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Tools for project planning in community development

Online Course Module 9 of 9

Gender Analysis for Project Planning

This is Module 9 of our free online course, 'Tools for Project Planning in Community Development'. To visit the course homepage, click here.

A Gender Analysis is a development tool that allows you to identify how gendered relationships within your community will interact with your project. Gendered power relationships exist in all communities. Thus, nearly every development project will require this type of analysis. Whilst it might not seem obvious, performing a Gender Analysis is essential for everyone.

This module provides an overview of gender issues that are specifically related to project design and thus will help your team understand gender relationships within your community and how these may affect your project.

A place to learn about grassroots development in action

This course is part of our free online learning centre for community development professionals.

Steps to completing your Gender Analysis

To provide you with the basic insights you need when designing your project, we’ll take you through a simple 4-step process of gender analysis, including the use of the ‘Gender Analysis Matrix’ framework.

Helpful Hint

A Gender Analysis is about exploring power in the relationships within a community. Whilst this normally manifests in differences between men and women, it is important to consider subgroups within genders. This will show the way your project will impact

men and women of different ages, class, caste and ethnicity.

Example: Younger and older women may have very different ideas about the value of ante-natal care. This is important because if you are running a project to promote ante-natal care services, these two sub-groups will require very different strategies to get them involved in your services. 

Step 1

Creating a gender context worksheet

In this worksheet you write down the gender roles and responsibilities within the community and then ask key questions to summarise the gender roles and relationships within your community. This document doesn’t have to be directly relevant to your project (this comes in step 2), it’s meant to be a more general and gender transferable summary. 

Aim: To create a (maximum) 2-page worksheet that succinctly summarises the gender roles and  relationships  within your community.


Keep in Mind: To try and find evidence to support your team’s assumptions, referring to information online or in the local media. 

Keep in Mind: To have a group creating your worksheet that is made up of both men and women, ideally of varying ages and ethnicities within the community. 

Remember: To always be open, considerate and patient – discussing gender, even amongst socially-conscious development professionals, can often be a confrontational subject.

Questions to help you complete your worksheet

Download Resource

You can download a template for this tool here: Resource 18 - Gender Context Worksheet'. Use this resource as a guide when you are planning your own community development project.

Step 2

Collect data specifically relevant to your project

Next, it`s time to begin assessing gender roles specifically related to your project and proposed activities. To do this, you will need to collect data directly from the community.

Aim: To obtain data relevant to how your specific project will interact with existing gender relationships within the community.

Remember: To collect data directly from your stakeholders. Do not try to guess how your project might be valued, understood or engaged with by different gender sub-groups. You aren’t expected to know or understand complex gender relationships without some research. 

Keep in Mind: To try and collect information from your community from both individuals and groups, using standardised questionnaires or personal interviews. We have included two useful tools for data collection below.

Make Sure: To think carefully about who you approach for this information and how you intend to collect it. If your project involves challenging existing gender norms, you need to be sensitive from the very first interaction with community members. 

Useful tools for collecting data relevant to gender roles and responsibilities

These tools are designed to help you see the world through the eyes of different gender groups and understand how your project(s) will affect their world. These tools can be used in workshops, small groups or individual interviews. It’s best to use the same tool with multiple different sub-groups (gender, age, caste, class) to help you get a clear idea of which resources are important to which groups.

How it works:

Members of your community are asked to identify the reasons why they need or desire different elements of your proposed project, and then rank them according to importance.

  • You should end up with a ranked list of different factors relevant to outcomes of your project. This will help you see what elements of your project different groups consider most valuable. 

Example: Solar cooking technology

An initiative to replace indoor wood-fired stoves with solar cookers would likely produce a very different needs analysis for different community groups. Women might think that the most important ‘need’ for this project would be to free up time for them that they would normally spend collecting firewood (an activity that women generally perform in many communities). Men however, might consider the most important ‘need’ for the project is reducing the smoke in their home (generally the only interaction they have with the cooking process)

Helpful Hint

These tools will be explored in more detail in our ‘Facilitating Community Workshops Course’ that will be published in the near future.

How it works:

Community members geographically map out (using pen and paper) the existing processes related to your project. This should include physical facilities and where other participants in the process from their community can be found. 

  • This allows community members to identify important areas or resources for them related to the project. It also, more importantly, allows you to identify disparities between sub-groups, i.e. who controls what resources and who is responsible for different resources in the given process. This will help you see which elements of your project will affect different stakeholder groups. 

Example: Water wells and antenatal care

Example 1: For a water well project, you might ask participants to map out where they currently retrieve water, who retrieves water, who they retrieve it with, who/where they buy buckets to carry the water and where they store the water.
Example 2: For a project seeking to improve the delivery of antenatal care services in a community, young women might map out the local doctor as an important facility relevant to their maternal healthcare. Older women however might highlight a traditional healer as key to providing maternal care services because that’s how they did it and they have a suspicion of modern doctors (remember it’s important to look at differences of age within gender groups). 

