Gender Action learning System Methodology
Gender norms and stereotypes constrain the opportunities for both women and men. According to World Bank gender overview (2016)1, gender inequality has put females at a disadvantage with women facing legal and social barriers that prevent them from owning or inheriting assets, and accessing credit. In most parts of the world, women take on the burden of unpaid care work including fetching water, and generally domestic chores among others.
In the face of these and more challenges, achieving gender justice has become of great concern globally. As such, poverty eradication strategies must see women as active agents and not inherently vulnerable. Women make productive and essential contributions to their community and country.
There is quite some effort by a number of stakeholders at different levels to develop new methods of analysis and approaches to address the ever-changing facets of gender inequalities. As an organization devoted to the advancement of women’s rights and empowerment, Oxfam is working with partners around the world on issues related to gender justice. Over the years, we have piloted and are scaling up inclusive methodologies and tools. The pilots are a basis for wider advocacy in policy and practice change.
One of such key methodologies that has been instrumental in our program work in Uganda is the Gender Action Learning System (GALS) methodology – a community- led empowerment methodology based on underlying principles of social and gender justice, inclusion and mutual respect. In particular, it promotes women’s rights. It can be adapted to different context-from communities to cooperatives, private commercial companies, and other organizations-, and for different purposes, including: livelihoods, food security, financial services, value chain development, conflict resolution, governance, health, reproductive rights and climate change among others.
GALS uses participatory processes and diagram tools enable household members to negotiate their needs and interests to find innovative, gender-equitable solutions in livelihoods planning and interventions. This has proved to be effective in giving women and men more control over their lives as the basis for individual, household, community and organizational development. It has yielded positive impact in the areas where it was piloted over the years. In the global fight against poverty, much progress cannot be realized without addressing the key drivers of inequality, gender being one of them.
We are working towards increased adoption of the GALS methodology as an approach that promotes gender inclusion and equality in all development interventions/projects and programs by government, private sector, donors and all development partners. This however will require concerted efforts. We believe for example the government could use the GALS methodology to engender budget processes looking at gender as a critical issue that needs to be planned for and financed.
We continue to use the experiences from the pilot projects such as the farm and family balance to influence other actors for uptake but more needs to be done to finance initiatives that assist the scale up of this methodology.
In our view and experience, we believe GALS is a very powerful and transformational tool in terms of developing a country. Together, we hope we can scale up such methodologies and others towards achieving gender justice and essentially inclusive development. The GALS methodology booklet showcases the impact of the methodoly in some areas where it has been implemented.