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Feminist International Assistance Gender Equality Toolkit for Projects

Table of Contents


On June 9, 2017, Canada launched the Feminist International Assistance Policy anchoring its commitment to put gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls at the heart of its international development, humanitarian, and peace and security efforts.

Evidence clearly demonstrates that this is the most effective way to reduce poverty and create a world that is more inclusive, more peaceful and more prosperous. By eliminating barriers to equality and helping create better opportunities, women and girls can be powerful agents of change and improve their own lives and those of their families, communities and countries. This requires engaging men and boys in transforming the rigid roles and norms that lead to inequalities. Gender equality benefits everyone.

This means Canada prioritizes the investments, partnerships and advocacy efforts that have the greatest potential to close gender gaps, eliminate barriers to gender equality and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

As such, partners seeking international assistance from Global Affairs Canada (GAC) are expected to ensure active and meaningful participation and decision-making by women and girls in all initiatives—from project design to implementation and through monitoring and evaluation. It is important that women and girls know about their rights, and that they have advocates working on their behalf, to promote and defend those rights. To do so, it is necessary to work closely with stakeholders that advance women’s rights—including local women’s organizations.

This toolkit provides guidance for designing and implementing feminist international assistance programing. Stronger projects are those that are rights-based and that focus on addressing the root causes of gender inequalities within historical, social, cultural, economic and political barriers.


Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women
Global Affairs Canada
gender-based analysis plus
gender-based violence
gender equality
gender equality strategy
logic model
project implementation plan
platform for action
performance measurement framework
project steering committee
results based management
sexual and gender-based violence
sexual and reproductive health and rights
terms of reference
violence against women and girls


Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy puts gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls at the heart of international development, humanitarian, and peace and security efforts.

Gender equality means that diverse groups of women, men and non-binary people are able to participate fully in all spheres of life, contributing to an inclusive and democratic society
This toolkit provides guidance on how to plan for, implement, monitor and report on gender equality outcomes within the feminist approach. Aligned with the project cycle and anchored in results-based management, the toolkit is designed to be used by GAC’s project officers and implementing organizations. This toolkit focuses on improving the achievement of gender equality outcomes.

Quick reference to tools

This toolkit provides support on gender equality within the context of GAC’s results-based management (RBM) templates project documents and processes for projects as outlined below.

RBM Project document: Project proposal

Managing for gender equality outcomes: 

  • The project design team includes gender equality expertise
  • A context-specific gender-based analysis is conducted to inform the design of the project, including an assessment of the capacity of partner institutions to achieve gender equality outcomes.
  • Project commitments to gender equality outcomes are reflected throughout the project proposal.
  • Women and girls, including women’s organizations that advance women’s rights and gender equality civil society advocates, are consulted and involved in the development of the project proposal.

Tool(s): All tools

RBM Project document: Logic model (LM)

Managing for gender equality outcomes:

  • Gender equality outcomes, based on findings from the gender-based analysis, are presented in the logic model at the intermediate outcome level, supported by immediate outcomes and outputs.
  • For gender equality specific projects (for which gender equality is the principal objective of the initiative) gender equality outcomes are presented at all levels of the LM.
  • Gender equality outcomes contribute to one or more of the three overarching gender equality objectives in GAC’s feminist international assistance policy.

Tool(s): 5

RBM Project document: Performance measurement framework (PMF)

Managing for gender equality outcomes: 

  • All results have sex-age disaggregated and gender-sensitive indicators
  • Baseline data and targets are sex-age disaggregated.
  • Targets are set high enough to reduce gender inequalities within the scope and influence of the project

Tool(s): 6

RBM Project document: Risk register

Managing for gender equality outcomes: 

  • Internal/external risks to the achievement of gender equality outcomes are identified.
  • Gender equality issues that may pose a risk to the achievement of the project’s outcomes are identified.
  • Mitigation strategies are proposed for gender equality-related risks.

Tool(s): 7

RBM Project document: Project implementation plan (PIP)

Managing for gender equality outcomes: 

  • A Gender Equality Strategy (GES) is drafted, completed and/or validated and informed by baseline studies that require sex-age disaggregated data and analysis.
  • Women and girls are consulted and involved in the elaboration of the PIP and GES.
  • Gender inequalities and activities/specific measures to address them are identified throughout the project.
  • Gender equality training for project technical staff and partners is planned.
  • The LM and PMF are updated based on the gender-based analysis and GES.
  • Local/Canadian/international gender equality expertise is identified.
  • Roles and responsibilities related to the achievement of gender equality outcomes are outlined for all project team members and partners.

Tool(s): 10

RBM Project document: Budget

Managing for gender equality outcomes: 

  • Adequate financial resources are allocated for gender equality expertise, activities and related equipment/materials, training, monitoring and reporting.

Tool(s): 8

RBM Project document: Annual Work plans

Managing for gender equality outcomes: 

  • The GES is reviewed annually and updated as needed based on monitoring reports.
  • The Annual work plan has gender equality activities and budget allocations across the project based on the GES.

Tool(s): 11

RBM Project document: Narrative Reports

Managing for gender equality outcomes: 

  • Report on progress toward the achievement of gender equality outcomes in the LM and PMF and contributions to the three overarching gender equality objectives in GAC’s Feminist International Assistance Policy.
  • Review and update the LM and PMF.
  • Identify challenges/barriers to the achievement of the project’s gender equality outcomes and identify strategies to overcome them.
  • Identify new or emerging opportunities to support gender equality outcomes.
  • Present good practices, evidence-based success stories, lesson learned and case studies on gender equality.

Tool(s): 12 & 13

RBM Project document: Financial Reports

Managing for gender equality outcomes: 

  • Report on expenditures to support gender equality outcomes, with an explanation of variance from the estimated budget allocation for that year.

