Planning frameworks
Core Text

Gender Planning Frameworks

Comparison chart
General frameworks:

Harvard Framework
Moser/DPU Framework
Longwe/Women’s Empowerment Framework
IDS Framework
Gender Analysis Matrix (GAM)

Sector specific frameworks:

People Oriented Planning Framework (conflicts and emergencies)
Capacities and Vulnerabilities Framework (conflicts and emergencies)
Liverpool Gender and Health Framework (health, possibly adaptable for use in other service sectors such as education and policing)

In each case, we provide brief background information; an introduction to the tools and concepts used; comments on the uses and limitations of the framework; and sources of further information.


Gender planning frameworks are:

  • attempts to translate the ideas of academic gender analysis and/or feminism into practical tools and guidelines for development planners and practitioners
  • used to train people who are not gender/women in development specialists about WHY gender is an issue in development, as well as HOW gender is an issue in development, usually in the context of very short courses - one to three days
  • used as a basis for gender policy in many development agencies. Increasingly the frameworks are being used in combination to suit institutional and development needs
  • aiming to equip development planners and practitioners with a common understanding and language to analyse important gender issues in their work
  • quite different. They have different priorities, uses and limitations

Using Gender Planning Frameworks

Gender planning frameworks differ quite markedly in focus. Whilst some concentrate on building an "objective" data base of gender analytical information for planning purposes, others are more concerned with women’s and men’s own subjective priorities and perceptions, and yet others aim to reveal and challenge some of the planning assumptions behind development interventions. Some frameworks focus specifically on women, others on women’s and men’s gender roles, others on gender relations. Some focus wholly on micro-level/household analysis, others also draw attention to gender inequalities within institutions including governments, the private sector and NGOs. Some are explicit in revealing and challenging inequalities between men and women, others focus more on difference, and leave you to draw your own conclusions about inequality.

The frameworks are thus not interchangeable - but aspects of different frameworks can usefully be used in combination. The comparison chart [LINK] gives a simplified comparative overview of the frameworks, and should help in identifying the key concepts used in each framework, and the focus of their attention.

Gender planning frameworks are an aid to highlighting gender relations, and some of the practicalities of gender analysis. They can provide a useful beginning to highlighting the complexity of gender issues in development. In the context of development policy, planning and implementation, it is by no means necessary to have a formal framework to work well or innovatively on gender issues. Frameworks are useful if they help you to think through your own way of planning and doing things. They may not be useful if you find them too restrictive, partial, confusing or bureaucratic.

Frameworks are particularly useful - and probably most used - in the context of gender training to raise awareness of gender issues in development, and begin to develop some skills in analysing and addressing gender issues. Gender planning courses, in particular, are based on one (or more) gender planning framework

However, it is important that gender planning frameworks are used - even in the context of gender training - with care.

  • none of the gender planning frameworks say all there is to say about gender analysis. There is a danger that participants in a training course can learn the details of one framework (most of which are fairly simple to understand and remember), and come away from the course with a false sense of confidence (and relief) that they have "done gender"
  • It is important that frameworks are conveyed in training courses in such a way that they stimulate rather than restrict thinking about gender issues:

it can be useful to look at a number of frameworks in a training course, so that participants can understand that there are different views on key aspects of gender and development, and so that they can think through which approach best suits their own situation. It is possible to present a range of frameworks, and encourage participants to develop their own hybrid framework, selecting aspects of a number of frameworks that suit their needs.

if, for reasons of consistency of approach within a particular development agency or project, it is preferable to teach one framework to all participants, the framework should always be taught using participatory training methods. This enables participants to apply the framework, discuss their findings and discuss their perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of the framework. The framework should not be taught through lecture based methods alone.

