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Tool Name: Harvard Analytical Framework

Tool Name: Harvard analytical framework

What is it?

A simple and practical method of mapping the work and resources of men and women in a community and highlighting the main differences.

What can it be used for?

·       Collecting and analysing data at community and household level.

·       Collecting baseline data.

·       As a planning and implementation tool for projects and programmes (least suitable for policy planning).

·       At the problem identification stage of planning, before an intervention is designed.

·       To assess the impacts a project/programme may have (i.e. at appraisal stage of planning).

What does it tell you?

·       Gender differences in activities (who does what and when).

·       Gender differences in both access to and control over resources and benefits (what resources people use to carry out activities).

·       Factors that influence gender differences in activities and access to and control of resources and benefits (external constraints and opportunities).

·       The different effects of change (e.g. project or intervention) on men and women.

Complementary tools

24-hour calendar; Wealth ranking; Community resource mapping; livelihood matrix

Key elements


Four tools for collecting data at community and household level: activity profile; access and control profile; analysis of influencing factors; and project cycle analysis.

Essentially a “desk tool” for collecting information in a community but enabling analysis to be conducted elsewhere. Flexible and can be used in combination with other types of analysis.


Data/ information

This tool generates data so the only requirement is data to identify sampling frame.


If integrated with ongoing participatory research, this tool can be applied in a single week, In cases where there is no significant qualitative work planned, a thorough exercise would involve two to three weeks of research.


Sociological or anthropological training is helpful, with an in-depth understanding of gender roles and relations in context.

Supporting software


Financial cost

When combined with other qualitative work, the incremental cost of gender analysis can be as low as $10,000. When no qualitative work is planned, costs can be up to $25,000.


Developed from a contemporary concern for “efficiency” in the mid-1980s, the framework assumes an economic case for addressing gender needs and places less emphasis on an “equity” perspective or power relations and decision-making processes.

Can over-simplify or ignore power relationships, social complexity and other inequalities.

Does not address changes over time so needs to be handled by skilled analyst

References and applications

- Bolt, V. and K. Bird (2003) The Intra-household Disadvantages Framework: A Framework for the analysis of Intra-household Difference and Inequality. CPRC Working Paper No.32. Available at:

- International Labour Organisation (1998) A conceptual framework for gender analysis and planning. Available from:

- March, C., I. Smyth, M. Mukhopadhyay (1999) A Guide to Gender-Analysis Frameworks. Oxfam, Oxford.

- TDG (1997) Gender in Energy: Training Pack. Technology and Development Group, University of Twente, Netherlands. Available at:

Harvard analytical framework: Procedure and examples


Possible approach


Step 1: Selecting local analysts


The framework is designed for collection of data at household or community level. The sampling procedure (see ????) used to select local analysts should reflect the needs of the research.


Step 2: Introductions and explanations


The facilitator should begin by introducing themselves and explaining carefully and clearly the objectives of the research and the tool being used. Check that the local analyst understands and is comfortable with what is going to be discussed.


Step 3: Using the Harvard analytical frameworks tools


The framework consists of four tools for collecting data at community and household level. These are:


Tool 1 – Activity profile


Examine all the productive and reproductive activities conducted in the community or household and identify who carries them out – men, women, boys or girls. The level of detail recorded depends on the research needs. Record the time used for each activity, where it is carried out, or any other relevant information. The tool could be further divided into further sub-divisions of age if useful.










   - activity 1

   - activity 2, etc…

Income generation








Water related

Fuel related

Food preparation


Health related

Cleaning and repair

Market related






Source: Adapted from: March, C., I. Smyth, M. Mukhopadhyay (1999)


In order to address the weakness of not examining who is involved with and performs community activities (in addition to productive and reproductive) the tool can be adapted to also include a third row of community involvement (e.g. attendance at meetings, religious activities, recreation, community activities etc.) in addition to productive and reproductive activities. This can be added to the bottom of the matrix above.


Community involvement

Attendance at meetings

Religious activities


Community activities







Tool 2 – Access and control profile


Identify the resources used to carry out the activities listed in the activity profile. Examine who has access to resources, who controls the use of resources and who controls the benefits arising from the use of resources.























Outside income

Assets ownership

Basic needs (food, clothing, shelter)


Political power/prestige






Source: March, C., I. Smyth, M. Mukhopadhyay (1999)


Tool 3 – Influencing factors tool


Chart the past and present factors or determinants that are behind or influence the patterns of activities, access and control identified in the first two tools. A number of inter-related areas should be considered under which various influencing factors might be found, including:


  • Community norms and social hierarchies (e.g. family/community forms, cultural practices and religious beliefs)
  • Demographic conditions
  • Institutional structures and bureaucracies
  • General economic situation (e.g. poverty levels, income distribution patterns, international terms of trade and infrastructure)
  • Internal and external political events
  • Legal parameters
  • Training and education
  • Attitude of community to development workers


Consider the type of impact these factors might have on activity distribution and access and control, the opportunities they might offer and the constraints they might present. Although this does not have to be presented in matrix format, it may be convenient to do so.



Influencing factor




Community norms and social hierarchy

Demographic factors

Institutional factors

Economic factors

Political factors

Legal parameters


Attitude of community to development workers





Source:Adapted from: March, C., I. Smyth, M. Mukhopadhyay (1999)


Tool 4 – Check list for project-cycle analysis


This is a series of key questions designed to help examine a project proposal or intervention from a gender perspective at four stages of the in the project cycle.


Step 4: Ending the process


Check again that the local analysts know what the information will be used for. Ask the analysts to reflect on the advantages, disadvantages and the analytical potential of the tool. Thank the local analysts for their time and effort.


Step 5: Analysis using the Harvard analytical framework tools


Analysis of the information recorded in the tools should start with identifying which activities are carried out by which gender group. However, it may be important to go further by analysing, for example, which women or men carry out a task, when and for how long.


The data from the access and control profile shows who has access to and control over resources and benefits. Again, analysis can go further to examine which women and men have access and control, and what is actually meant by access and control by the local analysts providing the data.


Analysis of the influencing factors should identify the surrounding dynamics that affect gender differences identified in the activity and access and control tools, together with external constraints and opportunities that might need to be considered in planning processes.


Points to remember


Although the tools are relatively simple to use, this may encourage a superficial, “box-filling” approach to data collection. Ensure that the complexities of real life in a community are recognised and taken into account.


The tool is best used in conjunction with a range of other tools if a top-down approach is to be avoided.


Case study example: Applying the Harvard analytical framework to projects, programmes and policies


The Harvard analytical framework is designed as a planning tool to be applied at the problem identification stage of a planning process before interventions are designed. However, it can also be used at the appraisal stage to assess what potential impacts a project or programme may have and this is where its main use in a poverty and social impact assessment may lie.


If the framework is used at the appraisal stage, it is a method of checking project/programme feasibility and that the basic conditions for project/programme implementation success are present.


For example, if a proposal exists for a women's woodlot for firewood on a piece of wasteland in a village area, then issues regarding whether women have control of that piece of wasteland; have the time to plant the area with trees; have the right to sell any surplus wood and keep the cash benefit, etc. must be examined. If the responses to any of these are negative, then the likelihood of project or programme success is reduced unless these factors are also addressed.



Module Four – Gender Analytic Tools: Overview. Available at:

Gender and Poverty Project. Gender Analysis Tools.  Available at:




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Poverty Analysis Monitoring Team, DFID and Social Development Department, World Bank

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