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Gender Analysis

Gender analysis focuses on understanding and documenting the differences in gender roles, activities, needs, and opportunities in a given context. Gender analysis involves the disaggregation of quantitative data by gender. It highlights the different roles and learned behavior of men and women based on gender attributes. These vary across cultures, class, ethnicity, income, education, and time; thus, gender analysis does not treat women as a homogeneous group or gender attributes as immutable.

Gender analysis is important in the formulation of country economic memoranda, country sector strategies, structural adjustment, country portfolio management, poverty assessments, environmental assessment, and in sector-specific project planning, monitoring, and evaluation; thus, many variants of policy and sector-specific gender analysis tools are available.


Applied to development interventions, gender analysis helps (a) identify gender-based differences in access to resources to predict how different members of households, groups, and societies will participate in and be affected by planned development interventions, (b) permit planners to achieve the goals of effectiveness, efficiency, equity, and empowerment through designing policy reform and supportive program strategies, and (c) develop training packages to sensitize development staff on gender issues and training strategies for beneficiaries.

Key Concepts

Practical gender needs. These relate to women's traditional gender roles and responsibilities and are derived from their concrete life experiences. For example, when asked what they need, women usually focus on immediate practical needs for food, water, shelter, health, and so on.

Strategic gender needs. These generally address issues of equity and empowerment of women. The focus is on systemic factors that discriminate against women. This includes measuring the access of women, as a group compared with men, to resources and benefits, including laws and policies (such as owning property). Strategic gender needs are less easily identified than practical gender needs, but addressing these needs can be instrumental in moving toward equity and empowerment.

Intrahousehold dynamics. The household is a system of resource allocation. All members of a household-men, women, and children-have different roles, skills, interests, needs, priorities, access, and control over resources. Any development intervention that affects one member of the household will positively or negatively affect all others; hence, it is important to understand these nterdependent relationships, the rights, responsibilities, obligations, and patterns of interaction among household members.

Interhousehold relations.  Individuals and households belong to larger groupings (such as professional or religious groups or extended families) with whom they are involved in labor exchanges, flows of goods, and other alliances for survival. It is important to understand the social organization of these larger networks and the gender differences in roles, functions, and access.

Key Principles

Because gender planning is part of the overall planning process, the composition of the planning team, timing of data collection, tabling of issues, and integration of gender concerns into overall objectives is critical early in policy and project formulation.

Planning as a process. Programs that intend to be gender responsive depend on flexible planning processes that are interactive, adjust objectives based on feedback, and enable beneficiaries to be active participants in the planning process.

Gender diagnosis. Data collected should be organized to highlight key gender problems, underlying causes of problems for men and women, and the relationship between problems and causes.

Gender objectives. Objectives clarify what gender problems will be addressed and what the practical and strategic goals are. It is important to negotiate consensus on objectives at policy, managerial, and working levels.

Gender strategy. Clear operational strategies, which will be used to achieve stated objectives, must identify the incentives, budget, staff, training, and organizational strategies to achieve stated objectives.

Gender monitoring and evaluation.  Flexible planning requires gender monitoring and evaluation to enable adjustment to experience and to establish accountability of commitment to achieve gender-specific priorities.

    Box 1

  Gender Analysis Framework

  Five major categories of information comprise gender analysis:
  • Needs assessment
  • Activities profile
  • Resources, access, and control profile
  • Benefits and incentives analysis
  • Institutional constraints and opportunities

The extent to which information is collected on particular issues depends on the nature of the problems being addressed and the quality and depth of information already available.


Feldstein, H. and J. Jiggins (eds.). 1994. Tools for the Field: Methodologies Handbook for Gender Analysis in Agriculture. West Hartford: Kumarian Press.

Fong, M.S., W. Wakeman and A. Bhushan. 1996. Toolkit on Gender in Water and Sanitation. Washington, D.C.:World Bank.

Moser, C. O. N. 1993. Gender Planning and Development: Theory, Practice, and Training. London: Routledge.

Narayan, D. 1996. Toward Participatory Research. World Bank Technical Paper No. 307. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.

Wakeman, W. 1995. Gender Issues Sourcebook for Water and Sanitation. UNDP-World Bank Water and Sanitation Program/PROWWESS. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.

The World Bank. March 1996. Implementing the World Bank's Gender Policies. Progress Report No.1. Washington, D.C.

For additional guidance on Gender Analysis, see the Gender and Social Assessment website.

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