Tool(s): 8

RBM Project document: Project Steering Committee (PSC)

Managing for gender equality outcomes: 

  • Include gender equality advisors, gender equality-focused stakeholders and advocates at Project Steering Committee (PSC) meetings.
  • Provide adequate time for a discussion on gender equality as a substantive standing agenda item at PSC meetings.

Tool(s): 11

RBM Project document: Monitoring & Evaluation

Managing for gender equality outcomes: 

  • Include progress on gender equality outcomes in project monitoring noting challenges, opportunities and project design and resources, budget allocations and management accountability for GE results.
  • Actively involve project beneficiaries, particularly women and girls as well as gender equality project stakeholders, in participatory monitoring and evaluation.
  • Specify gender equality as a substantive area in monitoring and evaluation TORs and allocate significant points in selection grids for relevant GE expertise, adequate budget and level of effort for GE.

Tool(s): 12 & 14

Tool 1: Policy framework for gender equality and key gender equality concepts

Canada’s policy framework and international commitments to gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls include:

These commitments form the basis for GAC’s work in gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in partner countries around the world. Canada has a long-standing international reputation as a leader on gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls and the protection of their rights. Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1981. In 1995, following the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action, the Government of Canada committed to conducting Gender-Based Analysis (now called Gender-Based Analysis+) on all future legislation, policies and programs. GAC’s approach to gender equality supported by its long-standing Policy on Gender Equality for international development is consistent with a GBA+ approach and goes beyond analysis to requiring the achievement of gender equality results.  Canada takes a leadership role in international efforts to implement the Women Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. Canadian international development and humanitarian assistance works to implement the UNSCR 1325 and subsequent resolutions on WPS by advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in fragile and conflict-affected states. Canada played an important role in advocating for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as a stand-alone goal in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and continues to work with like-minded partners to effectively achieve the gender equality goal and targets.

The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) serves as the strongest legal guidance on gender equality and the requirements to ensure non-discrimination. CEDAW lays the framework for substantive equality, going beyond formal equality in the law, and focusing on a real and lived equality. Subsequently, it is the first and only human rights convention that obliges State Parties to modify and abolish social attitudes and cultural patterns and practices that are based on the idea of inferiority or superiority of either sex. It explicitly prescribes State Parties’ obligations to eliminate discrimination against women not only by State agents, but also by private individuals, organizations and enterprises. It integrates women’s civil rights and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights under the normative framework of non-discrimination and equality. The Convention also covers the guarantee to respect, protect and fulfill women’s human rights in the private sphere of the family. The Convention also allows the application of temporary special measures for the correction of practices of discrimination.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (PFA) of 1995 is a visionary agenda for the empowerment of women. It still remains today the most comprehensive global policy framework and blueprint for action, and is a current source of guidance and inspiration to realize gender equality and the human rights of women and girls, everywhere. The Platform for Action covers 12 critical areas of concern that are just as relevant today: poverty; education and training; health; violence; armed conflict; economy; power and decision-making; institutional mechanisms; human rights; media; environment; and the girl child. For each critical area of concern, strategic objectives are identified, as well as a detailed catalogue of related actions to be taken by governments and other stakeholders, at national, regional and international level. It aims at removing all the obstacles to women's active participation in all spheres of public and private life toward a full and equal share in economic, social, cultural and political decision-making.

The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) of 1994 sets out an ambitious agenda to deliver inclusive, equitable and sustainable global development. This agenda has guided policy and helped secure advances in gender equality and empowerment for women, global health and life expectancy, and education for girls. The Program of Action was remarkable in its recognition that reproductive health and rights, as well as women's empowerment and gender equality, are cornerstones of population and development programs. The Program of Action asserted that everyone counts, that the true focus of development policy must be the improvement of individual lives and the measure of progress is the extent to which we address inequalities.

United Nations Security Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 (2000) and seven subsequent resolutions define the international Women Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. The agenda calls for the international community, including the UN system, regional and sub-regional organizations and member states, to enhance the protection of women and girls in conflict situations and other emergencies and promote the meaningful participation of women in decision-making for conflict prevention, resolution, mediation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. The agenda also calls for the full respect of the human rights of women and girls and the prevention of sexual violence in conflict, as well as for gender equality, and the integration of a gender perspective in all peace and security activities and interventions.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by 193 UN member states in September 2015. The 2030 Agenda is a global framework of action for people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership. This universal Agenda aims to eradicate poverty and to leave no one behind. Goal 5 is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls and GE targets are embedded across other goals. Advancing progress on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is core to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, as it exerts a powerful multiplier effect on progress in all other development areas. António Guterres, UN secretary-General: In a male-dominated world, the empowerment of women must be a key priority. We are all better off when we open doors of opportunity for women and girls: in classrooms and boardrooms, peace talks and in military ranks in all aspects of productive life.” 

Canada’s feminist approach and policy on gender equality for international assistance

Canada’s feminist international assistance policy brings greater rigour, activism and accountability to the implementation of GAC’s approach to gender equality guided by its long-standing Policy on Gender Equality for international development.

Through a feminist approach to international assistance, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are objectives in their own right for transforming social norms and power relations. A feminist approach also recognizes that advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is the most effective way to reduce poverty and build a more inclusive, peaceful and prosperous world. It is recognized that committing to a feminist approach to international assistance represents a significant shift in what we do and how we do it.

The feminist international assistance policy states that to achieve the goals of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, Canada will focus its efforts on six action areas.

  1. Core Action Area: Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls
  2. Human Dignity (health and nutrition, education, humanitarian action)
  3. Growth that Works for Everyone
  4. Environment and Climate Action
  5. Inclusive Governance
  6. Peace and Security

The feminist policy elevates gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls to an overarching priority and includes clear and ambitious gender equality programming targets. By 2021/22, no less than 95 percent of Canada’s bilateral international development assistance initiatives will target or integrate gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, of which 15 percent will be specifically targeted gender equality.

