The Gender Advisor | A Man of Quality

When Joseph (name changed) was forced to watch his wife being raped during the conflict in Sierra Leone in the nineties, he decided to take revenge, join the war and kill the enemy. But he didn’t. Instead, through a program sponsored by UNHCR, David got involved in helping to find a girl who had been abducted from a refugee camp.  He also was asked to engage men in preventing violence against women. His leadership role and experiences working with men in the camp changed his view of violence completely.  He went from “revenge to prevention.”

This is not the only program where men are confronting and actively questioning deeply entrenched views about using violence and being “a real man.”  From Brazil, to South Africa, to India, slogans and campaigns like One Man Can, My Strength is Not for Hurting, and Quality Men Don’t Fear Gender Equality, are increasingly in the public eye. North America is experiencing a similar phenomenon with the White Ribbon Campaign, a loosely knit organization of men who are engaged in ending violence against women and promoting gender equality. The White Ribbon Campaign has sprouted active branches all over the world that focus on ending violence against women—led and run by men. Quality men.

Quality men understand that they don’t have to use violence as a tool to dominate others. Quality men are the traditional leaders who recognize the cost of harmful traditional practices to their communities and act to end them. They are military commanders who recognize that including women in their peace and security operations results in enhanced force protection and improved information gathering capabilities. Quality men are politicians who understand that cultivating women candidates is not just a political tactic to capture more votes, but that actively recruiting and supporting women in politics broadens the spectrum of voices and policy choices for everyone. We need to engage quality men at every level—from unemployed young men, to fathers, to high-level decision-makers—because gender equality is in everyone’s interests.



The Gender Advisor | A Simple Gender Analysis Tool

I’m often asked, “What is a good tool to use to do a quick Gender Analysis?”

Here’s a simple gender analysis tool you can take with you in your back pocket anywhere.

If you don’t have time to prepare a detailed gender analysis or can’t work with a gender expert at the beginning of a new project or program, ask yourself the following questions:

1. How are the men, women, boys and girls differently affected by this situation because of their different roles, needs, priorities and status?


2. How is what I am doing, planning, funding, or implementing affecting the different roles, needs, priorities and status of these men, women, boys and girls?

If you can answer what the needs, roles, priorities and status of the men, women, boys and girls are in your area or project context, you’ll soon see where the constraints and opportunities are for creating and implementing gender-sensitive policies and programs.


The Gender Advisor | Ensuring Women Have a VOICE at the Table

Whether you are in the field or in a Capital, you are probably asked to “consult with women” in order to increase the participation of women in decision-making on matters of security and peace.

This may lead to increasing the numbers of women at the proverbial “table” however, just being present at the table does not guarantee a VOICE at the table, nor does it lead to gender-sensitive outcomes.

Finding Women Experts

Finding women experts takes time and effort, because unfortunately, women are still largely professionally invisible.

They do not take part in public debates through opinion pieces or editorials, as often as men. And few women hold leadership positions in political parties or in businesses.

A place to look is in civil society where women have powerful leadership roles providing essential services, like health care and education, to the local population. Women’s caucuses and women’s cooperatives are also good places to look for women experts.

Meaningful consultation with women goes beyond hosting a photo opportunity on International Women’s Day, or the occasional high-level meeting. True collaboration between security actors and women’s groups requires relationship building and regular communication and dialogue.

Meeting With Women

If you are in a meeting or consultation with women where decision-making is taking place, and there are either,

1) More women in the room than men, or
2) There is a gender balance between the men and women in the room

REMEMBER, this does not necessarily reflect or lead to gender equality outcomes!

Questions you should ask before, during, and after the meeting are:

1. Who are these women?
2. Do the women in the room hold positions of authority and decision-making responsibility, and can they exercise this authority in this meeting?
3. Who has access and control of the resources required to execute whatever decision has been agreed to at the meeting?
4. Is this engagement with women ongoing, long-term and strategic, or is it just tokenism, window-dressing—a one-off women-only event?
5. Are there any men in the room who can be allies, or advocates to promote gender equality?
6. Is there a policy framework, legislation or mission mandate that can support the ongoing, strategic consultation of women in your project context or area?

As long as you ask the right questions, your consultation with women will yield the right results.


The Gender Advisor | For Newbies: How do I apply a Gender Perspective to My Work?
If you have just been appointed the new Gender Focal Point for your office, but don’t know what to do when your boss hands you the latest brief on Food Security, Police Reform, or Democratic Elections, and then asks you to apply a gender perspective to the brief—here’s some help!

A simple tool you can use to apply a gender perspective to whatever policy brief, background document or proposal you are reviewing is to create a chart that helps you identify what gender information you have and don’t have.

1. First, take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of it.
2. Write at the top of left-hand column “Gender Information I Have” and
3. Write at the top of the right-hand column “Gender Information I Don’t Have.
4. Now divide the column into four rows and write on the left-hand margin,

  • Row 1: Legal rights
  • Row 2: Decision-making and Participation
  • Row 3: Cultural Practice and Beliefs
  • Row 4: Access and Control of Resources

Print out this PDF for an example.

The Gender Advisor | For Newbies: How do I apply a Gender Perspective to My Work?

Now read your brief, paper or what-have-you and fill in your chart.

You will soon see what information you have about the men, women, boys and girls affected by your policy brief, paper or proposal.  And you will see what you need to find out more about.

Knowing how men, women, boys and girls are affected by your strategy for Food Security, Police Reform or Democratic Elections will yield more effective results.

That’s applying a gender perspective!