The new IASC Gender Marker Initiative

© Manoocher Deghati/2009
Somalia 2009.

Systematically Addressing Gender in Funding Appeals – How the Education Sector can get Full Marks

The Gender Marker Initiative was launched by the Sub-working Groups on Gender in Humanitarian Action and on the Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) to improve humanitarian programming and to make humanitarian response more efficient.

The gender marker will be mandatory in 10 countries in CAP (and CAP-like appeals) in 2011 – Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, DRC, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, oPt, Yemen, Pakistan and Haiti. GenCap Advisors are working with all 10 Humanitarian Country Teams to support the implementation of the initiative in CAP 2011. Guidance on the implementation of the gender marker initiative will be included in the CAP Guidelines 2011.

NAIROBI, 15 July 2010 – Recently, I arrived in Nairobi to work with the Somalia and Kenya humanitarian teams in developing their humanitarian funding appeal, which is known as a Consolidated Appeal Process or CAP (in the case of Kenya, the EHRP) for 2011. A CAP is a document that maps out the humanitarian needs, strategies, response plans, and associated projects and funding requirements and includes project sheets that reflect how each agency working in the sector proposes to work to achieve these.

Earlier in the year, together with some other GenCap colleagues, we reviewed five 2010 CAPs, which provided some interesting and useful insights, and which may assist education project designers in developing new projects or reviewing existing ones;

  • Very few project sheets in the CAP included meaningful sex-disaggregated data, which therefore ruled out the possibility of including a gender analysis.
  • From talking to project teams, we became aware of a great deal of good gender work that was not captured in the CAP project sheet proposals. Notwithstanding the space restrictions in the single-page project sheets, project designers need to improve the articulation of gender within their project needs analysis, activities and outcomes.
  • A number of education clusters/sectors identified gender dimensions in the needs analysis but seldom followed through into strategy with consequences for informing activities and related outcomes in the project sheets, i.e. the Needs Assessment – Activities – Outcomes continuum was not complete.

What does gender analysis in the needs assessment look like?

The foundation for a good gender project is having insightful gender analysis in the education sector needs assessment. It should always be possible to have at least one strategic, evidence-based sentence or paragraph that describes the needs or situation of men compared to women and/or boys compared to girls, which then serves to justify or shape project activities.

Gender analysis in the education sector needs assessment can include:

  • the distinct needs of female and male learners, teachers and other education personnel
  • the different risks that female and male learners and teachers face in accessing and staying in formal and non-formal education, and in travelling to and from and within the learning environment
  • what women, girls, boys or men say they can and want to do, or see done, to solve what they see as their most important problems in accessing education.

Applying a Gender Code to an Education Project

Code 0
A project codes 0 when there are no signs that gender issues are considered at all in the project design.

A project that contains cosmetic gender language such as ‘especially for girls’ or ‘particularly for preparatory boys’ is still a code 0. This is not meaningful. Meaningful gender analysis in the needs assessment explains ‘why’ or ‘how’ the situation is different for women/girls or men/boys, quantifies gender gaps or explains sex-specific needs, risks, roles or capacities in education.

Code 1
Code 1 projects have only one or two of the three essential components. That is, we see meaningful gender analysis in only one or two of the (a) needs assessment, leading to (b) one or more activities, and (c) related outcomes. In a Code 1 project, we see some of these three elements but not the needs-activities-outcomes flow. A Code 1 project signals that effort is only being invested in gender equality in isolated ‘bubbles’. This most often leads to a limited response to the needs and realities of women, girls, boys and men.

Many code 1 projects signal that the project team is aware and trying to advance gender equality, but still needs to invest more effort in project design.

Code 2a
A code 2a would be awarded if the needs of women, girls, boys and men are identified in the needs assessment and it is clear that this information subsequently informs and shapes activities and outcomes. This is what “gender mainstreaming” means: the project is designed to contribute significantly to gender equality.

A project will be awarded code 2a if there is gender analysis in the needs assessment and at least one activity AND at least one outcome. This needs assessment-activity-outcome continuum is critical.

Code 2b
The principal purpose of code 2b projects is to advance gender equality. Code 2b projects are targeted actions that are based on a gender analysis. There are two types of targeted actions; the first includes projects that identify one sex or a subgroup of men, women, girls or boys that has special needs or is being acutely disadvantaged (examples include an identified group of boy combatants or pastoralists, girls at risk of early marriage and/or pregnancy who do not or cannot attend school); the second includes projects that build gender-related services or better male-female relations. An example of gender-related services is a support and counselling service for girls and boys who are survivors of sexual violence. Projects that nurture better relationships often strive for more equal decision-making or more two-way communication between women and men, girls and boys. More equal and respectful relations between women and men and girls and boys are vital to cohesive families and communities.

Gender Inequality in and through Education - INEE Pocket Guide to Gender

Tip sheets and other gender marker materials are available at

Earlier this month, the INEE, together with the IASC Global Education Cluster and the IASC GenCap Project published a new Pocket Guide on Gender Equality in and through Education in Emergencies. This INEE Pocket Guide to Gender brings together essential gender equality programming principles and provides concrete strategies for putting gender equality into practice.

To download the document, see

- Siobhàn Foran, GenCap Advisor with the Global Clusters

Related link: Ask the Gender Expert

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