Canada’s feminist approach to international assistance is:

Human rights-based and inclusive – All people must enjoy the same fundamental human rights, regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, ability, or any other aspect of identity.
Strategic and focused – Assistance will be directed toward those initiatives that best support the empowerment of women and girls and have the greatest potential to reduce gender inequalities.
Transformative and activist – Unequal power relations, systemic discrimination, and harmful norms and practices will be challenged as a broad range of stakeholders—including men and boys—are engaged and a range of key actions are implemented.
Evidence-based and accountable – Our assistance will be informed by gender-based analysis and will rely on clear accountabilities for planning, achieving, tracking and reporting on gender equality results.

Canada advocates for and supports initiatives through three objectives:

Outlined below, are the guiding principles of GAC’s long standing Policy on Gender Equality for international development. These principles remain relevant and complement the feminist approach.

Guiding principles of GAC’s approach to advancing gender equality

Policy-related definitions

Practical gender needs can be defined as immediate necessities such as water, shelter, food, income and health care. Projects that address practical needs generally include responses to inadequate living conditions but generally do not challenge gender division of labour or women’s subordinate position in most societies.

Strategic gender interests, on the other hand, refer to the relative status/position of women and men within society. Strategic interests may vary in each context and are related to roles and expectations, and gender-based divisions of labour, resources and power. Strategic interests include women’s right to live free from violence, slavery, and discrimination; to be educated; to own property; to vote; to participate equally in decision-making, including control over their bodies; and to earn a fair and equal wage.

To ensure sustainable benefits, both practical needs and strategic interests must be taken into account in the design of policies, programs and projects.

The empowerment of women and girls is central to achieving gender equality. It is about women/girls— taking control over their lives: setting their own agendas, gaining skills, building self-confidence, solving problems, and developing self-reliance. It is not only a collective, social and political process, but an individual one as well — and it is not only a process but an outcome too. Outsiders cannot empower women: only women can empower themselves to make choices or to speak out on their own behalf. Through empowerment, women become aware of unequal power relations, gain control over their lives, and acquire a greater voice to overcome inequality in their home, workplace and community. Projects can support processes that increase women's self-confidence, develop their self-reliance, and help them set their own agendas.

Sexual and Gender-based violence (SGBV) is violence that is directed against a person on the basis of gender or sex, taking many forms (physical, verbal, sexual, psychological, socio-economic) affecting every society and every social class and occurring in private and public life. Whether the context is rape used as a tool of war, sexual slavery, intimate partner violence, or female genital mutilation, in all cases, gender-based violence violates and impairs or nullifies human rights and is a disempowering force, which erodes a person’s self-dignity, capabilities and ability to participate in social, economic and political life.  Sexual and gender-based violence is an obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of gender equality, development and peace. SGBV is rooted in gender inequalities and other systems of oppression.

Sexual harassment is any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour, which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. It can take the form of an insult, inappropriate remark, joke, insinuation and comments on a person’s dress, physique, age, family situation; a condescending or paternalistic attitude with sexual implications undermining dignity; any unwelcome invitation or request, implicit or explicit, whether or not accompanied by threats; any lascivious look or gesture associated with unwanted advances; and any unnecessary physical contact such as touching, caressing, pinching or assault. Sexual harassment can occur in the private or public sphere. Platform for Action, Para.178, recognizes sexual harassment as a form of discrimination against women.

Tool 2: Engaging partners on gender equality

It is important to be prepared to discuss the rationale and approaches to address gender inequalities in projects with colleagues, partners and stakeholders; to discuss how projects can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; and to share best practices, strategies and lessons learned. International assistance is successful when partnerships are developed and nurtured. Constructive dialogue will help to build more effective, feminist, and evidence-based projects. Information provided from GAC’s Questions About Culture, Gender Equality and Development Cooperation publication below will assist staff and partners who may face concerns about culture in relation to gender equality.

Actions to promote gender equality with project staff, partners and stakeholders

  1. Prepare – Review sector-specific information in advance and ask a GE specialist/advisor for support, gender-based analysis and advice. Draw on national and institutional commitments to women’s rights and gender equality. Start the discussion from an informed position on the gender equality issues that are relevant to the sector or initiative. Use their own policies to make the case for addressing gender inequalities. Identify relevant government initiatives. Find out the priorities and position of women’s +organizations. All partner countries have endorsed the Beijing Platform for Action and most have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Many have also formulated strategies to guide implementation of these commitments. These are important tools for dialogue on gender equality as they ground the discussion in commitments already made by partners and donors. UN organizations, other donors, banks, NGOs and most international development organizations have gender equality policies.


Advocating for gender equality

People are sometimes ambivalent about gender equality or opposed to the changes it entails and thus avoid taking real action. Here are suggestions to respond constructively.



Ways that action is avoided:

Stating that gender equality is not a concern for the country (or region, or community), or that a particular program does not discriminate against women.

‘Equal opportunity already exists for everyone. Why do we need to focus on gender?’

‘Gender equality is a cultural issue and we need to respect the local culture. Promoting for gender equality is an imposition of Western values.’

Constructive responses:

Present sound empirical evidence (statistics, oral histories, research) that documents gender disparities and discriminatory practices.

Discuss in advance with like-minded and have them raise GE.

Use lessons learned from sector or similar initiatives to build a case;
Suggest gender-based analysis to find out.

Partner countries have commitments in constitutions, CEDAW, PFA, laws, policies. Need to support freedom and dignity of women as defined by women themselves, especially women’s civil society.

Ask if it is ‘cultural’, is it unquestioned? Societies and culture are not static or homogeneous.

Make the point that development is about promoting social and economic improvement; GE is a human rights and development issue.


Speaking on behalf of "women"

Ways that action is avoided:

Generalizing one or two experiences into a broad statement about all women, or presuming that own experience justifies a statement about "what women want" or need (generally ignoring the fact that women are not a homogeneous group).

