About the toolkit

Who is this toolkit for?

This guide is intended to support members of development organisations who are interested in undertaking a Participatory Action Learning approach to gender mainstreaming. You do not need to be a researcher or a gender expert. The main requirements are a commitment to learning and to improving your practices.

Why use the Participatory Action Learning (PAL) for Gender Mainstreaming approach?

Gender mainstreaming is promoted by the majority of development organisations but often fails because it is delivered through ‘top down’ policies and processes. PAL for gender mainstreaming offers a ‘bottom up’, cost-effective approach that enables staff and partners at all levels to:

  • Critically reflect on the gender dimensions of their work
  • Understand what they are already doing well and why; and what they could do better
  • Translate this learning into the improvement of existing programmes and responses
  • Document and share the learning with others in their country, region and beyond
  • Continue reflecting, learning and applying this learning.

The process was developed by the Institute of Development Studies and the World Food Programme (WFP). It has led to small but significant changes in project design within the WFP. For example the process helped staff of the WFP in Lesotho to recognise the importance of considering the role of men and boys in their gender mainstreaming. It has also contributed to larger shifts – for example the WFP’s Cambodia office is now taking gender very seriously throughout all its work and its new gender action plan is heavily based on learning from the PAL for Gender Mainstreaming process.

What’s in the toolkit?

The toolkit is divided into five sections, each representing the five steps of the PAL for Gender Mainstreaming Approach. Each section provides tools that you can adapt for use in your organisational and country context, and examples of how the process has been implemented in the World Food Programme