Gender Equality, Inside and Out: Gender Mainstreaming in International Development Organizations

Product: Paper

Author: Kate Gilles

Date: March 10, 2015

Many international development organizations have committed to advancing gender equality in their programs as an essential component of successful development. Less attention has been given to how those same principles and practices are—or are not—applied to organizational operations and culture, and what that means for their ability to effectively implement gender-equitable programs. Organizations are beginning to recognize the value of gender equality as an organizational as well as a programmatic priority, and realize that gender mainstreaming—the pursuit of greater gender equality internally—is both the right thing and the smart thing to do.

Initiating and successfully implementing an organization-wide process of gender mainstreaming is a significant and challenging undertaking, often left to a few gender champions. This paper is a resource to help those interested in gender mainstreaming learn what tools and resources are available to initiate, support, and sustain that process. The information, guidance, and resources presented in this report will enable organizations to anticipate challenges, develop successful strategies, and mainstream gender in a meaningful way that increases gender equality throughout the organization.

The external work and internal nature of an organization are closely linked, and in an ideal world, awareness of how organizational culture impacts external work and those served by that work would be widespread. To get there, gender champions must make the case for why gender mainstreaming is important and how to initiate, implement, and sustain an effective gender mainstreaming process.