Constructive responses:

Find analyses; sex disaggregated data and research that provide a more reliable perspective. Ensure the project collects sex-age disaggregated data and sets targets for women and men that aim for substantial reductions in gender inequalities.

Demonstrate the need for an understanding of the specific situation and promote the use of gender-sensitive participatory methods, dialogue with women’s organizations that advance women’s rights.
Make the case for the differential impact on women and men in the sector/subsector and demonstrate the gaps between women and men (i.e. in decision-making, access and control, realization of rights).


Token action

Ways that action is avoided:

Acknowledging that something needs to be done, but selecting an action that can only have limited impact (a small add-on activity) or focusing on women’s participation in a project activity (rather than the project’s impact on gender equality).

Constructive responses:

Shift attention to the results of the initiative. Ask questions about how the project will change the way in which the partner serves its public – is there an opportunity in the project to improve services to women or impacts on gender equality?


Lip service

Ways that action is avoided:

Acknowledging the issues at the level of rhetoric but failing to take meaningful action.

Constructive responses:

Build gender equality into the results and monitoring framework. Strengthen accountability, budgeting, implementation and reporting structures to ensure the achievement of gender equality outcomes.

Ensure the project hires adequate GE expertise.



Ways that action is avoided:

‘We need more research.’ Delaying decisions until after the in-depth study (often in the hope that the need to address the issue will disappear with the delay).

Constructive responses:

While a study may be necessary, there are other actions that can be taken in parallel with the study. Gender sensitization training may be necessary.

Propose action research, or preliminary action based on what is already known, or a pilot project to explore the issues.



Ways that action is avoided:

Referring all matters concerning women or equality to the person (consultant, specialist, organization) responsible for GE or "women’s development”. Referring everything concerning GE to the Women’s Ministry/ office.

Constructive responses:

Make a concrete case about the relevance of gender equality issues to the mainstream of the agency’s work or to this specific project. Promote GE training for staff and partners (integrate GE into TORs, planned meetings, missions, training) to provide the necessary tools for integration of GE.
Promote and ensure adequate resources for gender-based analysis and monitoring role of Women’s Ministry/office. Strengthen understanding and application of gender-based analysis.


Appointing a token woman

Ways that action is avoided:

Resolving the need to act by appointing a woman to a committee or a decision-making process.

Constructive responses:

If you encounter a "token woman" in a meeting, join with her in identifying and pursuing gender issues and encourage others to participate. Or if you are the token woman, look for allies. Emphasize the need for gender mainstreaming and that everyone has a role in it.

Tool 3: Gender equality expertise and project team responsibilities

Gender equality expertise is crucial for the successful achievement of gender equality outcomes. Partners may have in-house gender equality expertise or hire international, Canadian and/or local gender equality advisors with relevant sectoral expertise. Alternatively, partners may seek collaboration with local, Canadian or international organizations that focus or possess expertise on gender equality, the rights and empowerment of women and girls. To be effective, gender equality advisors need to be integral proactive members of the project team, who are involved early in the planning stage and consistently throughout the initiative.

Sample generic TORs for Canadian and/or locally engaged gender equality advisors are provided below.

Project gender equality advisors are responsible for the following:

While the gender equality advisor takes the lead, the project director and all project team members and consultants are responsible for ensuring that gender equality issues and considerations are addressed within their mandate. That includes ensuring women and girls are involved in all aspects of all projects supported by GAC, including in decision-making and leadership positions. As such, gender equality roles and responsibilities need to be stated in each team member’s Terms of Reference (TORs).

Project team members’ gender equality roles and responsibilities

Project director

Project officer

Other technical advisors involved in the project (e.g. on health, education, governance, agriculture, economic, environment, climate change, security, peace, etc.)

Tool 4: Gender-based analysis + (GBA+)

GBA+ is an analytical process used to assess how diverse groups of women, men and non-binary people may experience policies, programs and initiatives. The “plus” in GBA+ acknowledges that within a gender based analysis grounded on biological (sex) and socio-cultural (gender) differences there are many other intersecting identity factors, such as race, ethnicity, religion, age and mental and physical disabilities.

Gender-based analysis identifies the varied roles played by women and men, girls and boys in the household, community, workplace, political processes, and economy. These different roles usually result in women having less access than men to resources and decision-making processes, and less control over them.

Canada’s feminist approach requires that our international assistance be informed by a gender-based analysis that includes evidence of meaningful consultations with women and girls before a project begins. Canada’s approach also recognizes that inequalities exist along intersectional lines.

Gender-based analysis is required for all GAC projects, programs and policies to ensure that planning is based on evidence and analysis rather than assumptions. It is an integral part of the project’s overall design process.

A gender-based analysis is conducted to provide information and analysis about the women, men, girls and boys within households, communities, businesses, institutions, etc. that will be involved in or affected by the initiative; how activities, needs and priorities differ by sex; and, the implications for the proposed initiative. It identifies key gender dimensions of human rights, decisions-making, and access and control over resources within the initiative.  It reviews national and local commitments to gender equality as well as the efforts by governments and civil society to advance gender equality, and how the initiative can complement and support these efforts. Gender-based analysis informs other project analyses, including economic, social, political, environmental and institutional capacity assessments. A gender-based analysis provides key planning information for an initiative to define results and activities related to gender equality.

Gender-based analysis informs the development of the project’s expected outcomes in the logic model; gender-sensitive and sex-age disaggregated baseline data, indicators and targets in the performance measurement framework; and gender equality strategy. Gender-based analysis is expected to be used throughout the project cycle.

Gender-based analysis is an indispensable tool for both understanding the local context, and promoting gender equality within projects. Gender equality is not exclusively about women’s issues; men’s engagement and support for women`s empowerment is critical for successful gender equality initiatives. There is a risk that projects that may focus on women and girls may not contribute to gender equality. If gender-based analysis is not conducted, the project could end up reinforcing gender inequalities. Gender-based barriers to equality can negatively affect the overall functioning of institutions or sectors, and limit the achievement and sustainability of project results.

