UN Women are currently mid-way through a global evaluation of their strategic partnerships.

As part of this process, we would love to know more about the views and experiences of the community regarding what characterises effective partnerships for gender equality. The evaluation team will use this information to help compare and contrast our findings about the performance of UN Women. However, by asking four questions that are pertinent to all partnerships, we hope that the discussion will also be useful for your work.

We will post a new question every 3 days. To get started, it would be great to hear your thoughts on our first question:

  1. What is the best example of a partnership you have seen between two or more organisations to address gender equality, and what made it great?
  2.  What factors enable effective partnerships for gender equality and women’s empowerment?

Many thanks!
Joseph Barnes
(co-team leader)

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Over the past week we have run 2 twitter polls on gender equality partnerships, with over 1000 responses between them.

People are telling us that 'feminist values' and 'good communication' are critical characteristics for effective GEWE partnerships. Does this ring true for you?

Our second question is: What factors enable effective partnerships for gender equality and women’s empowerment?

I think for effective partnership for gender equality and women empowerment can be envisaged through balance education for girl and boy child,increasing early childhood development interventions, increasing women’s labor force participation and strengthening labor policies affecting women, improving women’s access to credit, land especially in Africa where some tribes do refused women access to these facilities, promoting women’s political rights and participation etc

The importance of the empowerment of women through gender balanced leadership is not well understood by most. I have changed from calling myself a feminist to calling myself an equalist. The reason that I have done that is that by using 'feminist' it assumes all women are in favour of equality and by inference that men are not. These assumptions are clearly false but nevertheless are often underpinning the debate around empowering women. I was a founding member of the 5050 group in Ireland. We encountered the difficulties of assuming that women who want equality for themselves necessarily wanted it for others as well. In having the debate about descriptive representation of women it needs to be understood that that doesn't necessarily mean embracing feminist values. Feminist values are not necessarily held by women in power - Sarah Palin and Margaret Thatcher being examples. However unless the number of women is increased then the attainment of feminist values cannot be achieved.

Thank you Colette for sharing your experience in Ireland, it's very thought provoking. You speak about being intentional about the underlying assumptions and names that we carry. In your experience, does this have implications also for the nature of partnerships between groups or organisations that are working towards common goals (e.g. the way that the 5050 Group works with others)?

Yes in my experience it is important to understand the ideological differences between women. In the 5050 group we encountered those differences and it proved challenging to hold the group together. We managed to get gender quotas for candidate selection implemented for general elections in Ireland. However the controversy was about naming how politics would be different with more women. It is not possible to predict because it depends on the ideology of the women that get elected. It is true that a gender balanced politics is better than an all male assembly and that is the key point. However if the women elected are ideologically in favour of hierarchies then the outcomes can be less satisfying to those who argue for equality for all. That is my main point.

I am afraid this is a very delayed response. I entirely agree with Colette. I have experienced it quite a few times , working st grassroots level as well as at higher levels, that even if women are aware of gender gap and are trying to reduce it, some of them continue to believe in maintaining other hierarchies based on Class and caste( particularly in India context). Eventually it does depend on their level of awareness, sensitivity and strong intention to bring about a change. Otherwise it dilutes the effort and the outcomes. Nonetheless ,it IS important to have women in good number in decision making processes and forums , representing different castes, class and other groups to be able to voice their opinion , needs and priorities, to begin with.

I really like this Collette Finn and hope that I can borrow this from you.  Equalist says a lot more. And maybe this word will change again overtime and that's ok but for right now we really do want to ensure that people understand the "no one must be left behind" philosophy.  Equality...  

Thank you Jude for your contribution. I would love to build on your comment.

All of the thematic interventions you have noted require joint work between multiple organisations and groups of people – often quite large and diverse groups of stakeholders.

Are there any common features of those partnerships – no matter in which sector – that you have found to be vital to success?

1. A partnership that makes a difference between partnering organizations is one that that makes all partners feel equally respected when integrating gender equality. Such a partnership feels best when differences enrichen this same process even in dissent.

2. Factors of effective partnerships for gender equality and women's empowerment include recurrent and lasting cooperation, one that that does not only occur once. Partnerships can be most effective when listening carefully, and when allowing diversity to become part of the game, not the exception.

Thank You for asking!

Susanne Bauer, independent gender consultant


One of the examples, I would say, is the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality project implemented by the government of Afghanistan and executed by UNDP with financial support of five donors. The integration of the policy, economic empowerment and justice (social empowerment)  as well as engagement of different line ministries and civil societies at different administrative layers  made the partnership project great. 

Reviewing existing policies from the gender lens and improving them is one the enabling factors. Involving both women and men at different levels in social development, advocacy, capacity development of both right holder women and men and duty bearer women and men, engagement of women and men market economy, use of social media, complementarity in work between women and men and different stakeholders, good governance and campaign for gender justice are some of the factors that promote gender equality and women empowerment. Among them, economic empowerment is the prime factor which leads to social empowerment. 

Thanks Gana for sharing your example. We will take a look at the project you mention!

Thank you Susanne, your points resonate well with things that we are hearing in our case studies. I wonder if you have come across any examples within your practice that exemplify these characteristics?


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