Further reading

Comparative studies/tool kits

Kabeer, N (1992) "Triple Roles, Gender Roles, Social Relations: the Political Sub-Text of gender training", IDS Discussion Paper, No.313 - an analytical review of the political subtext of 3 gender planning frameworks - Harvard, DPU/Moser and IDS

March, C (1996) "A Tool Kit: Concepts and Frameworks for Gender Analysis and Planning", Oxfam Gender and Learning Team, pp.73 - a user friendly handbook giving the details of different gender planning frameworks, illustrating them with a case study application, and commenting on some of their strengths and weaknesses

Miller, C. and Razavi, S (1998) "Gender Analysis: Alternative Paradigms", Gender in Development Monograph Series, No.6, UNDP - an analytical review of 3 gender planning frameworks - Harvard, Moser/DPU and IDS - as well as feminist economics

Individual frameworks

See information on individual frameworks

Comparative chart

The following chart summarises the key concepts of each framework. The concepts used in each framework are categorised as follows:

  1. Situation analysis:
  • analysis of roles and resources
  • analysis of gender needs
  1. Setting objectives

Inevitably this chart simplifies the frameworks. It is simply designed to give a snap shot comparative overview.

The Harvard Framework The Moser/DPU Framework The Longwe/Women’s Empowerment Framework
1. Situation analysis/information needs
A. Roles and resources
Activity profile
- who does what, when and where

Access and control profile
- who has access to and control over which:
     - resources
     - project benefits

Analysis of factors affecting the above
Identification of gender roles
- production
- reproduction
- community management
- community politics
B. Gender needs
Questions related to the project cycle Identification of women’s gender needs
- practical gender needs
- strategic gender needs
Identification of women’s gender concerns
- gender gaps
- gender discrimination
- gender subordination

at the following levels
- welfare
- access
- conscientisation
- participation
- control
2. Setting objectives
Questions related to the project cycle Activities to address women’s
- practical gender needs
- strategic gender needs

In the following possible approaches:
- welfare
- equity
- anti poverty
- efficiency
- empowerment

Activities to address women’s gender concerns at the following levels
- welfare
- access
- conscientisation
- participation
- control
with the aim of empowering women and increasing equality between women and men

The IDS/Social Relations Framework Gender Analysis Matrix (GAM) Liverpool Health Framework
1. Situation analysis/information needs
A. Roles and resources
Identification of the social relations of gender
Rules } Household
Resources } Community
People } Markets
Activities } States
Power }
  Patterns of ill health profile
- who gets ill, when and where

Factors affecting who gets ill
Factors affecting responses to illness
- Environment } Household
- Activities } Community
- Bargaining position } States/markets
- Resources } Health services
- gender norms }

The Health System response
- health policy
- health management and decision making
- health care finances
- health care staffing
- health service provision
- health information systems

B. Gender needs
Identification of
- practical gender needs
- strategic gender interests
Participatory planning involving women and men using the following matrix to analyse planned interventions: Identification of possible:
- practical gender approaches
- strategic gender approaches
  Labour Time Resources Culture
2. Setting objectives
Replacing gender blind with gender sensitive interventions. Three possibilities:
- gender neutral
- gender specific
- gender transformative
Participatory monitoring, evaluation and re-design using the GAM matrix to analyse on-going interventions Strategies to promote and sustain gender equitable health services:
- gender policy development
- gender awareness and planning training
- internal and external networks
- advocacy and lobbying
- accessing and marshalling information

Gender equitable health procedures and services:
- health system policy
- health system resources - financial and human
- health service provision
- health information systems

People Oriented Planning Framework Capacities and Vulnerabilities Framework
1. Situation analysis/information needs
A. Roles and resources
Determinants Analysis
- Who are the refugees? What is their context?

Activities Analysis
- Who does what, when and where? (now and before the emergency) - including production of goods, services and protection

Use and Control over Resources Analysis
- Who has access to and control over which tangible resources and intangible resources such as social networks (now and before the emergency)

B. Gender Needs
  Analysis of men and women’s:
- capacities
- vulnerabilities

in the following categories:
- physical or material (land, climate, environment, health, skills, labour, housing, technolgies, water, food supply, capital and other assets)
- social or organisational (formal and informal structres)
- motivation and attitudes 9cultural and psychological factors)

2. Setting Objectives
  Actions to:
- increase/enhance/sustain capacities
- reduce vulnerabilities in a sustainable way

The Harvard Framework


The Harvard Framework (also known as the Overholt Framework and the Gender Roles Framework) was one of the first frameworks designed for gender analysis. It was developed in 1984 by researchers at the Harvard Institute of International Development in the USA working in collaboration with the WID Office of USAID.

