Dimensions of gender mainstreaming in institutions: The SPO model

The goal of implementing gender mainstreaming is to ensure an output and outcome that contributes to gender equality. To achieve this, the internal mechanisms of an institution will have to be adjusted within a process of organisational development. This means there is an internal dimension of gender mainstreaming (organisational and personnel development) as well an external dimension (service provision).

Illustration of a ministry

It is therefore useful to distinguish between three different but related dimensions of organisational change, namely the a) structural and the b) personnel dimension of change as well as c) an output that contributes to gender equality (Frey/Kuhl 2003: 3). Changes within the structural and personnel dimensions are a precondition for achieving working results that correspond to the objective of gender equality.

Processes of organisational development (with high level executives as responsible actors) are the starting point; organisational learning processes are planned, coordinated and monitored within this dimension. Personnel development (with human resources units as responsible actors) will accordingly follow a policy of human resources management which is in line with the gender equality objectives of the organisation – for example giving incentives in performance assessment or staff competency development. A second aspect of human resources management is achieving equal opportunities for female and male staff within an institution.

If the process of institutional transformation within these two areas is successful, the output of an organisation will reflect the gender equality objectives of an institution.

Structural dimension

This dimension refers to the visible and invisible objectives, rules and procedures that an organisation follows. Some organisations express their goals in a mission statement. Tackling the structural aspect of an institution means gender equality is mainstreamed into the management and the procedures of an institution.

This dimension also addresses the organisational culture, including underlying, tacit beliefs and rules. The executive staff of an institution are the most relevant stakeholder group in terms of the structural dimension of change.

Guiding questions for dealing with the structural dimension of gender equality

  • Are staff members made accountable for achieving gender equality as a common goal within the institution?
  • Are resources for gender equality available and is gender taken into account in the institution’s budget planning?
  • Is gender equality part of the quality management process and are gender aspects included in management tools like project cycle management, research and evaluation?

Personnel dimension

This dimension has two important elements. Firstly, gender equality competence should be established as a key skill for all staff (irrespective of their sex), as part of their professional qualification. Civil servants working at different levels and in different sectors should be able to integrate gender equality into their work.

Gender equality competency implies having both theoretical and practical knowledge as well as an attitude which is supports achieving gender equality as a common goal. Gender equality competency can be attained through capacity‐building, training in various forms as well as incorporating gender aspects into the education of civil servants.

Additionally, incentives for contributing to the goal of gender equality within performance assessment can be used as a means to promote gender equality competence. Secondly, the organisation should have a balanced composition of women and men at all organisational levels and a working environment that promotes equality.

With regard to the personnel dimension, the human resources staff at an institution are the most relevant stakeholder group.

Guiding questions for dealing with the personal dimension of gender equality 

  • Is there communication and knowledge about gender equality and how an institution is to implement gender mainstreaming?
  • Is gender knowledge part of the human resource development in terms of competence development?
  • Do job descriptions include gender competence according to the respective task and does performance assessment also cover gender competence as appropriate to the respective job?
  • Is gender equality part of the information management system?
  • Is there an internal equal opportunities policy which is actively followed and monitored?

The following steps of “Gender Mainstreaming: A Guide to Organisational Change” focus on the personnel dimension

There are four steps of the guide which are linked to personnel development: communicating gender mainstreaming internally and establishing a gender information management system are both activities that address human resources. As a matter of course, developing gender competence also address human resources development.

The promotion of equal opportunities within the organisation’s personnel is mainly an issue within the scope of human resources (although the structural dimension may also come into play at this point).

Output dimension

Mainstreaming gender issues in the structural and the personnel dimension of an organisation is a precondition for a gender‐sensitive output and outcome. Gender mainstreaming in the dimension of output means that the working results and “products” of an organisation visibly and measurably contribute to gender equality.

With regard to output, the operative staff of an institution are the relevant stakeholder group.

Guiding questions for dealing with the output dimension of gender equality

  • Are there gender equality objectives as well as indicators regarding working results?
  • Are gender mainstreaming methods and tools employed as an integral part of the institution’s working routines?
  • Is there a gender action plan showing how the institution contributes to gender equality objectives?

The following steps of “Gender Mainstreaming: A Guide to Organisational Change” focus on the output dimension

Gender equality in the output – and eventually outcome – of an institution is the main objective of gender mainstreaming. Setting gender equality objectives addresses the results of an institution.Equally, the development, introduction and application of gender mainstreaming methods and tools targets an institution’s output. Finally, gender action plans also are directed at the working results of an organisation.

Gender mainstreaming with a on focus on institutional transformation ‐ examples