Gender Equality Programmes

Practical gender needs emanate from the actual conditions women experience due to the roles ascribed to them by society. Often, these needs are related to women’s roles as mothers, homemakers and providers of basic needs. 

Examples of actions that address practical gender needs

· Reducing women’s workload, e.g., the convenient location of stand-pipes and hand-pumps, providing grinding mills, developing fuel-efficient stoves;

· Improving health, e.g., primary health centres, clean water supply, child spacing/family planning advice;

· Improving services, e.g., primary schools, housing infrastructure, transport facilities; and

· Increasing income, e.g., skills training, credit initiatives, access to markets.

It is sometimes said that ‘women in development’ projects address practical gender needs, while ‘gender and development’ projects address strategic gender interests. 

Strategic gender needs are what is required to overcome the subordinate position of women to men in society and relate to women’s empowerment. Such needs vary according to the economic, political, social and cultural context. Most governments now acknowledge the need to create opportunities which enable women to address their strategic needs.

Examples of actions that address strategic gender needs:

  • Improving education opportunities, e.g., adult literacy classes, female teachers provided as role models, gender-aware textbooks;
  • Improving access to productive assets, e.g., legal status on land ownership, rights to common property, bank accounts;
  • Enabling women to take part in decision-making, e.g., participation in elections; representation at the local, provincial and national levels; establishing and supporting women’s groups; and
  • Promoting equal opportunities for employment, e.g., equal pay for comparative jobs (even if there is a gender division of labour), increasing women’s access to jobs traditionally done by men.