1. Bringing gender in at the start

In this step, you will consider how to integrate gender throughout your policy process.

Click here if you want to know more about how this tool can help you. If you are already advanced in your policy process, then you may wish to move directly to Step 2.

This step is intended for analysts using the tool early in the policy process (the earlier the better!). Given this, it contains links to some material in other steps, which we encourage you to consider now at a preliminary level and explore in more depth as your policy process develops.

Bringing gender into a policy process can be part of a wider ‘commissioning conversation’. In addition to your own agency’s resources in this area, the Policy Project has a template to assist with commissioning conversations. If you are not having a formal commissioning conversation for your policy project, then consider the questions below and discuss with others as appropriate.

What can do you about gender before the commissioning conversation?

Consider how your own knowledge, experiences and assumptions may influence your understanding of this issue. Are you willing to test your own assumptions? Commitment from you is essential to doing a good job and is demonstrated by a courageous, curious and thorough approach.

Consider the following at a preliminary level:

Ask to discuss gender at the commissioning conversation with the commissioner of your policy project. Signal you’ve done some preliminary thinking.

Consider running a ‘premortem’ early in the project, or even as part of the commissioning conversation.

A premortem is the opposite of a postmortem, occurring at the beginning rather than the end of a project. Developed by Gary Klein, in contrast to other risk mitigation techniques, a premortem doesn’t ask what might happen, but rather asks participants to imagine that the project has failed, and determine plausible reasons for this failure. By framing the failure as having already occurred, individuals feel more willing to critique and challenge approaches, particularly when organisational hierarchies may prevent them from doing so.

  • To help with a useful premortem, you could encourage participants to:
  • work on the assumption that your current ideas will be implemented without significant alteration
  • focus on the character of the policy instrument, whether it is forceful (as in legal requirements) or weak (as in symbolic).
  • pay attention to the groups you’ve identified
  • think back the results of similar policies in the past or in a different context, making sure that you consider contextual differences.
  • pay relatively little attention to detailed factors at this stage of analysis but capture this thinking, or any issues, for further down the track.

Make some notes around your answer to this question
What can do you about gender at the commissioning conversation?

It’s worth particularly focusing on these questions, modified from the Policy Project template:

  • What is success (from a gender perspective)? Who will benefit and who might lose out?
  • What are our starting hypotheses and assumptions about gender?

A key question is how will the commissioner of the project know that gender has been sufficiently considered in your project? You may wish to incorporate gender into your commissioning templates.

Following the commissioning conversation, consider how to effectively integrate the thinking and discussion into your project, including into planning documents.

Example: Rebuilding Christchurch after the earthquakes

Following the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes, demand for construction labour to help in the rebuild was high and employers struggled to fill roles. At the same time, there was a decrease in women’s employment. Gender analysis helped connect these issues together.

The Ministry of Women’s Affairs worked to bring gender analysis in at the start of the rebuild process by gathering data about women’s employment patterns after the earthquakes. This data showed that despite the high and increasing demand for labour in the rebuild, women’s employment in the construction industry remained flat.

Make some notes around your answer to this question
Completing Step 1

As you consider your responses to the questions above, you may want to capture your thinking in the downloadable worksheet below.

Download the worksheet

Download my notes
  • 1. Bringing gender in at the start
  • 2: Bringing gender into the policy issue
  • 3: Bringing gender into the policy options
  • 4: Bringing gender into engagement
  • 5: Bringing gender into implementation
  • 6: Bringing gender into monitoring and evaluation
  • 7. Bringing gender into a Cabinet paper
  • Wellington Summit 2019