Understanding Gender


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The first stage of the Participatory Action Learning for Gender Mainstreaming process encourages and enables deep reflection on gender issues to help develop a clear and collective understanding of what ‘gender’ means and how it relates to your work. 

People working in development organisations such as the World Food Programme are usually aware that they should be mainstreaming gender into their work, but they often do not have a clear understanding of what ‘gender’ means or of how it relates to their specialist area. It is understandable that you may feel frustrated or concerned that you do not have time to think about gender, especially when dealing with emergency situations. 

However, facilitating deep reflection on gender at a personal and organisational level need not be complicated nor overly time-consuming. 

Starting the process

The process typically starts with a workshop that brings together staff members from across your organisation - policy, programming, administration, logistics, human resources etc. Participants learn by undertaking simple, often visual exercises such as mapping or drawing that enable them to take a step back and understand what gender means for them, their work and their organisation. These exercises or ‘tools’ can be introduced during an initial workshop. Some simple tools that have proved effective in workshops and enabled the identification of key learning themes and good practices are listed in this toolkit. 

“The methodology enabled participants to engage on a personal level and to make connections between their own experiences and their daily work” - Participant at PAL workshop for WFP Cambodia