Good Practices Framework on Gender Analysis

Undertaking Gender Analysis: Framework Components

The characteristics and dynamics of gender crosscut all arenas of life. This guide serves as a starting point for teams to identify and explore key gender questions in light of programmatic priorities, resources available and time.

This framework outlines three key phases of gender analysis to explore gender dynamics from broader to local contexts:

A. Preliminary Foundations: the broader context in which to ground our understanding of gender relations.

B. Core Areas of Inquiry for Gender Analysis: key issue areas to probe for a deeper understanding of the characteristics and conditions of gender relations. Each area of inquiry cuts across CARE’s women’s empowerment domains of: agency, structures and relations.

C. Prioritizing Practical and Strategic Gender Issues: the identification of key strategic gender issues and practical rights that emerge from a gender analysis. In this phase of analysis, programmers should examine both the key immediate rights that affect women’s and men's conditions (practical rights) as well as the needed transformation in structures and relations to pursue gender equality (strategic interests).

Across each phase of analysis, teams should consider the following:

  • Gender norms change across time – How have values, norms and expectations around gender changed over the decades (positively and negatively) and what influences led to these changes?
  • Individuals experience life differently at different ages and life stages – How do different age groups (younger children, adolescents, adults and elderly) as well as marital status (unmarried, married, widowed, separated, divorced) experience gender and power issues differently?
  • Individuals maintain multiple roles and relationships (for example, as sexual partners, household and clan members, citizens of a broader community, economic actors, etc.).

Your gender analysis may be a combination of primary and/or secondary research.

Practical Considerations: Parameters and Preparation

Shaping the scope and methods of any study are a number of key parameters:

  • Scope (Projects versus Programs): Is the study intended for long-term programming or specific to a project/initiative? The scope of the gender analysis should be tailored to the size and complexity of the project or program.
    • For a project/initiative, the analysis may have a narrower focus, and focus on specific sector-related exercises.
    • For a long-term program, the gender analysis may be more detailed and comprehensive.
  • Resources: The depth and breadth of a study will be influenced by other factors, including: time available, project/program budget, as well as human resources. A CO may want to partner with a research institution or university for joint learning and analysis.
    Timing: Ideally, gender analysis will inform programmatic design. In some instances, however, gender analysis will be conducted after the design phase due to time constraints or other factors.
  • Emergency response: In an emergency context, it may not be feasible to touch on all aspects of the framework in analyzing gender. In these situations, please reference the Rapid Gender Analysis Tool for a checklist of questions related to gender in humanitarian contexts.

Careful preparation is absolutely essential to ensure that CARE works ethically and in line with its principles throughout this work. In designing analysis, careful consideration must be given to risk analysis and ethical considerations:

  • What are potential risks to participants or community members linked to this study? How can we ensure that we “Do No Harm”?
  • How can we ensure accountability, and promote empowerment and learning of participants as well as CARE staff and partners through the analysis process?
  • How can we ensure that we work sensitively and respectfully within communities?

Time and coaching must also be dedicated to support teams to build key skills for gender analysis:

  • Gender equity and diversity sensitivity: Build awareness, sensitivity and tolerance among staff and partners around gender, equity and diversity in our own lives and work, to enable critical reflection and analysis of the situations where we work.
  • Facilitation and analysis skills: Develop skills in empowering approaches that engage participants respectfully, promote and foster learning, center control with community members through participatory approaches, and engage in critical conversations that probe deeper into the topics in question.


Phases of Gender Analysis

A. Preliminary Foundations: Broader Context

To gain a broader understanding of gender dynamics, analysis includes exploration of:

  • Secondary data pertinent to development outcomes that are sex-disaggregated, including sex-disaggregated information on access to services, educational attainment, literacy, income and livelihood, mobility, workload, health and nutrition, morbidity and mortality, violence, etc. Where available, data should also be disaggregated across other key groups like caste, class, ethnicity, and other important characteristics of a given context;
  • Policies and laws related to human rights, especially implementation pertinent to women’s rights in a specific region/country/sector (Ratified Conventions such as CEDAW, Plans of Action, Gender Policy, Strategy, Monitoring and Reporting Commitments; and national-level programs that spell out the rights and services for representation, citizenship, family disputes, sexual and reproductive health);
  • Cultural norms, values, and practices related to gender (e.g. expectations on individuals around how they should behave or act, rites of passage into adolescence, adulthood, marriage, etc.).
  • Stakeholders and Relations: Information about lived experiences, attitudes and opinions of critical groups and actors in the context. This would require a mapping of key stakeholders and institutions, and exploration of their interests, motivations, characteristics and relations with one another. Institutions are both formal and non-formal and both public and private (e.g. Cultural/Religious, Legal/Judicial, Market/Economic, Political, Bureaucratic, etc.)


