Gender” refers to the socially constructed rather than biologically determined roles of men & women as well as relationships between them in a given society at a specific time & place. “Gender mainstreaming” was defined by the United Nations Economic & Social Council in 1997 as a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns & experiences an integral dimension of design, implementation, monitoring & evaluation of the policies & programs in all political, economic& societal spheres so that women & men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated.

Gender mainstreaming is important because inequalities in the access to development resources and opportunities hamper economic efficiency and sustainability. Women and men have different roles, rights and responsibilities. Rural women often have less access to productive natural resources and opportunities such as education and training, credit, capital, land and decision-making authority.

Gender mainstreaming requires a planning process that promotes the well-being and empowerment of both women and men. Gender should be mainstreamed at the earliest possible point in the project or programme cycle, as it can fundamentally affect the entire project/programme concept and structure. It is not a one-time exercise during the project or programme planning phase, rather an integral part of the entire planning and implementation process and continues throughout the life of the project or programme

The utilization of gender-sensitive indicators allows for effective monitoring and evaluation of project or programme activities, which in turn will feed into more effective future planning and programme delivery

Indicators are quantitative or qualitative benchmarks used for measuring or assessing the achievement of objectives or results. Indicators can assume the form of measurement, numbers, facts, opinions, or perceptions that illustrate a specific condition or situation measuring changes in that situation or condition over time.

Indicators measure the level of performance and can be described in terms of (1) The derived quality to be reached; (2) The quantity of something to be achieved; (3) The target group who is affected by or benefits from the programme or project; and (4) The time frame envisaged for the achievement of the objectives.

There are various types of indicators, including:

Input indicators – describe what goes into the programme or project, such as the number of hours of training, the amount of money spent, the quantity of information material distributed etc.

Output indicators – describe the programme or project activities, such as the number of people trained, the number of policy makers at the briefing, the number of rural women and men reached etc.

Impact indicators – describe the actual change in conditions, such as changed attitudes as a result of training, changed practices as a result of a programme or project activity etc. These types of indicators are more difficult to measure.

Gender-sensitive indicators are indicators disaggregated by sex, age and socio-economic background. They are designed to demonstrate changes in relations between women and men in a given society over a period of time. The indicators are a tool to assess the progress of a particular development intervention towards achieving gender equality. Sex-disaggregated data demonstrates whether both rural women and men are included in the programme or project as agents/project staff, and as beneficiaries at all levels. The approach allows for effective monitoring and evaluation.

Examples of gender-sensitive indicators are:


Participation of all stakeholders in project identification and design meetings (attendance and level of participation/contribution by sex, age, and socio-economic background).

Degree of rural women and men’s inputs into project activities, in terms of labour, tools, money, etc.

Benefits (e.g. increased employment, crop yields, etc.) going to women and men, by socio-economic background and age.


Level of participation as perceived by stakeholders through the different stages of the project cycle (by sex, age, and socio-economic background).

Degree of participation of an adequate number of women in important decision making (adequacy to be mutually agreed by all stakeholders) – to be measured through stakeholder responses and by qualitative analysis of the impact of different decisions.

This section examines a number of key areas for gender-sensitive indicators at the National level

Population composition and change

Human settlements and geographical distribution

Households and families, marital status, fertility

Learning in formal and non-formal education

Health, health services, nutrition

Economic activity and labor force participation

Access to land, equipment and credit

Legal rights and political power

Violence against women

Macroeconomic policy and gender

These areas cover some of the most important indicators to be collected at the national level. They have been identified as international priorities in UN recommendations (UN 1995a; 1990; 1989; UNDP, 1995) and the Beijing Platform for Action (1995). The material in this section also draws from CIDA (1996a) and Commonwealth Secretariat (1996). UN (1990a) also provides listings of indicators under each of these classifications.


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