At Resilience BV, we strive to design inclusive programs that aim for a gender specific or transformative change in the long term. This means that we aim to identify project participants’ barriers in access to resources, roles and responsibilities, decision-making power, and underlying norms and beliefs. Based on this insight, we design and implement programs and activities to address the needs and priorities of the women, men, girls, and boys in the communities, businesses, and organizations that we work with. We call these focus points the five building blocks for inclusivity (figure below). Based on these building blocks, we developed four concrete principles to design inclusive program processes and gender analyses. The details are further described in Resilience’s guideline for gender and generational inclusion; but how do we use the four principles in practice?
Figure 1: The five building blocks for inclusivity
One of our projects is the Sustainable Livelihood Development Program (SLDP) in Mozambique, that Resilience implements in collaboration with the Gorongosa Restoration Project and Right to Play. The SLDP aims to contribute to the improvement of the socioeconomic conditions of the communities in Gorongosa National Park’s buffer zone through interventions targeting agricultural production, malnutrition, clean water and basic sanitation, SRHR, and reforestation and biodiversity conservation. The EUR 20 million program funded by the EKN Maputo runs for five years (2022-2027), covering 45,000 direct beneficiaries, among which 15,000 are small-scale food producers. The project primarily focuses on women and youth by following the four principles:
First, we use our ‘gendered eyes’ and continue asking throughout the program: “Who is the person I am dealing with?”. Women’s and men’s roles differ along with their ages, interests, needs, and challenges. Therefore, we pose questions such as “Which intervention will benefit project participant’s needs based on their challenges and opportunities? How does gender play a role in these? What is the influence of my own prejudices and biases?” Using gendered eyes is important for all parties involved in the project, from donor to stakeholders to field technicians. Through training and coaching, we support program staff to develop and strengthen their gender lenses and to sensitively address the different program participants and their needs.
Second, we sensitively (re-)define our selection criteria, project participants, and successes. We include a gender analysis in the inception phase to identify women’s, men’s, boys’, and girls’ needs and priorities. The results inform the selection criteria for project participants and support the formulation of targeted affirmative actions (principle 4). For example, the SLDP team defined to have one leader per farmer group trained, but after consulting the gender team there will now be a male, female, and young leader for each farmer group.
Third, we are realistic and support what’s already happening, identify exceptions, and showcase these examples. There are often many individuals that divert from stereotypical gendered roles and responsibilities. In SLDP, we have encountered a female queen, a young girl in secondary school advocating to not get married, and a married couple with each their own agricultural plot while sharing household expenses. These people are strong examples to address constraining beliefs and perceptions and normalize more positive and equal roles and responsibilities, decision making power, and access and control over resources. Therefore, in SLDP, we share their stories among program participants to facilitate dialogue about gender norms in the community, and we provide them a platform as ‘lead actors’ who interact with and train others.
Fourth, we dare to be bold by including targeted affirmative action to address persistent gender gaps. Our programs include several specific interventions targeting women and youth. Formulating these components in the proposal phase, and ensuring a budget for flexible components throughout the program, is crucial. For example, we know from experience that women want to be engaged in commercial activities but are being challenged by limited access to resources, low literacy levels, and agricultural knowledge. Thus, in SLDP, we have (female-only) saving groups that receive training on financial literacy for both the household and agricultural production.
To maintain this inclusive focus not only in SLDP but throughout all our projects, Resilience created the ‘Guideline gender and generational inclusion in agricultural and rural development projects’ (click here to download). This guideline describes the theory behind gender mainstreaming and provides step-by-step guidance on what to pay attention to per project phase, including how to perform a gender analysis in the field. We also summarized the guideline in a corresponding PowerPoint presentation (click here to download) and videos.