Key elements of a gender-based analysis are identified in the following table. Many guides are available to assist in identifying the issues to be considered in different sectors or types of initiative. Gender-based analysis requires skilled professionals and local expertise. Consultation with local partners, beneficiaries, government women’s machineries, and non-governmental organizations promoting gender equality and women’s rights is essential. Appropriate and adequate resources must be allocated to conduct the gender-based analysis and address its findings. However, if there are information gaps at the design stage, it is important to identify a plan (with a budget and appropriate expertise) that outlines how these gaps will be rectified as the initiative goes forward.

Criteria for a gender-based analysis:

Gender equality issues and gaps

The gender-based analysis examines:

Shape the expected outcomes

The gender-based analysis identifies gender inequalities that form the basis for the proposed project outcomes that are supported in the outputs, activities, indicators, baseline data and targets (i.e., logic model and the performance measurement framework), budget allocations and choice of partners.

Capacity of implementing partners (See also section below on gender equality capacity assessment.)  

Entry points for gender equality integration

Gender-based analysis: Questions to consider

Who is the target (both direct and indirect) of the proposed project? Who will benefit? Who will lose?

Gender equality capacity assessment

As part of a gender-based analysis, the capacity of partners (e.g. governmental departments, civil society organizations, international agencies, and businesses) to achieve gender equality outcomes needs to be assessed.

Gender equality capacity assessment analyzes the institutional policies, strategies and mechanisms of implementing partners (governmental departments, civil society organizations, international agencies) to achieve gender equality results.

Key points in assessing gender equality capacity

Supportive institutional policy framework

Institutional enabling environment

Partnerships with other organizations (government or civil society) with gender equality-related knowledge and experience; partners and implementers are selected on the basis of their commitment and capacity to promote gender equality.

Gender balance/employment equity

Gender equality results

Tool 5: Gender equality outcomes

The key to addressing gender equality in projects is a combination of gender equality outcomes and applying RBM principles to implementation, and measuring and reporting on progress. Gender equality outcomes focus on promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

Gender equality outcomes are measurable changes that explicitly aim to reduce gender inequality, or improve equality between women and men, boys and girls and gender diverse people. Gender equality outcomes contribute to one or more of GAC’s gender equality objectives:

Gender equality outcomes can be stated using terms such as “gender responsive”, “gender sensitive”, “exempt of gender stereotyping”, “gender balanced”, “gender equitable”. When using gender equality terms in the result statement, it is important to describe in the theory of change how this approach will help achieve the expected results. Terms also need to be defined in footnotes in the logic model. Some examples of gender equality terms can be found in the GAC RBM How-to Guide.

Formulating gender equality outcomes requires technical knowledge of how the result will advance gender equality.

Within the logic model, each level of outcome is very distinct, with clear definitions of the type of change that is expected at that level. These definitions are defined below.

Ultimate outcome: The highest-level change to which an organization, policy, program, or project contributes through the achievement of one or more intermediate outcomes. The ultimate outcome usually represents the raison d'être of an organization, policy, program, or project, and it takes the form of a sustainable change of state among beneficiaries.

Intermediate outcome: A change that is expected to logically occur once one or more immediate outcomes have been achieved. In terms of time frame and level, these are medium-term outcomes that are usually achieved by the end of a project/program, and are usually changes in behaviour, practice, access or performance among intermediaries and/or beneficiaries.

Immediate outcome: A change that is expected to occur once one or more outputs have been provided or delivered by the implementer. In terms of time frame and level, these are short-term outcomes, and are usually changes in capacity, such as an increase in knowledge, awareness, skills or abilities, or access to... among intermediaries and/or beneficiaries.

Examples of gender equality outcomes

Ultimate outcome (change in state, conditions or well-being for ultimate beneficiaries)

Intermediate outcome (change in behaviour, practice, access or performance)


Immediate outcome (change in access, capacity, awareness, knowledge, skills)

Tool 6: Gender-sensitive and sex-age disaggregated indicators, baseline data and targets

In order to effectively track and report on the achievement of gender equality outcomes, they must be measured by appropriate gender-sensitive and/or sex-age disaggregated indicators to be included in the performance measurement framework (PMF). A long-term perspective may be required, social change takes time.

Gender sensitive indicators

A Gender-sensitive indicator is a neutral quantitative or qualitative unit to measure gender equality-related changes in a project outcome over time.

When developing gender-sensitive indicators:

Sex-age disaggregated baseline data and targets

Baseline data provide specific data for an indicator at the start of a project or program, and is the reference point so that realistic targets can be set. Gender-sensitive and sex-age disaggregated baseline data related to all indicators, not only those indicators that are directly linked to gender equality outcomes, need to be collected as early as possible in the project. Targets need to be set high enough to contribute to gender equality for each indicator in the performance measurement framework (PMF).

When collecting baseline data:

When developing targets:

Examples of gender-sensitive indicators, baseline data and targets


Women’s and girls’ economic empowerment

Level of satisfaction of women and of men with business services.

Baseline data:
40% out of 150 women with high level of satisfaction
60% out of 150 men with high level of satisfaction 

80% out of 150 women with high level of satisfaction
80% out of 150 men with high level of satisfaction


%/# decision-makers (F/M) out of total number using gender-based analysis in economic development policies in department A.

Baseline data:
0% of women decision-makers in Dept. A
0% of men decision-makers in Dept. A

100% of women in Dept. A
100% of men in Dept. A


%/# farmers (F/M) with new skills in agriculture marketing.

Baseline data:
5 % of women farmers with new skills in region X
30% male farmers with new skills in region X

80% of female farmers
80% of male farmers

Total target 500 farmers (60% women farmers)


%/# farmers (F/M) satisfied with access to financial services.

