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Examining programming along the gender continuum.


This exercise allows participants to understand how different projects interact with gender across the continuum, and assess their own programming through this lens. This offers an opportunity for teams to identify ways forward toward more gender aware and gender transformative practice.


The facilitator explains that CARE looks at programming through a gender lens using a Gender Continuum, developed by the USAID Interagency Gender Working Group.

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This identifies different ways projects engage gender, which range from levels of awareness:
  • Blind refers to the absence of any proactive consideration of the larger gender environment and specific gender roles affecting program/policy beneficiaries. Gender blind programs/policies would give no prior consideration for how gender norms and unequal power relations affect the achievement of objectives, or how objectives impact on gender.
  • Gender Aware refers to explicit recognition of local gender differences, norms, and relations and their importance to outcomes (could be health, education, livelihoods related outcomes) in project design, implementation, and evaluation. This recognition derives from the analysis or assessment of gender differences, norms, and relations in order to address gender equity in outcomes.
And the nature of engagement:
  • Gender Exploitative refers to approaches to project design, implementation, and evaluation that take advantage of rigid gender norms and existing imbalances in power to achieve the program objectives.
  • Gender Accommodating approaches acknowledge the role of gender norms and inequities and seek to develop actions that adjust to and often compensate for them. While such projects do not actively seek to change the norms and inequities, they strive to limit any harmful impact on gender relations.
  • Gender Transformative approaches actively strive to examine, question, and change rigid gender norms and imbalance of power as a means of reaching outcomes (in a particular sector) as well as gender equity objectives.
For each, the facilitator asks for examples we have seen of work that is exploitative, accommodating or transformative.

To practice applying the continuum, there are two options:
Option A: Looking at existing strategies we have used
In this option, the facilitator breaks participants into their existing work teams. In the case of CARE Nepal, participants split across different working areas/partner organizations. The facilitator asked participants to first list the strategies they engage and discuss if the strategy is exploitative, accommodating or transformative.

Option B: Examining draft programmatic strategies
In Option B, the facilitator gives participants a set of strategies from the current programmatic thinking. In groups, participants discuss with one another how they would classify each strategy:

After groups have finished, they take turns presenting their decisions. Note, clarify that work with single-sex groups in itself is not exploitative. The continuum helps us reflect on how programming interacts with existing gender dynamics to create space for critical reflection, dialogue and more equitable relations.
In plenary, it may be useful to probe:
  • How are certain strategies exploitative?
  • What makes certain strategies accommodating and not exploitative or transformative?
  • What harms do we see? Or is there a risk?
  • What can we do to look out for these harms? And to respond to them?


There is a tendency for groups to think that activities that are facilitated exclusively with women or exclusively with men are exploitative. The facilitator should probe into rationale of members’ choices in considering particular strategies across the gender continuum.


Source: GED New Materials, Gender Wiki