Formulating gender inclusive policy questions

The NIPN project is committed to gender transformative approaches and should apply a methodological approach to integrate gender dimension throughout the policy questions formulation process. This will also stimulate the broader national multisector and multistakeholder policy dialogue in relation to the National Action Plans for Nutrition (NAPN).

Planning and implementing the PQF process should involve consultations with relevant representatives of women’s organisations and civil society. The question formulation process can be broken down into four steps:

1. identifying nutrition policy demand and initial questions, in order to ensure alignment with the national decision-making priorities and calendar;
2. formulating policy-relevant questions;
3. refining questions to be answered with available data and capacity, to ensure technical feasibility;
4. finalising and validating questions, to ensure that all previous criteria are being met.

1) Identifying nutrition policy demand and initial questions, in order to ensure alignment with the national decision-making priorities and calendar.
This step usually involves a mapping of key strategic opportunities to influence policy, programming and investment decisions. It may include policy mapping, in which case existing and relevant gender policies (or lack thereof) should also be covered. As this step has been already conducted in most NIPN countries, an additional review of gender-related policies (in addition to policies of sectors that might not have been covered before) could be conducted by NIPN, leading to an update of the previous policy mapping. Additional information about the availability or lack of policies with regards to gender equity could be also presented for broader discussion in the country.

2) Formulating policy-relevant questions.
The development of a first list of questions is followed by a consultative process including workshops. These could be an opportunity to ensure that gender sensitivity and responsive approaches are integrated at the stage of question formulation. Including civil society (CSO), women organisations, relevant government ministries and gender experts from UN Agencies (UN Women, UNICEF, WHO, WFP, FAO, UNDP etc.) might also contribute to integrate gender views. At sub-national level, inputs from local branches can also be valuable to be considered in discussions at national level.
Working groups or workstreams to explore gender-relevant policy needs and gaps to propose specific questions may be considered. More importantly, each question selected should be assessed in terms of its potential gender inclusion. Question formulation also provides an opportunity to collect and analyse relevant evidence and identify gaps in data availability and ways to collect the missing information.

3) Refining questions according to available data and capacity, to ensure technical feasibility.
The third step of the PQF process identifies the data and capacities required to answer the prioritized question, as well as exploring the processes and opportunities or bottlenecks to gathering the data.

In this step, a specific gender-sensitive question should be formulated identifying data sources outside the usual management information systems used by food and nutrition security professionals will provide richer information to decision makers and data analysts.

The question analysis framework, as set out in the technical guidelines for the PQF process, should be applied according to the following criteria:

• the availability and accessibility of data, its source and quality, noting data gaps (and gender relevance or additional gender-related data for the particular question);

• the analysis methods to be used and the estimated time to conduct the analysis (including specific gender-sensitive methods required and which could enable the analysis of additional gender data or analysis of other data with a focus on gender implications);

• the required tools and software;

• the required human resources and capacities (including specific gender-related constraints, needs and opportunities to add specific gender capacities and resources).

4) Finalising and validating questions, to ensure that all previous criteria are being met

Formulating policy questions with gender inclusion will ensure that the selected policy questions meet an additional fifth condition, namely that they:

1. respond to a relevant policy need or decision maker’s interest;
2. can be answered using existing quantitative data and available capacity;
3. provide timely output for policy use or decision-making;
4. provide answers that lead to actionable recommendations and decisions, and
5. ensure that specific gender-based considerations are included.

The final set of selected policy questions should include at least one gender-focused question and ensure that the rest of the questions have been assessed with a gender lens. A formal agreement about the final list of priority policy questions by the Multisectoral Advisory Committee (MAC) should support the above process for data collection and analysis applying GTA. MAC should systematically explore relevant gender issues in all meetings, raising the significance of gender aspects for food and nutrition security and increasing awareness about these issues within the committee.