Related Tools:

Development Context

Policy Context

Cultural Norms




B. Core Areas of Inquiry

To help teams undertake a gender analysis, the CI Gender Network collaborated to identify core areas of inquiry for gender analysis. These represent key areas where the characteristics and dynamics of gender and power relations are negotiated. The core areas of inquiry draw on key lessons from CARE’s Strategic Impact Inquiry on women’s empowerment, gender assessment frameworks from major institutional donors (USAID, CIDA, etc.) and a review of gender frameworks for international development.

Your gender analysis should include a review of secondary data and further exercises with key stakeholders. The analysis may explore the following areas of inquiry.

These areas and questions are not to be simply adopted and applied. Rather, teams should read and reflect on this proposed menu of inquiry areas and questions. From these questions, COs can adapt guiding analysis questions based on what makes sense for their interests, resources, time and context.

Within each, key questions have also been suggested across Agency, Structures and Relations domains.

Please click the links BELOW for discussion on each area of inquiry, with examples of questions that a gender analysis may want to explore, taking into account the domains of agency, structures and relations.

  1. Sexual / Gendered Division of Labor
  2. Household Decision-making
  3. Control of Productive Assets
  4. Access to Public Spaces and Services
  5. Claiming Rights and Meaningful Participation in Public Decision-making
  6. Control over One's Body
  7. Violence and Restorative Justice
  8. Aspirations for Oneself


C. Prioritizing Practical and Strategic Gender Issues

The final phase to sharpen analysis works on prioritizing and acting upon strategic gender issues identified through this analysis. Based on the analysis of each of the above areas of inquiry,

  1. What are key practical gender-related rights? These generally involve addressing immediate needs that account for the different positions of women, men, girls and boys – what a person does or does not have, can and cannot do (agency). For example, drilling boreholes closer to households may save women time in fetching water, enable them to support household production and provide clean water for the family. Traditionally, service delivery and programs focus on these needs.  When trying to address more transformational strategic gender issues, programs may need to also address practical needs – since they are immediate and at the forefront of what individuals prioritize.
  2. What are key strategic gender issues? What are the key issues arising that reinforce unequal gender roles and relations? Where are the opportunities to promote more equal gender roles and relations? These generally involve social relations and structural issues, such as social positions, laws and norms affecting gender equality, and power dynamics between groups. For example, strategic issues include inequality in terms of:
  • Access to livelihood opportunities, resources and social networks;
  • Security;
  • Options in relation to economic and life choices;
  • Vulnerability to violence and exploitation;
  • Unequal political power and voice.Working on strategic issues aims to transform unequal gender relations through the promotion of solidarity and action among women and between men and women for inclusive and just development processes.

Reflecting on these questions and applying your analysis to programming (design and adaptation), it is important to consider: (1) the situation and context: (2) what is working well that could serve as leverage points in the project, or entry points for broader gender equality programming;  and (3) what barriers or challenges need to be addressed or considered within our programming?

Planning and Action

Based on the analysis and identification of key practical gender-related rights and strategic interests, programs and projects can use analysis to:

See the Women's Empowerment Impact Measurement Initiative (WEIMI) Guide for guidance on developing a women's empowerment program and learning system.

  • Incorporate gender considerations across the programmatic cycle: Into the program analysis, design, monitoring, assessment and learning, as well as project objectives, outcomes, activities, work plans, monitoring and reporting formats, review and evaluation guidelines and consultants TORs.
  • Shape Strategic and Operational Planning of Programs: Incorporate a gender and rights perspective into the development of long-term programs and strategies to place gender relations, and the intersection of gender and other categories of exclusion at the heart of CARE’s work. These perspectives should be integrated into top-level decision-making and priorities for CARE, as an organization whose vision and values place social justice, human dignity, non-discrimination and empowerment at the core of its work.
  • Develop strategies to address barriers and constraints, include these strategies in program/ project design and implementation, and ensure that they are adequately resourced.
  • Identify ways to monitor gender-related results or impacts: Develop and incorporate methods to track changes in gender norms/relations and track key indicators related to important gender issues.
  • Identify capacity building needs of CARE and partner staff and develop/implement a plan to address these needs. Be sure to include these plans in your budget and project workplans.
  • Engage advocacy for broader change to empower women, address strategic gender interests and transform gender relations.



Sources of Data for Gender Analysis at the Macro Level:

The quality of sources shape the quality of analysis. Possible sources of data can include the following. This list is not comprehensive and will vary for country to country:

  • Inter-governmental Agency Reports: UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA, UNDP-Human Development Report, UNAIDS, UNESCO-IIEP, World Bank
  • Donor Agency Reports: USAID Gender Assessments, DFID Publications
  • CEDAW and CRC Shadow Reports
  • National Progress Reports, laws, policies, census information, statistics (Living Standards, Development) and ministry statistics
  • Demographic Health Surveys
  • Household Budget Surveys, Labor Surveys
  • Gender Profiles

Related Resources on Analysis

  • CARE International-East/Central Africa (2010). Situational Analysis for Program Design.
  • CARE International-Austria (2009). Gender Analysis Guiding Notes.