The framework is for collecting data at the micro (community and household) level.

Concepts and Tools

The Harvard Framework has four components:

  • activity profile

  • access and control profile

  • analysis of influencing factors

  • project cycle analysis

Activity Profile (ie. who does what, when and where?)

Describes the gender division of labour in productive and reproductive work within the household and community. It suggests disaggregating roles and responsibilities by sex, age, and other factors, as well as recording the amount of time spent on activities and the location of activities.

Access and Control Profile (ie. who has access to and control over what resources, and development project/programme benefits?)

Access - refers to use rights
Control - to power over decision making
Resources - resources of production, household and community based, (land, labour, credit, knowledge etc that women and men can access and command to carry out their activities).
Benefits - in relation to development projects and programmes. Which benefits accrue, or will accrue to men and which to women?

An analysis of access and control in relation to each of the above helps to understand and plan on the basis of understanding men’s and women’s motivation and incentives to become involved in development projects and programmes.

Factors Influencing Activities, Access and Control

This is a listing of factors (such as cultural beliefs, population increase, political change, environmental degradation etc) which impact on gender divisions of labour and access to and control over resources. These factors also give rise to different opportunities and constraints on men's and women's participation in development. The impact of changes over time in the broader cultural and economic environment should be incorporated into this analysis.

Project Cycle Analysis

This is the final component which consists of examining a project proposal or area of intervention in the light of the above gender disaggregated data. It comprises a series of open ended questions to the project planners relating to the women’s dimension in project identification, design, implementation and evaluation.

Women’s dimension in project identification:
Assessing women’s needs

  • What needs/opportunities exist for increasing women’s productivity and/or production?

  • What needs/opportunities exist for increasing women’s access to and control over resources?

  • What needs/opportunities exist for increasing women’s access to/control over benefits?

  • How do these needs and opportunities relate to the country’s other general and sectoral development needs and opportunities?

  • Have women been directly consulted in identifying such needs and opportunities?

Defining general project objectives

  • Are project objectives explicitly related to women’s needs?

  • Do these objectives adequately reflect women’s needs?

  • Have women participated in setting those objectives?

  • Have their been any earlier efforts?

  • How has the present proposal built on earlier activity?

Identifying possible negative effects

  • Might the project reduce women’s access to or control over resources and benefits?

  • Might it adversely affect women’s situation in some other way?

  • What will be the effects on women in the short and longer term?

Women’s dimension in project design
Project impact on women’s activities

  • Which of these activities (production, reproduction and maintenance, socio-political) does the project affect?

  • Is the planned component consistent with the current gender denomination for the activity?

  • If it plans to change women’s performance of that activity (ie. locus of activity, renumerative mode, technology, mode of activity) is this feasible, and what positive or negative effects would it have on women?

  • if it does not change it, is this a missed opportunity for women’s roles in the development process?

  • How can the project design be adjusted to increase the above mentioned positive effects, and reduce or eliminate the negative ones?

Project impact on women’s access and control

  • how will each of the project components affect women’s access to and control over resources and benefits engaged in and stemming from the production of goods and services?

  • how will each of the project components affect women’s access to and control of the resources engaged in and stemming from the reproduction and maintenance of human resources?

  • how will each of the project components affect women’s access to and control over the resources and benefits engaged in and stemming from the socio-political functions?

  • what forces have been set into motion to induce further exploration of constraints and possible improvements?

  • how can the project design be adjusted to increase women’s access to and control over resources and benefits?

Women’s dimension in project implementation

  • are project personnel aware of and sympathetic towards women’s needs?

  • are women used to deliver the goods and services to women beneficiaries?

  • do personnel have the necessary skills to provide any special inputs required by women?

  • what training techniques will be used to develop delivery systems?

  • are there appropriate opportunities for women to participate in project management positions?

Organisational structures

  • does the organisational form enhance women’s access to resources?

  • does the organisation have adequate power to obtain resources needed by women from other organisations?

  • does the organisation have the institutional capacity to support and protect women during the change process?