Step 3

Analyse data using a ‘Gender Analysis Matrix’

Once you have all of your information, it is time to make sense of it. Using a ‘Gender Analysis Matrix’ help you understand how different stakeholders will view, interact and support/hinder your project. It is a simple process of inputting the information you acquired in step 1 and step 2 into the framework below following our A-C guide.

You should have a good idea about what these categories are from step 2 where you identified the key processes involved in the development problem your project is trying to solve, who performs them and how your project might change them. Ensure that the categories you choose are specific to your development project.

Example: Categories of Analysis

Example: If you build a water-well in town, a key output will be that women will have more time to spend on other activities. This is because in step 2, you would have identified that women are responsible for the process of collecting water from the river 4km away. If you build a water-well, they now won’t have to complete this process anymore, meaning they will have more time. A key category of analysis for this project is therefore Time, as this is how changing the process of collecting water will affect the key stakeholders, women.

These should have been identified in your Stakeholder Analysis in Module 4. Make sure you add in the specific factors relevant to a Gender Analysis if they weren’t previously identified in your stakeholder analysis – gender, age, caste and class. 

Example: Key Stakeholders

For a project promoting women’s access to income, you might need to split young women stakeholders into two separate stakeholder groups, ‘young women with children’ and ‘young women without children’.
Whilst they might not be specific stakeholders in your project, including ‘household’ and ‘community’ as stakeholder groups is often useful. These are generally the ‘contexts’ where gender relationships play out, so exploring how these ‘units’ might view your project can be useful.

Helpful Hint

Once you have identified your categories and stakeholders, it is time to perform the analysis. 

  • In each box, you need to identify the ways the stakeholder will perceive the change your project will result in, related to that category (+ or -). 

    • Use the evidence you acquired in step 1 and 2 to decide whether the stakeholder will likely view the change as positive or negative. 

    • It’s ok to put a “?” in a place where you aren’t sure (but perhaps these are questions you should go back and ask the community in step 2). 

  • ​Add some details justifying why each group of stakeholders will view the change positively or negatively. This will help guide any practical recommendations your gender matrix can produce.

Example: Gender analysis matrix for rural Ecuadorian development project where fresh water is piped to homes.

If done correctly, your Gender Analysis Matrix should clearly show the following key points:

  • How different gender groups will understand the value of your project

  • How different groups should be involved in your project

  • Whether some groups might view your project as challenging or disruptive of existing gender norms

Step 4

Make practical recommendations for your project

Finally, now that you have an understanding of how different groups will view your project, it is time to start thinking about how you can use this information to make practical recommendations for your project. This involves two distinct processes to identify and mitigate your ‘gender risks’.

Identifying 'Gender Risks'

The first step to creating practical recommendations is assessing the risks to your project. It’s important that you can identify:

  • Who are the most vulnerable gender groups in your project and how can you ensure that they are involved and empowered throughout our initiative?

  • How will you ensure that your project meets the needs of all gender groups involved in the project?

  • How can you account for the power relationships these specific stakeholder groups have with each other? Do you need to get permission from certain gender groups to access another? Do different groups need different supports or are ways of accessing supports dependent upon the power in the relationship they have.

  • How will you navigate any perceptions that your project might be challenging existing gender norms?

Mitigating 'Gender Risks'

Once you’ve identified the risks, the final step is to create strategies that will guide how you will manage different gender groups throughout your activities.

Focus certain activities towards different gender groups. 

  • Example: For a fresh water-well project, activities for women might include a hygiene workshop so that they can better protect their children’s health because this is how they see the project as valuable. However, for men, activities could include training to help maintain piping to their crop fields, because better irrigation is how they perceive the value of the project. 

Find the right location for certain activities to ensure the targeted gender groups feel most comfortable. 

  • Example: If you are promoting contraception to young women, it is essential to ensure that sensitive topics like this are discussed in a safe and private space.

Use different approaches to communicate with different groups during project implementation. 

  • Example: If you plan to contact beneficiaries by phone in a community where gender roles dictate that men are generally in control of the family-phone, some women might not have access to the information you put out. You might need to consider other means of communication to ensure the most vulnerable gender groups have access to your project. 

Put in place mechanisms to make sure all gender groups have access to the resources required for your project. 

  • Example: If women don’t have access to money for a bus ticket into town where you are holding a workshop, you might look at subsidising bus tickets or find ways to encourage husbands to bring their wives.

If there is a risk that gendered power relationships may affect the efficacy of the project if both gender groups are present for certain activities, consider undertaking these activities separately.

  • Example:  If you are promoting ante-natal care for young women in a rural community it might seem obvious to hold workshops promoting its value to young women. However, if antenatal care must be paid for by the family, promoting its efficacy (and cost effectiveness) to their husbands specifically is likely to be just as important to the uptake of these services.

Finishing Up

Making small changes to the way you plan to implement your project can make a huge difference to your success. Viewing your project through the lens of gender roles and relationships within your community will ensure that your project is helping to support everybody.

Download Module

Download this module as a pdf to print and use as a guide when planning local development projects in your community.
Or download the full project planning handbook here.

Move on to:

Crowdfunding for community nonprofits

Everything you need to know to help you create and manage an online crowdfunding campaign.

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