gender roles. The latest measurements indicated decreasing the gender gap. The United Nations Organization conducts statistical researches in three main dimensions, such as social resources, political power and employment. Analysis of quantity of women-parliamentarians, women-managers or women receiving a post-graduate degree might be good examples of gender-sensitive indicators. Still, statistics data is insufficient for making all necessary measurements, and qualitative testing requires conducting surveys and further analysis of the answers. Status within the family, material resources, time burden and career choices are the most popular dimensions for making the measurements. Thus, the examples of gender-sensitive indicators might be analysis of participation of women in family decision-making and/or bread-winning, analysis of statistical data concerning the number of women owning land and women’s answers concerning the distribution of household chores in their families.

Gross Domestic Product (GPD) measures the official economic output of the country using a technical approach to data analysis. For this reason, it might be regarded as a gender blind indicator. The fact is that only quantitative data is used for assessing this parameter, while its qualitative characteristics are not taken into consideration. At the same analysis of gender differences could have a significant impact on these results. For example, notwithstanding the present-day moving towards gender equality and equity, there are certain differences in financial compensation for men’s and women’s labor. It might become a hindrance for estimating GPD per capita precisely.

Notwithstanding the evolution of gender approach and emphasis on human rights of reproductive health, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) clinics enjoy wider popularity among men than among women. Due to their misconceptions concerning the rules of examinations at such institutions, women do not attend STD clinics as often as men do. The prevalence of male patients in these institutions might be considered to be one of the gender-sensitive indicators. Women might be afraid of being tested against their wishes or of their partners’ disapproval. The main goal of a gender-sensitive program is to guarantee equal rights for reproductive health for both men and women. It is important to raise the awareness of the population concerning the procedures of clinical testing, putting emphasis on its optional and anonymous character. “It is achieved also through the set of learning mechanisms in ongoing socialization experiences” (Klein 40). The measures that need to be taken for achieving these goals are creating separate sex sessions at clinics and spreading information concerning clinical testing and its benefits. For enhancing the effectiveness of the program, its developers should choose gender-sensitive indicators, such as comparative analysis of male and female patients and their motivation for undergoing a test.

Advocacy is defined as a set of actions aimed at the mobilization of individuals and organizations for supporting specific policies. Gender-sensitive advocacy presupposes supporting gender-related programs, strategies and legislation. Producing a gender-sensitive advocacy plan requires preliminary analysis of the significance of the problem, its actuality for both male and female populations as well as expected positive consequences of changing the existing situation. “Questions concerning the change of gender relations within the organization must be understood and addressed before they can truly implement a gender and development strategy as part of their organizational structure” (Mudgal 225). After defining the program objectives, it is possible to proceed to planning concrete actions, evaluating possible risks and identifying the target audiences. The next step after collecting the necessary information would be searching for potential partners, such as women’s organizations, for example. The three most important ways for making the plan gender-sensitive are analysis of the program on both male and female target audience, choice of gender-sensitive objective and gender-sensitive indicators.

The main difference of the concepts of a network and coalition is in sharing the common interests by the participants. Members of a network have got common interests; it might be a smaller group, such as women labour union at a concrete organization. Members of this union have common interests and objectives. The coalition would consist of labor unions of several organizations, not sharing common interests but uniting their efforts for achieving the main goals of gender equity and equality.

Women have been struggling for equal civil rights with men since nineteenth century. Within the latest decades, the gap was decreased, still, the question of gender discrimination remains topical.


  1. Gender Mainstreaming: Taking Action, Getting Results, UNFPA, 2008.
  2. Klein, Susan. Handbook for Achieving Gender Equity through Education. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2007. Print.
  3. Mudgal, Shubha. Feminism and Status of Women. Jaipur: Book Enclave, 2007. Print.