Baseline data:
5% of female farmers satisfied with access to financial services in region X
25% of male farmers satisfied with access to financial services in region X
75% of female farmers with high level of satisfaction
75% of male farmers with high level of satisfaction
Total target 500 farmers (60% women farmers)


%/# cooperative members (F/M) satisfied with decision-making processes of cooperative.

Baseline data:
10% women cooperative members satisfied
50% men cooperative members satisfied

80% of 150 women members satisfied with decision-making processes
80% of 150 men members satisfied with decision-making processes


%/ # of technical and vocational policies that address gender stereotyping.

Baseline data:
0 policies out of 10 TVET institutions

100%: new policies that address gender stereotyping in all 10 TVET institutions


% time spent on household tasks by women, men, girls and boys.

Baseline data:
60% women’s time
5% men’s time
30% girls’ time
5% boys’ time

30% of women’s time
30% of men’s time
10% of girls’ time
10 % of boys’ time


% out of total number of institutions with implemented policies on sexual/gender-based violence and harassment.

Baseline data:
1 of 8 institutions with implemented policies on SGBV and harassment

8 of 8 institutions with implemented policies on SGBV and harassment


Women’s and girls’ political empowerment

% participants (F/M/age group) in consultations.

Baseline data:
No consultations held

50% women / 50% men among 250 participants


Women’s and girls’ social empowerment

% out of total SRHR initiatives (disaggregated by type) that address harmful traditional practices against women and girls.


Baseline data:
20% of 30 nutrition programs
20% of 100 clinic programs
30% of 150 midwife programs

80% of 30 nutrition programs
80% of 150 clinic programs
90% of 150 midwife programs

Tool 7: Gender equality risks

The risk management process is intended to incorporate risks related to the achievement and sustainability of gender equality outcomes alongwith associated mitigation strategies. Project evaluations have demonstrated that there are both internal and external factors related to gender equality performance that merit attention in assessing the risks to be monitored or managed by implementing organizations.

Gender equality risks


Risk: Negative attitudes toward women’s participation in public life reduce the ability of women to influence project decisions. Risk response: Identify specific strategies for encouraging women to participate in culturally sensitive ways.

Risk: Challenge of finding local staff with GE expertise, particularly if remote areas; hiring of staff with limited gender expertise may result in poor implementation of GE strategy. Risk Response: GE training for project staff.

Risk: Not enough funds allocated to GE specific interventions to ensure implementation of the integration of GE. Risk Response: Revise budget to ensure sufficient funds allocated to GE specific interventions.

Risk: The commitment to GE of a project’s institutional beneficiary (e.g. Ministry) relying on the leadership of one or few people who may move on (e.g. Minister being appointed to another Ministry or change in government). Risk Response: Build capacity on GE within the administration/ government department and with civil society.

Tool 8: Budget to achieve gender equality outcomes

Projects must allocate sufficient funds for the successful implementation, monitoring and reporting of gender equality outcomes. The financial allocation for gender equality-related activities must be included in the project proposal, annual work plans and budgets, tracked and reported throughout project implementation. Some GAC Programs as well as some individual projects have established minimum budgetary allocations for gender equality. Gender equality budgetary commitments are often stated in contracts with implementing partners.

The proposed tracking/reporting of gender equality-related expenditures includes remuneration to project staff and consultants, and the actual costs of activities outlined in the project work plan. It is important not to double-count fees or salary of project staff or consultants. Where gender equality content is integrated into a more general activity (such as a research report, training workshop, or study tour), an accurate estimate is needed of what proportion of the resources were allocated to the gender equality part of that activity.

Sample of gender equality-related project expenditures


Gender equality training

Gender equality-related management costs

Gender equality activities

Tool 9: Gender equality coding for initiatives

GAC’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) commits that by 2021-22, no less than 95 percent of Canada’s bilateral international development assistance initiatives will target or integrate gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. This includes 15 percent of investments specifically targeting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, with the remaining 80 percent integrating these goals across all international assistance efforts. 

This tool provides further information on GAC’s Gender Equality (GE) coding framework and the internal GE assessment form.

GAC’s Gender Equality coding framework assigns a GE code in relation to a project’s intended contribution to advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

GAC’s GE codes cover a spectrum from GE-0 to GE-3 (see table below). GAC GE coding requirements and definitions are based on results-based management (RBM) logic and practice, including the theory of change.  Gender Equality results or outcomes are measurable changes that explicitly address a reduction in gender inequality, or an improvement in gender equality between women and men, boys and girls.

Each proposed project is assessed using GAC’s internal Gender Equality Assessment Form as an initial step in the due diligence process. A GE code is assigned using the table below.

Gender equality code:Explanation of GE coding:
GE - 3Targeted - Gender equality is the principal objective of the initiative: The initiative was designed specifically to address gender inequalities and would not otherwise be undertaken. All outcomes in the logic model are gender equality outcomes.
GE - 2Fully integrated -There is at least one intermediate gender equality outcome which will achieve observable changes in behaviour, practice, or performance that will contribute to gender equality.
GE - 1Partially integrated - There is at least one gender equality outcome at the immediate outcome level which will achieve a change in skills, awareness, or knowledge that contributes to gender equality.
GE - 0None - There are no gender equality outcomes.

The types of change associated with each gender equality code are aligned to the levels of change in GAC’s Results Based Management logic model.

A gender equality specific and targeted project (GE 3) means that all the outcomes at all levels are exclusively focussed on addressing gender inequalities to advance women’s and girls’ equal participation with men in decision-making; to support the full realization of women’s and girls’ human rights; and/or to reduce gender inequalities in access to and control over resources and benefits of development.

A gender equality fully integrated project (GE 2) means that the project has identified at least one intermediate outcome that aims to achieve long term transformational change for gender equality that will be sustained after the project ends. 

