Background: Nearly 20 years after the IGWG adapted the Gender Integration Continuum framework to depict and explain a range of approaches for gender integration in programming, the use of the term gender transformative by policymakers, donors, implementing agencies, and civil society actors has increased dramatically. Many donors and implementing agencies have endorsed this programming to advance gender equality, and evaluations of health programs using gender transformative interventions show promising results.
At the same time, new questions, tensions, and critiques about the application of GTP have emerged. The definitions, program elements, and measurement of GTP vary across institutions and geographies. These variations may mean that, as a community, we lack consensus about the core elements of GTP. While donors and implementers have a strong drive to incorporate this programming, many programmers face challenges—including a lack of tools, resources, and/or skills—that may limit their ability to implement these approaches and measure the complex nature of gender transformative outcomes.
Event Overview: The 2021 IGWG Plenary explored the current state of GTP in global health and, specifically, family planning and reproductive health. This event aimed to advance debate and consensus on definitions of and criteria for GTP, as well as highlight the potential gaps or limitations; share insights into factors for success in applying these approaches; and identify ways that gender transformative program elements can better be applied to policies and institutional practices and strengthen government health systems.
The event began with a panel discussion focused on the criteria that should be considered when defining GTP and definitional gaps and limitations. Panelists included:
- Jessica Backman-Levy (moderator), Associate Professor of Practice, Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and Senior Associate, Iris Group
- Prabu Deepan, Head of Asia Region, Tearfund
- Archana Dwivedi, Director, Nirantar India
- Katherine Hay, Incoming Distinguished Fellow in Gender Equity and Health and Senior Strategy Advisor, University of California, San Diego (Outgoing Deputy Director, Gender Equality, Gates Foundation)
- Rosemary Morgan, PhD, Associate Scientist, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
In breakout room sessions, participants shared lessons learned (including implementation challenges) from, best practices for, and future opportunities in applying and incorporating GTP in global health, including family planning and reproductive health. Discussions focused on integrating GTP at community, health systems, and public or institutional policy levels.