Communicate evidence in a gender-inclusive way

NIPN, as an information management platform, can be used to give a voice to the most marginalised groups, disseminating information in a way that promotes their interests, for example gender equality. NIPN can thus serve to influence, capturing, consolidating and analysing existing data, identifying gaps on gender issues and highlighting relevant messages.

Civil society can use this window for communities to express gender discrepancies in data collection and analysis, as well as in the implementation of actions and policies. Raising the voices of women and girls will highlight the gender-specific needs to be captured in data collection and dissemination. However, gender-based discrimination affects all sexes, so it’s important not to assume that it only affects women. The ‘do no harm’ principle is key and must be considered throughout the process.

Communicating data should show evidence of gender inequalities or of the need for targeted interventions to avoid stigma or discrimination of targeted groups.
NIPN platforms should strive to communicate findings in a way that convinces audiences about the realities of gender inequality with regard to nutrition, keeping in mind that the potential benefits of gender-transformative changes affect society as a whole.

Data is a powerful tool to show that gender inequality is a real and ongoing issue.
NIPN’s goal with respect to gender-inclusive data communication is to select language and methods that can promote gender equality in NIPN’s written and audio-visual communications, as well as orally when meeting authorities or counterparts.

Language reflects attitude in communication

Word choice has a key role to play in achieving greater gender equality. The language should not infantilise women (e.g., by talking about girls instead of women), identify them by their role (mother/wife instead of woman) or assume that certain roles or jobs are performed by one gender (e.g., referring to policeman rather than police officer). In communication about nutrition, messages are often directed at ‘mothers’ rather than families, assuming that it is the mother who cares for the babies.

Ensuring fair visibility for men and women serves to eliminate the use of inaccurate representations and stereotypes, providing equitable visibility through diversity of experience and including different perspectives of women and men who face gender stereotypes in the same field of expertise. The same happens when vulnerabilities are identified: women and girls are labelled as vulnerable by default, without analysis as to whether men in that community may also be vulnerable, or whether women or girls are not. Messages should be carefully examined based on the following rules:

• Ensure that both women and men are represented: all sexes have equal responsibilities in eliminating or reducing gender inequalities and harmful gender stereotypes, especially in thematic areas such as nutrition.

One action that contributes to promoting women’s empowerment is to promote gender parity in the panels and moderation of meetings, conferences and workshops, taking into account the needs, exposure and experiences of women and men.

• Avoid exclusionary forms and favour the use of equal forms: Word choice when writing a report or document to share with the public is a powerful tool for neutralising or perpetuating gender stereotypes and can prevent or reinforce assumptions about values, functions, roles and capabilities. Forms such as “he or she” when referring to a specific profession or a role may perpetuate gender stereotypes. In English, ‘they/them’ can often be used to avoid specific gender pronouns (see also page 18)’. The use of plural pronouns is then recommended, or even the use of pronouns by rephrasing the sentence to make it passive.

Another situation in which language reproduces gender biases occurs when it is addressed to men or women. Women are usually referred to by their marital or family status, or whether they are a mother or not (wife of, daughter of, sister of, mother of). This way of addressing women creates an imbalance and is disrespectful by eliminating the women as subjects but linked to a man (husband, father….). It is more appropriate to use the universally adopted form of “Ms.”

The use of stereotypes related to traits, behaviours, activities and appearances, as well as emotional characteristics of women and men (e.g., men are aggressive, women are more emotional) must be avoided. These small steps, taken in all NIPN communications, can help change perceptions of gender stereotypes and roles.

• The same applies to visual communication: Stereotypes can be revealed in the selection of colours (blue for men, pink for women) and graphic representation (women with children in their arms, men in office clothes). The selection of neutral colours such as orange, green or yellow contributes to the communication not being identified and directed to a single sector of society.

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