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Outcome Mapping Practitioner Guide

OM to increase gender awareness

Using an OM approach to boost gender analysis and results in gender mainstreaming efforts.

Author: Anja Taarup Nordlund

Published: Wednesday 17 September 2014

Key for gender mainstreaming is the gender analysis. If this is not in place, gender strategies risk being irrelevant, lack budget and the likelihood of implementation is close to zero. I have seen hundreds of project proposal stating: “this project is developed with a gender perspective” but with no analysis, no results framework lifting gender and consequently completely gender blind. In a coaching situation I refrain from telling people about their gender inequalities (i.e. at organisational level), instead I facilitate a process where people reach such conclusions themselves. I often put very basic gender tools for analysis to the table as I have seen that often basic questions lead to significant mind shifts when people make their own analysis.

For me OM has provided a tool to make people go deeper into their own gender analysis. I am on a very consistent basis using OM for the following:

  • To explain the results chain and relate that to what we control, directly influence and indirectly influence to shift focus on outcomes as this significantly impact on what we can obtain with what resources also in gender mainstreaming,
  • Identifying boundary partners, inside and outside the organisation. It is difficult to gender mainstream a project (operational level) if you do not gender mainstream you own organisation (institutional level). Staff and management are key groups to reach changes at both.
  • Using expect, like, love to formulate realistic progress markers (at both institutional and operational level). Gender expectations become much more realistic when people start to think through all that is required to make a cultural shift in their own organisation (institutional level) or in their efforts (boundary partners). The process eventually also leads to a deeper gender analysis as you cannot develop progress markers without the analysis.
  • To coach groups/organisations in identifying who they interact with and where they are likely to get results (we all want to mainstream everything), OM helps illustrate with what agents we are more likely to get results, hence making it easier to take strategic decisions.

Some simple nuggets:

  1. I ask people to ‘draw’ their project/their organisation and sometimes both! More specifically I ask people to indicate on a flipchart or paper WHO they work with (from overall stakeholders to boundary and indirect boundary partners). Secondly, to show in the drawing who they have a close contact with and thirdly to indicate where they think changes in relation to gender is necessary in order to achieve the mainstreaming they are aiming at. Analysing the drawings often leads to a conclusion by the project owner/organisation that the closer the people/groups/organisations (direct and indirect boundary partners) are to themselves, the more likely it is that they can make a difference and track it, at a reasonable price. The further away, the more expensive and the less likely they will achieve their results.
  2. I try to use the language of the organisation with whom I interact – if they do not use the term ‘boundary partners’ neither do I. However, I still explain that there are people, groups, organisations closer to us than others and that it is easier to influence (and be influenced by) someone you actually interact with – one way or another.
  3. Progress markers. As many others I believe that the process of achieving change is started already when we start to communicate about it. When using OM – especially the development of progress markers – project/organisational objectives are kick started if the analysis is done together with the boundary partners in question. My experience is that WHO ‘owns’ the analysis also ‘owns’ the challenges at hand and consequently the solutions, being inclusive and inviting your partners in OM gender analysis significantly increases the likelihood of achieving results. Consequently, I emphasise the need to include all relevant partners, although more time consuming at first it pays off later. Identifying your expectations on others when it comes to gender also means you are questioning cultural values and behaviour, this can potentially backfire and should be handled with care. Sometimes I explain the need for inclusion as: “if someone tells you that your home is dirty and then make a plan for how to clean it – what is the likelihood you will clean your home? Do you even think it is important to clean? Gender calls for reflections together and OM can provide the tool.
  4. From LFA I use risk/assumption for identification of potential needs to bring in other boundary partner to the project design. If a stakeholder is very influential they can either ‘help‘ or ‘hamper’ a gender mainstreaming effort. If they are hampering the change process, the project/organisation must decide whether they can positively influence this stakeholder and consequently what they want to achieve.






This nugget was applied in: The approach is being used in training and coaching on gender mainstreaming (experiences from Sweden, Caucasus and the Balkans), in gender mainstreaming efforts in projects and/or in institutional strengthening in public institutions, NGOs, INGOs and private sector.

Related Practitioner Guide sections:

Latin America & Carribean Sub-Saharan Africa North Africa & Middle East South Asia South East Asia & Pacific Far-East Asia Eastern Europe & CIS (ex USSR) Western Europe North America & Canada Australasia