A gender equality partially integrated project (GE 1) means that the project has identified at least one immediate outcome that aims for short term changes in gender equality related to knowledge, awareness or skills. These changes are not expected to be sustainable over the long term.

Since initiatives are assessed at the proposal stage, a project can be strengthened after approval when developing the Project Implementation Plan (PIP). The GE Assessment Form often includes suggested follow-up actions to strengthen GE in the project. In many cases, however, an initiative designed to integrate gender equality cannot be strengthened to become one that specifically targets gender inequalities without a redesign of the initiative.

International Reporting on Gender Equality

The OECD-DAC analyzes its member’s (bilateral development assistance agencies) level of investments that promote gender equality. The OECD-DAC relies on reporting from members that use a gender equality coding or marker system. GAC’s GE codes are rolled up for annual international reporting to OECD-DAC as part of the GAC’s accountability process.

The following table shows how GAC GE coding is mapped to OECD GE policy marker:

GAC GE Policy Marker

GE-03 Targeted

Targeted - Gender equality is the principal objective of the initiative: The initiative was designed specifically to address gender inequalities and would not otherwise be undertaken. All outcomes in the logic model are gender equality outcomes.

GE-02 Full integration

Fully integrated -There is at least one intermediate gender equality outcome which will achieve observable changes in behaviour, practice, or performance that will contribute to gender equality.

GE-01 Partial integration

Partially integrated - There is at least one gender equality outcome at the immediate outcome level which will achieve a change in skills, awareness, or knowledge that contributes to gender equality.

GE-0 None

No gender equality outcomes

OECD DAC GE Policy Marker

GE-02 Principal

Gender equality is the main objective of the project/program and is fundamental is its design an expected results. The project/program would not have been undertaken without this objective.

GE-01 Significant

Gender equality is an important and deliberate objective, but not the principal reason for undertaking the project/program.

GE-0 Not targeted

The project/program has been screened against the gender marker but has not been found to target gender equality.

For more information on the minimum standards for the gender equality policy marker, refer to OECD.

Tool 10: Project implementation plan and gender equality strategy

The gender equality strategy (GES) outlines the project’s overall approach to achieve gender equality outcomes and provides overall guidance on the approach to be used in the activity matrix, work breakdown structure, monitoring and reporting, and management. If not completed at the project design phase, the project team needs to develop a gender equality strategy for the project at the inception phase as part of the process of preparing the project implementation plan (PIP).
The project GES is informed by the project’s gender-based analysis and consultations with partners and stakeholders, especially women and girls, on how to achieve gender equality outcomes. The GES is a separate section or an appendix to the PIP but it is expected that all the sections of the PIP, including the rationale, overall project description, LM, theory of change, PMF, work breakdown structure, activity matrix, budget, monitoring, and reporting expand on the information presented in the GES. The annual work plan is also expected to further expand upon the implementation of the GES.

During project implementation, best practices include: significant involvement of gender equality expertise as part of implementation team; collaboration and support from women's organizations, key female and male decision makers, leaders and allies; flexibility and openness to respond to new and innovative methods, and to opportunities for supporting gender equality that present themselves during implementation, and promotion of the equitable participation of women with men, especially in decision-making, throughout implementation.

The gender equality strategy is not meant to be a static document. During implementation, projects need to re-evaluate the context for promoting gender equality and engage in dialogue with partners and stakeholders, especially women and girls, in order to identify challenges and emerging opportunities as well as lessons learned. In this respect, the project local gender equality expert is a key resource. As the project builds gender equality capacity both internally and among stakeholders, new possibilities may emerge and projects are expected to be flexible enough to take advantage of them.

Ideally, the project’s gender equality strategy includes the elements presented below.

Outline for Project Gender Equality Strategy

Overview of gender-based analysis: A summary of the gender-based analysis and validation of gender inequalities.

Gender equality outcomes: Description of how gender equality outcomes at the ultimate, intermediate and immediate outcome levels in the LM will address the identified gender inequalities. This information would be integrated into the theory of change section of the proposal or PIP.

Expected outcomes: A plan of the specific approaches and key interventions that will be taken to achieve each immediate outcome and would inform the outputs, activity matrix and work breakdown structure sections of the PIP.

Specific approaches and key interventions such as:

Capacity building: Plan for training and capacity building on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls for project staff, partners and implementers. This would be itemized in the budget and activity matrix of the PIP.

Monitoring and reporting: An outline of how the project will use sex-age disaggregated baseline data for indicators to set relevant targets; and how the project will collect data on gender-sensitive indicators in the PMF to monitor progress toward results.

Resources and budget: A statement of the measures or means for implementing the gender equality strategy, including identification of responsibility at the management level; inputs of technical expertise in gender equality; training for project staff and partners; financial resources to adequately cover gender equality expertise, training and project activities that support gender equality. This would be included in the PIP budget and the staffing/technical assistance plan of the PIP.

Contribution to GAC’s Feminist International Assistance Policy: Describe how the project will contribute to the three gender equality objectives which underpin GAC’s Feminist International Assistance Policy:

Tool 11: Annual work planning and project steering committee

Annual work planning

The project work plan sets out specific interventions and budget to implement the gender equality strategy and reflects the integration of gender equality in order to achieve the expected gender equality outcomes.

Annual work planning

Project steering committee (PSC)

Project steering committee (PSC) meetings are opportunities to assess and discuss the progress made by a project on gender equality outcomes, to determine whether it is in accordance with the approved work plan and to take any decisions needed to improve performance. PSC meetings present opportunities to raise awareness on gender equality among steering committee members.

Tool 12: Monitoring performance on gender equality

Gender-sensitive monitoring helps project staff, other stakeholders, and beneficiaries to understand how the project is progressing on the achievement of GE outcomes and identifies areas for improvements.

Monitoring progress on gender equality outcomes

Tool 13:  Reporting on gender equality outcomes

Project reports are required to present data on progress on gender equality within each project outcome. It is expected that the project’s gender equality advisor(s) be involved in drafting project reports, particularly the sections on progress toward each expected result and the section on the implementation of the GES.

