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Guidelines for Gender Sensitivity in Training and Coaching Programs

Author: Jagriti Shankar

APMAS-Gender Sensitive Management
Guidelines for Gender Sensitivity in Training and Coaching Program
These guidelines are developed to help service providers in preparing gender sensitive training materials and conducting gender sensitive training and coaching activities. These are general guidelines and should be taken into account when service providers prepare training materials related to any of APMAS themes like, project management, community development, or gender mainstreaming.
Women and men have different roles and different responsibilities. They use and control different resources. They have different needs and priorities as well. So training or coaching should be sensitive to the needs of both women and men at every stage i.e. conceptual phase, training needs assessment, training content development, training time and place decision, training delivery and post training follow-ups etc. Only when we take into account women’s needs at every stage, we can claim that the benefits of capacity building activities have reached to both women and men. The following guidelines will help service providers in preparing and delivering gender sensitive training and coaching program.
1. Training course and Trainer:
The training course should aims to ensure that it will equally benefit both women and men. A gender-sensitive program begins with the formulation of aims and objectives that are relevant to both women and men. The training course should address needs and expectations of both women and men. To achieve this, it is important to understand the gender roles and different needs of women and men in the target area. It may be useful to consult the potential participants, both women and men, and look at their background and fields of interest. Setting training objectives that take into account the gender perspective not only addresses women’s needs, but can more efficiently address the training topic/technical issues, thereby contributing to achieving overall goal of the training. It is important to understand that gender sensitive training does not have to talk about gender equality or discrimination, but is about making visible women and men’s roles and contributions, as well as taking into account their differential needs (Gurung et. Al., 2009).
2. Trainer
The trainers and facilitators must have the understanding of the gender perspective related to the subject matter. Whatever the topic may be, it always has a gender dimension and the trainer must be aware of this gender dimension, e.g. how the issue affects women and men differently, how women and men have different roles in the issue, their social factors, their different access to resources etc. Being aware of the gender perspective can help in the design of training content and methodologies according to different needs of women and men.
3. Training content
The content of the training should be gender sensitive. Sometimes we think that the issue is neutral and it has same implication for both women and men. But every issue has a gender dimension and it is necessary to discuss the issue from both women’s and men’s perspective. The content can be made gender sensitive by giving explicit examples from both women’s and men’s experiences and by highlighting the differences and similarities. The following checklist can help you develop gender sensitive contents:
3.1. Who’s Perspective?
The training course should cover the perspective of both women and men in all its themes and subthemes. It will be beneficial to provide an explanation of gender roles and responsibilities in the beginning of the training so that audience can understand how the issues impact differently to women and men.

3.2. Gender Analysis or Gender Tools
Does the topic need a gender analysis or gender tool? Sometimes using gender tools or gender analysis makes participants understand the issue in a better manner. For instance, if you are suggesting ways to involve women in a value chain upgrading intervention, then you should encourage your audience about knowing women’s current roles, responsibilities, constraints, social challenges etc. And Gender Analysis can produce this information.
Similarly, tools that help to understand differences in the lives of women and men should be introduced wherever appropriate, e.g. Women’s time use studies, Daily activity profile, Focus group discussions, Seasonal calendar, Stakeholder analysis etc.

 3.3. Language:
a. Check for normal tendency of writing or speaking dominating pronoun ‘he’ for doctors, directors and other higher level professions. And ‘she’ for lower paid jobs like secretary, teacher etc. If the scenario applies to both men and women then it should be written and spoken as ‘he or she’, ‘him or her’ etc.

b. Due to traditional beliefs people tend to assume that all low earning professions like teachers are female. To change this bias of perceptions may be you can make sure to explicitly highlight when women are in higher positions. One way of highlighting is by prefixing Mrs. /Ms. to their names.

c. Avoid inherent biased nouns like ‘chairman’, ‘salesman’, ‘mankind’, ‘manpower’ etc. and instead use the neutral nouns.
d. Make sure that gender related definitions are correct. These can be checked from a reliable official source. One of the good sources is :
3.4. Examples and Case studies
a. Avoid any cultural or religious references or statements which reinforce stereotypical roles of women like ‘women of xyz culture are house wives only’, ‘women are secondary to men’, ‘ In xyz religion women’s life is meant for serving their husband and children’ etc. 

b. Any cultural or religious references should be strictly avoided which comply or promote domestic violence.

c. Try to include best practice case studies which explain how the life of men and women can change for betterment
when men changed their attitude, became supportive and chose to be non-violent etc. discussing examples of women and men sharing professional and household responsibility will be helpful for both women and men.

3.5. Visual Representations
a. We often tend to forget that women can also become leaders and heads of organizations. That is why in the visual representations we notice women are often shown in subordinate positions listening to their male leaders. Avoid showing any visual that strengthens gender stereotype of men in dominant and higher positions, e.g. avoid showing male boss with female secretary, or only men as scientist, or only men playing outdoor sports etc. Though lesser in number but women are also leaders, heads of states, and heads of companies etc. It will be encouraging for women if you show pictures of fellow women in leadership positions. Or, you can have a balance by showing some pictures with women in lead positions and some with men in lead positions.

b. It will be also good to show pictures of men and women supporting each other in child care and household work in order to ease the gender stereotypes and encourage men to contribute in reproductive household work.

c. Try to use real human’s pictures instead of cartoons to show the real world scenarios and to which people can relate their lives
3.6. Data
a. Any data used in training material should be gender disaggregated in order to know who is being represented.

b. It will be good to clarify more on the data like who were the respondents e.g. rural/urban, men/women, ethnic minority etc. For example if the data says ‘respondents were head of households’ then most likely men were interviewed and women’s perspective was not taken into account.

 4. Gender sensitive facilitation and training methods
The trainers’ role is not only to provide technical knowledge, but also to create an environment conducive to discussion and sharing of experiences. Among the participants oftentimes a few men or women are vocal and expressive while others are shy. The trainer should try to balance such situation and ensure that shy persons speak and that deviating opinions are expressed and considered (Gurung).
Following are a few guidelines for gender sensitive facilitation:

a. Know and raise some gender dimensions related to the subject, and recognize and integrate gender aspects put forward by the participants

b. Ensure that both women and men express their opinion, and listen to and respect each other’s experiences and views

c. Create an atmosphere in which women and men feel respected, safe, and encouraged to share their views, and to interact with women and men with diverging views

d. Often in a mixed group, women are less inclined to express their opinion, share their experience, and ask questions, while men show more confidence in their knowledge and some tend to present and impose their views as being the opinions of the overall group. In such cases the trainer needs to make a special effort to help women speak up and be understood.
e. To encourage women’s active involvement in the training, the trainer may wish to select some topics on which women have more experience or knowledge. The trainer may also directly ask some women participants to share their experiences with the group by highlighting their findings. By doing this you can show that you are valuing women’s experiences.
• Gurung, Min Bdr ; Prakke, Diederik; Leduc, Brigitte (2009), ‘Guidelines for Gender Sensitive Training’, ICIMOD
• Gurung, Min Bdr ; Leduc, Brigitte (2009), ‘Guidelines for a Gender Sensitive Participatory Approach’, ICIMOD
• The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hil, ‘Gender Sensitive Language’, available at, accessed on 30 July, 2011
• Reeves, Hazel and Baden, Sally Bridge (2000), ‘Gender and Development: Concepts and Definitions’, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, available online at:, accessed on 30 July, 2011
• Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), ‘Gender and Training: Mainstreaming gender equality and the planning, realisation, and evaluation of training programmes’, available online at:, accessed on 5 September, 2011

Language:  English (United States)
Development Themes: Gender Community Based Development
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