A little background
Historically, and by design, power structures have favoured men; there is not a single country which is not a patriarchy, resulting in a worldwide gender gap. This gender gap takes on many forms; financially it means that globally, on average, women make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, leaving women more financially vulnerable. A lot has been done over the past decades to reduce the global gender gap and improve opportunities for women, girls, and non-binary people. Yet significant gender gaps remain across sectors in all countries across the world.
According to UN Women, achieving full gender equality is still centuries away. Indeed, according to the progress of SDG5’s targets and indicators, the world is not even remotely on track to achieve gender equality by 2030.
These numbers might be depressing, but it also shows how much room for progress there is, especially in the work of development and humanitarian organisations. We are not giving up, because there can be no social, climate or economic justice without gender justice.
“The path to equal faces many obstacles. Yet it is the only path to a more peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.”The paths to equal, UN Women & UNDP (2023)
Gender equality vs. Gender equity
Gender equity is necessary to achieve gender equality. Simply put, gender equity acknowledges that there is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ path to equality because a shared ‘starting point’ does not exist. Therefore, the diverse needs of men, women and non-binary people call for different responses to achieve gender equality.
The principles of gender equity directly align with human rights because the right to live life free of discrimination (including on the basis of gender), is enshrined in the UDHR and ICCPR. Cordaid is committed to these and other international agreements on gender equality, such as: the UNSC WPS resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960, 2106, 2122, 2242, 2467, 2493 and the CEDAW convention.
Cordaid concentrates on fragile and conflict-affected settings where poverty is linked to a lack of stability and governance. The health and well-being, opportunities and rights of women, girls, and groups that are vulnerable (such as non-binary people and LGBTQA+) suffer disproportionally from the insecurity and violence that define daily life in their communities.
Violence against women and girls affects their economic and political opportunities, their mobility, their personal health, and their ability to get an education. The flipside of the coin is that gender inequality is also a fundamental cause of fragility, as it intersects with other power imbalances in the economic, political, and religious domains of social life.
It is our mission to reduce vulnerability and build resilience in fragile and conflict-affected societies by promoting: economic empowerment, political participation, improved food security and access to health care. Within these areas, a gender transformative approach is taken in all programmes, specific gender standalone programmes are designed, and an enabling environment for Cordaid employees, partners and project participants is fostered.
Words are important. Here’s how Cordaid defines, understands and applies gender-related terminology: viol
- Gender equality: refers to the equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of women, men and gender diverse people.
- Gender equity: the process to achieve equality, which at times means different treatments to achieve equal outcomes in terms of rights, opportunities, and benefits according to the respective needs of women, men, and gender diverse people.
- Intersectionality: coined by African American scholar, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, intersectionality is a way of thinking of inequality or disadvantage consisting of multiple, compounded obstacles. Issues of gender inequality are interconnected with other injustices and systems of oppression, such as colonisation, race and class discrimination.
- Gender transformative approach: the attempt to re-define gender roles and relations, also known as ‘gender positive’.
- Gender mainstreaming: a process that systematically integrates gender perspectives into legislation, public policies, programmes, and projects.
- Gender sensitive: an approach in project, programme and policy design which attempts to redress existing gender inequalities.
- Gender neutral: an approach which ensures that projects, programmes and policies do not reinforce existing gender inequalities.
- Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV): violence targeted at individuals or groups based on their gender.
For more definitions related to gender, see our gender policy below.
Cordaid’s Gender Policy
A sound gender policy, capable of transforming power relations and levelling the power balance at the level of households, communities, services, and society at large, is key to the achievement of our goals.
“As Cordaid we strive towards inclusiveness, thus we recognise that gender is not binary but a spectrum of gender identities and expressions.”Cordaid Gender Policy
Our gender policy outlines our commitment to gender equity and to achieving a gender transformative approach for all projects by 2030. The objective of our gender policy is to ensure that all genders participate in peace processes and can access appropriate sexual and reproductive health, and that women are free, capable, and enabled to exercise their human and economic rights.
To that end, we follow these 4 operational principles:
- For project design and programmes, include: gender and power analysis, programme strategy based on this analysis, a results frameworks with gender disaggregated indicators for monitoring & evaluation, and a gender marker to assess project proposals and implementation.
- Collect gender and age-disaggregated data throughout all our programmes.
- Integrate the gender dimension into thematic programmes and facilitate gender standalone programming where possible.
- Appoint, train and coach gender focal points in each country office and sustain the Cordaid Gender Community of Practice (CoP).
For Cordaid, working on gender means working with women, men, and non-binary people from diverse backgrounds and from an intersectional approach. This means we strive to work inclusively and to not discriminate based on gender, age, class, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or gender expression (LGBTQI+) and physical ability (disabled people).
In our project evaluations and programme design we integrate results frameworks that include gender disaggregated indicators, ideally with intersectional approaches to monitor against and measure the results achieved in women empowerment and gender equality.
Diversity and inclusion
A world without racial justice can never be a just world. For a true shift in power, it is essential to embrace diversity and inclusion. Diversity is part and parcel of our efforts to build peaceful, equitable and resilient societies.
Within Cordaid’s organisational setup, racial justice, diversity, and inclusion are high on the agenda. Equity in relationships, job opportunities that promote diversity, combating implicit and explicit discrimination and racism, and awareness raising are critical. Explicit policies are developed to ensure that our organisational setup and our working relations mirror the values of our vision and mission. Our narratives and our language reflect our conviction. Discussions around shifting the power that produce inclusive, non-racist language further stimulate these efforts.
Gender and health
In conflict-prone and fragile contexts, women and girls are more vulnerable to (sexual) gender-based violence and more likely to face obstacles to accessing health care. At the same time, men and boys rarely report (sexual) and gender-based violence due to stigma. Access to health care is a fundamental human right, regardless of gender, race, nationality, religion, disability or financial status. That’s why Cordaid works towards strengthened, transformed and inclusive health systems that benefit underserved people in fragile and conflict-affected settings. Our approach is holistic, meaning that we are responsive to individual and societal needs in their full diversity, particularly safeguarding access to essential services for those most at risk: women, girls and non-binary people.
Our health care focus areas are: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Mental Health & Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) and communicable diseases (HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria). In each of these areas we adopt a gender sensitive approach, also when combined with other approaches to health system strengthening (e.g. results-based financing, or RBF).