Gender Impact Assessment

Gender impact assessment 5 steps Gender Impact Assessment (GIA) is a stepwise process (see diagram) designed to evaluate the potential impacts of research before research decisions are finalized. The goal is for experts to provide evidence-based recommendations for research redesign—in the development phase. By employing the methods of gender and intersectional analysis, experts can assess: 1) the research objectives and priorities set (the people, contexts and knowledge that may have been overlooked in research design), 2) the conceptual research frameworks and analytical methods which may subconsciously exclude gender considerations, and 3) the research questions that were formulated with a specific focus that may exclude particular populations.

GIA is a technique increasingly used in line with the principles of Responsible Research Innovation (RRI) and in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is particularly relevant to fields of research and development (R&D) that rely on technological and networked infrastructure, and depend on adaption, such as in transport, urban planning, energy, mining, hydropower and agriculture (e.g. Pelez & Hanna, 2019; Spitzner & Buchmüller, 2016; Hill et al., 2017a, 2017b; Graef et al., 2018).

The five steps for GIA, based on Spitzner & Buchmüller (2016) and EIGE (2017), including the critical reflections of Bacchi (2010) and Verloo (2001, 2005):

Step 1: (Re-)defining the context and objectives of R&D design
  • • What is the identified problem to be solved?
  • • Why is it important?
  • • What is the purpose of the R&D project?
  • • How is it defined/framed in societal terms?
  • • What gender and other (in)equalities are explicitly addressed?
  • • Which indicators are included for tracking and monitoring gender and other (in)equalities?
Step 2: Explicating the relevance for GIA
Identify the gender dynamics at stake—either those already included or those that should be included. Consider:
  • • direct gender impacts, i.e. access to resources, such as funding, jobs, etc.
  • • indirect gender impacts, i.e. access to resources via services, institutions, structures, etc.
Step 3: Identifying prospective gender impacts by gender analysis
What is the current state-of-affairs?
  • 1. How do these affect the lives of women, men, and gender-diverse individuals?
  • 2. How do these affect knowledge? In other words, what gender biases are embedded in the knowledge base? For example:
    • o Do the research questions represent cross-gender perspectives across genders?
    • o How are expectations, needs, and barriers framed by gender?
    • o Are key terms, categorizations, assumptions, concepts, frameworks, and methods adequate to generate knowledge without implicit gender bias?
  • 3. What societal gender equality issues are at stake? How are inequalities addressed-including their roots in norms and values—addressed and how will equality be ensured? Consider:
    • o Representation and participation;
    • o Access and control of resources;
    • o Gendered mechanisms, routines and structures;
    • o Gender-based societal norms and valuations;
    • o Gender stereotyping and static representations.
Symbolic order—hierarchical gender constructions and positioning:
  • • Does the research design support gender identities equally; or does it value some over others in terms of societal, economic and political privilege?
  • • Does it create or reinforce symbols and narratives supporting gender equality?
    Societal goals as supportive of the UN SGDs:
  • • Does the research design address possible social, cultural, political and economic consequences?
  • • Which groups are addressed; and how are their roles, responsibilities and participation opportunities affected?
  • • Does the research design go beyond what is commonly considered important or a concern to specific groups; are these examined on an equal footing?
  • • Does the research design support the redistribution of gender-biased duties or rights, such as housework or land inheritance?
Access and control of resources and public infrastructure:
    • Does the research design lead to equal use of and access to resources, public space, public infrastructures and public budgeting?
  • • Are the interests and priorities of women, gender-diverse individuals and under-represented minorities taken into account?
Institutional framing and definitions of power:
  • • Does the research design privilege specific points of view as the norm?
  • • Does it support generalizations claiming to be “representative”, “natural”, “objective” or “of general usefulness”?
  • • Does it contribute to gender-responsive subject-specific and field-specific knowledge bases?
Representation and participation:
  • • Does the research design lead to greater agency for underrepresented groups as well as equal and balanced representation in the fields addressed?
  • • Does it support the representation of gender-balanced and underprivileged groups in planning and decision-making?
  • • Does it increase the integration of societal issues important to the lives of people in these groups?
Violation of integrity borders:
  • • Does the research design contribute to reducing harassment across genders or underprivileged groups?
  • • Does it contribute to making safety and inclusivity the object of public infrastructure or private problem solving?
  • • Does it contribute to the safety of all people and the relief of threats, restrictions and sanctions?
Step 4: Evaluating prospective gender impacts in relation to design
Overall gender impacts seek to evaluate:
  • • what harmful, reinforcing, or transforming impacts on gender norms, gender identities and gender relations are envisaged?
  • • which aspects reinforce or reduce inequalities and which promote equality with respect to the status quo?
Step 5: Recommendations for design adjustments
Experts should provide data-driven recommendations:
  • • to suggest a framework for how the research project can better reduce gender inequalities and promote gender equality as this intersects with ethnicity, socioeconomic status, etc. (see Method: Intersectional Approaches).
  • • to revisit the foreseen envisaged negative impacts and develop strategies to turn these into positive impacts.

Works Cited

Bacchi, C. (2010). Gender/ing impact assessment: Can it be made to work?, in: Bacchi, C., & Eveline, J. (eds.) Mainstreaming politics: Gendering practices and feminist theory, University of Adelaide Press, 17-37.

EIGE (2017). Gender Impact Assessment: Gender Mainstreaming Toolkit. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

Graef, F., Hernandez, L. E. A., König, H. J., Uckert, G., & Mnimbo, M. T. (2018). Systemising gender integration with rural stakeholders' sustainability impact assessments: A case study with three low-input upgrading strategies. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 68, 81-89.

Hill, C., Madden, C., and Collins, N. (2017a). A Guide to Gender Impact Assessment for the Extractive Industries. OXFAM Australia

Hill, C., Thuy, P. T. N., Storey, J., and Vongphosy, S. (2017b). Lessons learnt from gender impact assessments of hydropower projects in Laos and Vietnam. Gender & Development, 25(3), 455-470.

Peletz., N. and Hanna, K. (2019). Gender Analysis and Impact Assessment: Canadian and International Experiences. Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI), Vancouver.

Sauer, A.T. (2018) Equality Governance via Policy Analysis? The Implementation of Gender Impact Assessment in the European Union and Gender based Analysis in Canada, Bielefeld: transcript Verlag.

Spitzner, Meike; Buchmüller, Sandra (2016). Energiesuffizienz - Transformation von Energiebedarf, Versorgungsökonomie, Geschlechterverhältnissen und Suffizienz. Wuppertal Report 8. ISSN 1862-1953.

Verloo, M. M. T. (2005). Mainstreaming gender equality in Europe: A critical frame analysis approach. Επιθεώρηση Κοινωνικών Ερευνών, 117, 11-34.



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