The Interagency Gender Working Group (IGWG) promotes gender equity within USAID’s population, health, and nutrition (PHN) programs with the goal of improving reproductive health/HIV/AIDS outcomes and fostering sustainable development. Established in 1997, the IGWG has focused primarily on education and advocacy about gender issues, and on the development of operational tools for the integration of gender approaches into PHN programming.
Developing these tools has been an ongoing process. Since 1997, the various subcommittees and task forces of the IGWG have worked on identifying strategies to integrate a gender focus into programs, and, most recently, how to determine the preferred strategies. Thus, the IGWG has identified a continuum of strategies, ranging from those that exploit gender inequalities in the pursuit of reproductive health (RH) and demographic goals, to those that accommodate gender differences and, finally, to those that seek to transform rigid gender relations to promote equity. It has been important to identify the exploitative approach in order to highlight that this can happen and that it can be detrimental to pursuing the goals of gender equity.
The transformative interventions are those that attempt to promote gender equity through encouraging critical awareness of gender roles; improving the relative position of women; challenging the imbalance of power, distribution of resources, and allocation of duties between women and men; and addressing the power relationships between women and service providers. Change is, of course, a long process, and strategies that accommodate gender differences still play an important role, but it is the IGWG’s conviction that focusing increasingly on transformative interventions has a positive impact both on gender equity and on reproductive health and HIV outcomes.
The IGWG publications and products found under “Publications” above include early field work on gender issues, resources for priority-setting and advocacy, and tools that can help projects implement gender strategies.