Gender mainstreaming is a strategy and process to ensure that gender equality is an integral part of all policies, plans and programmes. It is about ensuring that girls’/women’s and boys’/men’s views, experiences, interests and needs shape the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of interventions. Gender mainstreaming goes beyond increasing girls’/women’s participation; it facilitates equal opportunities, benefits and outcomes for both girls/women and boys/men.
Gender equality is central to the Commonwealth of Learning’s (COL) agenda of learning for sustainable development, and COL has adopted gender mainstreaming as an organisational strategy. By setting gender equality as a cross-cutting corporate goal, COL strives to ensure that both girls’/women’s and boys’/men’s views, interests and needs influence planning, policies and programmes.
Gender mainstreaming provides equal opportunities for girls/women and boys/men to participate in and benefit from COL’s development interventions in open and distance learning (ODL). COL also supports the institutional capacity of its partner institutions to mainstream gender equality in the planning, development, and monitoring and evaluation of learning programmes.
Learning opportunities are the drivers of social change and economic growth. Gender mainstreaming is one vehicle for ensuring equitable access to these learning opportunities. It is the essential tool for achieving gender equality, which in turn facilitates the achievement of sustainable development.
ODL institutions can initiate gender-responsive learning through a two-pronged approach: by establishing an organisational culture that promotes gender equality, and by identifying and addressing the barriers to learning for both girls/women and boys/men. Gender mainstreaming equalises:
It addresses systemic and structural gender discrimination and helps to remove the obstacles preventing full enjoyment of one’s freedoms.
COL has designed an institutional scorecard to help its partners monitor the status of their gender equality integration efforts and to perform a comprehensive and systematic self-assessment and documentation of steps taken towards achieving gender equality through policies, programmes and projects. It is designed to enable partner institutions to measure and compare the status of gender mainstreaming within an institution periodically, monitor progress towards minimum standards and focus attention on formulating approaches and measures that will allow both women and men to shape, participate in and benefit from quality learning opportunities.
COL’s Open Access Repository holds a range of resources related to gender mainstreaming, including Gender Mainstreaming in Learning for Sustainable Development, Gender Mainstreaming Toolkit for Teachers and Teacher Educators, Gender Impact Assessment and more.