When and why should they be used?

In the past decades, there has been a growing awareness that gender equality contributes to positive nutritional outcomes. Following the gender continuum (Fig.1 below) gender-sensitive approaches have been promoted as a way to integrate gender in development interventions. However, gender-sensitive and responsive approaches are limited in their ability to address gender-based causes of food and nutrition security as they are mainly focused on creating awareness on the inequalities related to gender norms and responsibilities, or to promote targeted interventions but none of them address the underlying causes.

Fig 1. Gender continuum

GTA, on the other hand, aim to address structural causes of unequal power relations as well as existing social norms in order to promote gender equality and empower women. GTA differ from other approaches as they take account of a specific context and how social inequalities influence choices and outcomes. They engage with both women and men and with different actors.

Gender inequality and community dynamics relating to women’s and men’s roles can have a significant impact on nutrition programmes throughout their lifecycle. For instance, the way data is disaggregated, collected and analysed might have a great impact in perpetuating gender inequalities or, on the contrary, it could contribute to progress on gender equality, if done properly.

Nonetheless, it is important to highlight that GTA cannot be achieved overnight. It is part of a long-term process that starting from the inclusion of gender-sensitive approaches looks at promoting gender equality by first raising awareness, then develop targeted measures and objective to promote gender equality (gender responsive) and ultimately achieving gender equality by challenging existing status quo and underlying social norms (GTA).

For this reason, programme implementers new to the gender paradigm should strive to integrate gender in all aspects of NIPN programming and policy, including programme design, implementation and evaluation with the ultimate goal of achieving gender equality through GTA.

Initial steps towards addressing gender disparities can start with performing gender-based analysis during all data management processes. Gender-based analysis involves understanding how health and nutrition differs between men and women can be related to the different roles and responsibilities that culture assigns to them. Particularly around power and decision-making, using both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods to examine gender roles and norms, and to provide meaning and context for why men and women behave in certain ways when interacting with the nutritional system and to understand the different opportunities, needs and constraints for women and men in a given context.

Programming can include integrating gender sensitivity training in institutional capacity development efforts, increasing awareness of inequalities among implementing partners and key actors, and encouraging critical assessments of existing harmful gender stereotypes. A successful gender sensitisation will be reflected in how data is collected, extracted and analysed, as well as how it is integrated into recommendations and communication to policymakers.

As information platform, NIPN can contribute to achieve gender equity by communicating in a gender-inclusive way. Leaflets, evidence-based reports or other communication means have to avoid gender bias language which perpetuate gender stereotypes.

Initiating conversations about gender and presenting individuals and institutions with an opportunity to critically reflect on how gender norms affect the well-being of individuals, families and communities is a key first step to transform the status quo and reduce gender inequality.