You are here


Design with gender in mind

This blog post was submitted by Patti Kristjanson, Senior Research Fellow, World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), and Gender Advisor, PROFOR

In a talk the other day, Marc Sadler, World Bank Global Lead Economist for Agriculture, said he had a real ‘aha’ moment when reading the Gender in Climate-Smart Agriculture module on the plane on his way to Rome several months ago. What struck him was that we shouldn’t be so focused on monitoring gender impacts. Because we won’t have any if we don’t design projects with gender in mind. That made me very happy.  I put a lot of time into that module, along with many others, and I think his take home message is bang on.
In the module, we argue that climate change and gender issues are intertwined; tackling one, without paying attention to the other, will undermine the effectiveness of project and program interventions and the World Bank and other’s investments more generally. Climate and other resources are not gender-neutral. How they are allocated and distributed shape, and are shaped by, social institutions and politics that influence the livelihoods of men and women as well as their responses to a changing climate and all the other challenges they face. Thus taking into account how incentives, preferences and needs differ between men and women (and disempowered people), what factors enable and restrict their access to resources, and what institutional arrangements can enhance their ability to make decisions that empower them, will improve the effectiveness and equity of a wide range of interventions.
So how do we help people design with gender in mind? Thinking about participation, benefit sharing and gender strategies can help.  Some of the questions to ask in the design stage include:
  • How do people participate in the program or project’s process? 
  • Which social groups and stakeholders are included or excluded?
  • Is the input and participation of women being recognized and valued in program design?
  • What proportion of male and female representatives are on the funding committees?
  • What is the role of gender consultants and experts?
  • How do existing socio-economic and political conditions, governance structures and participatory processes mediate the distribution of costs and benefits?
  • How do the social positions of men and women affect their entitlements to project benefits and how do they negotiate access to such benefits?
  • Will women and the poor access benefits from the projects/programs?
  • Are the practical (i.e. immediate) and strategic needs of women and men considered and being met? Strategic needs address the structural causes that lead to subordination and inequalities.
  • Will there be collection of sex-disaggregated data to evaluate the impact of climate change on men and women?
  • What strategies will help to address gender inequities?
Lessons from projects that design with gender in mind are that it is often small things that can make a big difference. Rotating group leadership rules are an example. Another is ensuring both spouses sign contracts. Getting payments directly to women (e.g. via cellphone as is the case with M-Pesa in Kenya) empowers them significantly.
There are new tools and approaches available to ensure we hear the voices of the disempowered and design with gender in mind – see links to a few resources below. PROFOR’s poverty-forests group is working with the World Bank Agriculture Global Practice to compile these resources and summarize key gender questions that can be addressed with the different (qualitative and quantitative) approaches. Stay tuned as there is still much work to be done in the gender realm!


Links on tools and approaches:
PROFOR forests and poverty toolkit:
CCAFS gender and social inclusion toolbox:
CCAFS gender climate change intra-household survey:
IFPRI women’s empowerment in agriculture index:



For stories and updates on related activities, follow us on twitter and facebook, or to our mailing list for regular updates.

Last Updated : 12-19-2016