How do changes in gender relations happen?

The Zimbabwe Gender Equality and Change Study explored the perspectives of women and men from poor and marginalised communities regarding changes in gender relations in their lifetimes, and how these changes came about. The study adds significantly to international knowledge regarding effective strategies to promote gender equality, including women's economic empowerment, rights-based approaches, addressing gender-based violence, wife inheritance and polygamy, and methods for engaging with men.

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About This Innovation

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Provide a status update for your Innovation.

The study needs to be replicated to further explore the factors that contribute to and constrain positive changes in gender relations - and this is needed in a variety of settings. There is interest in replicating the study from some key partners, but no funds currently to do so. The study was not an evaluation of any particular development program or project, but it did point to key markers for effective interventions to promote and sustain gender equality. This research is needed to improve the effectiveness of development efforts globally to make progress towards the goal of gender equality.

How does your innovation work?

This is a research study that begins (or continues, depending on the setting) a dialogue with women and men about what changes in gender relations have occurred in their lifetimes, and how these came about. The trial showed that there is a huge appetite for this conversation among very poor women, although less so among men. The research promotes reflection on what changes have occurred, and what they value (or not) about these changes.
The aim in replicating the study is to partner with a development agency that is committed to continuing this conversation at various levels, and taking on board the (challenging) lessons for development practice that it throws up.

What Evidence do you have that your Innovation works?

The research methodology was trialled in the Zimbabwe Gender Equality and Change study, and proven to be an effective research method that yielded valid results.

Do you have current users or testers?

Plan International Australia and Plan International Zimbabwe tested the methodology with Dr Juliet Hunt as the principal researcher.

What is your strategy for expanding use of your innovation?

I have disseminated the findings from the Zimbabwe study as much as possible - by placing a range of publications on the researchgate website, by email distribution to key stakeholders, and by sharing the findings at several seminars and conferences in Australia and in the Netherlands. Publications include the full and abridged reports, PowerPoint presentations, and a series of info-graphics/posters.
In Zimbabwe, the partner (Plan International Zimbabwe) shared the findings at workshops with community members and local stakeholders; a separate community dissemination document was prepared and translated for this purpose, and a guide developed to enable staff to continue the discussion.
Similar strategies will be used if the study is replicated.

Next Steps

1. Identification of partners - this is already in process. Preliminary discussions have been held with an academic institution and an international non-government aid organisation (INGO). Although both see the value of replicating the study, neither have adequate resources to fund a multi-country study. However, both are willing to dedicate resources in kind, and to contribute to the analysis and dissemination of findings.
2. Identifying funding sources.
3. Identifying countries and settings for the study
4. Identifying and training a field research team.
5. Implementing the study
6. Validation of findings and analysis with research team in-country
7. Dissemination of findings and recommendations on the implications for development programming