Concepts, Research, Policy
Edited by Sylvia Chant
Chapter 11: Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend? Experiences with the Gender Action Learning System
Linda Mayoux There is now overwhelming evidence that gender inequality is a key cause of poverty, and women’s empowerment a key strategy for reducing it. Despite statements to this effect in policy documents of most donor agencies and many governments, gender issues are still widely marginalised in most poverty reduction initiatives apart from a few measures targeted to women entrepreneurs or female-headed households. Addressing gender inequalities within households and communities is widely seen as both less important, and more difficult to address, than household-level material poverty and well-being. Such assertions are often based on assumptions about the views of women and men at the community-level, and inevitability of conflict and the need for cultural sensitivity. This chapter challenges these views based on experience of a methodology called the Gender Action Learning System (GALS) in Uganda, Sudan, India, Pakistan and Peru. The analyses of poverty produced by both women and men clearly show the centrality of gender inequalities to household poverty. Men as well as women, provided they are given sufficient support and space, have identified their own behaviour as key causes of poverty and identified and implemented effective strategies for change which they themselves have undertaken as individuals. These provide a basis for community-led collective action and advocacy for change. Gender Action Learning System (GALS): methodology overview GALS is the adaptation of a generic methodology, Participatory Action Learning System (PALS), specifically to analyse and address gender issues.1 GALS adapts very simple diagramming tools: Diamonds, Road Journeys, Trees and Circles to...
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