The Transition from Soft Power to Hard Power

Posted in — Stories > Stories of Change
November 2, 2021
Ide Gesi C3

There are a number of ways that gender specialists have begun to integrate gender strategies into the existing projects of their organizations; from technical reviews of proposals, to the inclusion of a gender assessment at project kick-off and the need for gender disaggregated data in the reporting cycle.

However, it can be difficult to ensure these processes are fully utilized if there is no consequence for gender-neutral approaches.

One participant that we interviewed found that a key change occurred when a gender strategy went from ancillary to integral to the funding of a project:

Leadership made sure that any proposal that was handed in for these big research programs, they all had to have a gender strategy and the whole program wouldn’t be funded unless the gender strategy was approved. And that changed everything for us.

Moreover, the gender strategy was reviewed by the gender specialists on their team prior to being approved for inclusion in the funding proposal. By tying the need for a gender strategy to the funding of a project, leadership sent a clear message to employees: gender mainstreaming is at the crux of our work.

Once organizations begin to require gender-responsive programming approaches, gender specialists can employ a range of theories and assessments to ensure that the gender strategy proposed is impactful and, ideally, gender-transformative. Many organizations have leveraged Nalia Kabeer’s empowerment equation and the subsequent assessment tool produced by Care International to ensure that gender is integrated in the analysis, interventions and measurement of international development projects.