Published on July 30, 2020

As more and more states and organizations adopt a gendered approach to international policy, trainings on how to conduct gender-based analysis and integrate gender perspectives into policies and programming have proliferated. These trainings vary widely in their target audience and format. They also vary in their institutional origin: some are designed by international or regional organizations like the UN or NATO, some by institutions associated with states, and some by third-party NGOs, training institutes, and academic institutions.

Despite this increase in gender trainings, it remains unclear how effective they have been due to challenges related to their design, delivery, targeting, and evaluation. On design, gender trainings often have difficulty striking the right balance between normative and strategic considerations and between theory and practice. They also tend to conflate gender, women’s inclusion, and sexrelated issues. The method of delivering trainings can also pose gendered barriers to participants’ access.

On delivery, the challenge is finding experts who understand gender, can speak to the specific issues that require a gender perspective, and are familiar with how to apply this perspective in field operations. On targeting, the challenge is identifying participants who are likely to make good use of the training and tailoring the training’s content and method of delivery to their needs. Finally, all gender training faces a daunting challenge with regard to evaluation, as it is difficult to observe socialization and changes in beliefs and practices in the short term.

These challenges call for greater rigor in the design, delivery, and assessment of gender trainings to make them more coherent and effective. Toward this end, those designing gender trainings should consider the following:

• Conducting a preliminary needs assessment to adapt trainings to their audience;

• Soliciting feedback at every stage of the training, including “live” feedback during the training;

• Grounding training in local contexts and providing evidence to back up claims; and,

• Generating self-reflection by both participants and trainers during evaluations.

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