Reporting on gender equality by outcome

The table below provides examples of how to report on gender equality results at each outcome level.
How to report on gender equality results

This result requires both quantitative and qualitative data that measures the system’s capacity to deliver gender sensitive health services, particularly indicators that measure: system capacity to collect and analyze gender-sensitive data; staff capacity to develop, design and deliver programing and services that are gender-sensitive, including addressing women’s and girls’ barriers to access, use, and decision-making on health care; system capacity to and practice in ongoing engagement of women’s groups in the design of policy, programs and services; etc. Sex-age disaggregated data can be used to track the use of health services, and sex-age disaggregated client surveys can measure perceptions of and satisfaction with the health services provided. This data helps to verify that the system is delivering services.

B. Intermediate Outcome: Increased access to basic education for children, particularly girls, in focus areas. (Similar wording may include “especially”, “with a focus on”, etc.).This result statement requires sex-age disaggregated data, as well as comparison to baseline data over time to measure girls’ and boys’ access to school. Qualitative or quantitative indicators are needed to measure the impact of special interventions to make schools girl-friendly (e.g. % of schools with girls-only toilets, % of teachers using gender-sensitive pedagogy, # of courses revised for gender-sensitivity, total # of schools that include mothers and fathers in parent-teacher interviews, total # of schools that have no school fees, total # of  schools with feeding programs, level of satisfaction by girls/by boys of school programs, % of girls out of school compared to boys, % of parents (F/M) who support sending girls to school, % of girls under 15 who are pregnant). This data is needed to assess the different reasons girls are able to attend and stay in school.

C. Ultimate Outcome: More predictable and equitable access to the justice system for people, especially women (Indicator: # gender-based violence incidents reported). This result has been included to illustrate how to treat potentially counter-intuitive gender equality indicators, where an understanding of context is important. In contexts where gender-based violence is not discussed but is known to occur, reporting rates of gender-based violence is expected to increase if the project is in its first phase and includes awareness-raising activities. On the other hand, one might expect a downward trend in the actual data collected on indicators if the project is in its later phases, if social awareness is high and levels of social programing designed to address gender-based violence is in evidence. A more accurate indicator is the measurement of attitudes of women and men on violence against women and girls (e.g. % of respondents (F/M, age group) who disagree that men can beat women for burning the food, going out without permission, spending money without permission.)
In addition, a section reporting on the implementation of the GES to cover the elements outlined below.

How to Report on the Gender Equality Strategy

Tool 14: Evaluating project performance on gender equality

Gender equality performance is expected to be assessed in all project evaluations. This involves:

If the project or program has a good gender-based analysis, gender equality outcomes, clear gender equality indicators and sex-age disaggregated baseline and targets, there is a much greater probability that the evaluation will examine gender equality elements in a meaningful way. The following table outlines how to plan, design and manage evaluations to assess gender equality outcomes.

How to plan, design and manage evaluations to assess gender equality outcomes

Preparing terms of reference

Gender equality (GE) is often treated superficially in evaluation reports. Sometimes terms of reference (TORs) set out too many competing issues to assess and provide limited direction to evaluators on gender–related questions. Important tips to keep in mind are:

Resourcing and expertise

The assessment of GE outcomes brings an extra dimension to traditional methods and requires more time and resources. Where evaluation teams include gender equality expertise, evaluation reports are more likely to include sex-age disaggregated data and a performance assessment of GE results. Involving gender equality expertise can enhance gender-equitable, participatory processes.


The more participatory the evaluation process, the greater the potential for evaluation findings to include sex-age disaggregated data and address GE results. GE results are validated when evaluation methodologies integrate stakeholder participation throughout the evaluation process. Tips related to methodology include:

Reporting and sharing results

Effective evaluations enable GAC to assess its performance in achieving GE while providing partners with lessons on gender equality to improve future performance. Evaluation learning is more readily taken up when information is action–oriented and geared to specific audiences. Tips include:

Sample evaluation questions for assessing gender equality outcomes

Achievement of results

Cost-effectiveness of results

Relevance of results

Sustainability of results



Appropriateness of resource utilization

Informed and timely action

Example: Project evaluation of district-wide assistance program (DWAP)

The terms of reference: The evaluation questions included extensive and detailed points relating to gender equality including gender equality outcomes, participation issues, constraints/obstacles faced by women and girls, review of the strategy for gender equality outcomes and the understanding of the need to promote gender equality among stakeholders. The findings were to be sex-age disaggregated and the ToR also explicitly requested conclusions, recommendations and lessons learned regarding gender equality.

Resource and expertise: GAC’s working group overseeing the evaluation included the local gender equality advisor. The ToR set out an explicit requirement for an expert on gender equality with a strong background in participatory assessment techniques and participatory gender-based analysis. As mandated by the ToR, a gender equality consultant was part of the evaluation team with a role in the evaluation mission and writing the case studies.

Methodology: The work plan outlined a clear and specific approach to explore gender equality issues. The methodology included mixed methods, both quantitative and qualitative. Separate focus groups were to be held with women and men. The evaluation explicitly included a discussion of gender equality issues. The evaluation matrix included detailed questions on the achievement of gender equality outcomes, the sustainability of these results, constraints to the participation of women and girls, adequate monitoring of gender equality outcomes, etc.

Reporting and sharing results: The report noted that the methodology proposed in the work plan had been implemented and an additional element had been added: focus groups with gender equality experts. There was a specific and detailed section on gender equality as well as attention to these issues throughout the report. Gender equality issues were also highlighted in the Executive Summary. There were clear and evidence-based findings and conclusions on gender equality. Five out of the 22 recommendations were related to gender equality and there were specific lessons learned. Findings and recommendations from the DWAP evaluation served in follow-up programing.

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