What are Gender-Transformative Approaches?

Women and girls are among the key actors that should be considered in the domain of food and nutrition security in low- and middle-income countries. While it is recognized that gender equality and women’s empowerment are pivotal to improving food systems and driving economic development, their contribution to the system has been limited by existing discriminatory gender norms resulting in limited accessibility to education, information as well as resources6.

In the past decades, the promotion of gender equity within food and nutrition security has translated into advocacy of gender mainstreaming and integration of gender-sensitive or responsive approaches, however they have been insufficient to address the root cause of gender inequality, shifting the conversation, in the past 10-15 years, from gender mainstreaming and integration to Gender Transformative Approaches.

Gender transformative approaches (GTA) are interventions that create opportunities for an active change in gender norms, promote the inclusion of women in social and political positions of influence, and address power inequities between genders. GTA aims to address the root causes of gender inequalities and transform them7.

GTA create an enabling environment that goes beyond including women just as participants or beneficiaries of nutrition support. It aims to integrate gender issues into all aspects of programme and policy design, development, implementation and evaluation.

GTA differs from the standard approaches as it aims to go beyond solely addressing visible challenges in gender inequality by tackling its underlying issues. For instance, until now interventions have focused on filling identified gaps rather than aiming to understand the causes of these gaps, which is what GTA tries to address; thus, while promoting gender inclusion, GTA’s objective is to catalyse shifts in social norms at different levels (individuals, households, small and large institutions).

In the context of health and nutrition, GTA address community power structures that prevent women from making decisions about their own health such as access to health/nutrition services, family planning, access to food and livelihoods, access to land and access to equitable jobs to meet their needs.

Research on GTA8 shows that women’s empowerment and greater gender equality are both ends and means to improve the health and nutrition of families and communities as a whole.

6 Hillenbrand et al., 2015
7 https://gender.cgiar.org/news/potential-and-unknowns-gender-transformative-approaches
8 https://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/cfs/Docs1920/Gender/GEWE_Scoping_Paper-FINAL040ct.pdf