Operation and logistics

  • are the organisation’s delivery channels accessible to women in terms of personnel, location and timing?

  • do control procedures exist to ensure dependable delivery of the goods and services?

  • are there mechanisms to ensure that the project resources or benefits are not usurped by males?


  • do funding mechanisms exist to ensure programme continuity?

  • are funding levels adequate for proposed tasks?

  • is preferential access to resources by males avoided?

  • is it possible to trace funds for women from allocation to delivery with a fair degree of accuracy?


  • does the project have a management information system which will allow it to detect the effects of the operation on women/

  • does the organisation have enough flexibility to adapt its structures and operations to meet the changing or new found situations of women?

Women’s dimension in project evaluation
Data requirements

  • does the project’s monitoring and evaluation system explicitly measure the project’s effects on women?

  • does it also collect data to update the Activity Analysis and the Women’s Access and Control Analysis?

  • Are women involved in designating the data requirements?

Data collection and analysis

  • are the data collected with sufficient frequency so that necessary project adjustments could be made during the project?

  • are the data fed back to project personnel and beneficiaries in an understandable form and on a timely basis to allow project adjustments?

  • are women involved in the collection and interpretation of data?

  • are data analysed so as to provide guidance to the design of other projects?

  • are key areas of WID/GAD research identified?

Uses and limitations of Harvard Framework

  • micro/community level analysis for project planning - practical, hands on tool
  • establishes detailed data-base of base line information
  • neutral/non-threatening "entry point" into gender analysis - focuses on tangible, objective facts, and on men as well as women, on difference rather than inequality. No overt comment on power dynamics and gender inequality (although this could be drawn out of the information collected)
  • easy to communicate to people who are not gender specialists


  • linked to "efficiency" approach to gender planning - ie. not so much to create more equal gender relations, as to allocate resources for increased project efficiency. Therefore no clear focus on power dynamics and inequalities, or explicit goal of promoting gender equality
  • examination of tangible resources but not intangible resources, such as social networks etc.
  • focus on top-down planning
  • over-simplifying what are usually complex relationships. Focus on categorising roles and access to and control over resources, but roles, access and control likely to be more complex than can be indicated by ticking boxes. Misses aspects of negotiation and bargaining, shared roles, reciprocal relationships, partial access etc.. Misses all the "social relations" of gender

Further reading

Overholt, C. (1985) "Women in Development: A Framework for Project Analysis" in Overholt et al "Gender Roles in Development Projects: A Case Book", Kumarian Press, Connecticut

 The Moser/DPU Method


This framework (also known as the Triple Roles Framework) was developed by Caroline Moser and Caren Levy, in the context of short courses on development planning held at the Development Planning Unit of London University in the 1980s.

Concepts and Tools

The framework consists of three interrelated concepts:

  • gender roles identification - highlighting the "triple role" of women
  • gender needs identification
  • analysis of policy approach

Gender roles

This approach to gender analysis/planning recognises that in most societies low income women have a triple role: women undertake reproductive, productive and community managing activities, while men primarily undertake productive and community politics activities.

Reproductive role: Child bearing/rearing responsibilities, and domestic tasks done by women, required to guarantee the maintenance and reproduction of the labour force. It includes not only biological reproduction but also the care and maintenance of the workforce (male partner and working children) and the future workforce (infants and school going children).

Productive role: Work done by both women and men for pay in cash or kind. It includes both market production with an exchange value, and subsistence/home production with actual use-value, and also potential exchange value. For women in agricultural production this includes work as independent farmers, peasant wives and wage workers.

Community managing role: Activities undertaken primarily by women at the community level, as an extension of their reproductive role, to ensure the provision and maintenance of scarce resources of collective consumption, such as water, health care and education. This is voluntary unpaid work, undertaken in "free" time.

Community politics role: Activities undertaken primarily by men at the community level, organising at the formal political level, often within the framework of national politics. This is usually paid work, either directly or indirectly, through status and power.

Gender needs

Women have particular needs that differ from those of men, not only because of their triple role, but also because of their subordinate position in terms of men. It is useful to distinguish two types:

Practical gender needs (PGN) are the needs women identify in their socially accepted roles in society. PGNs do not challenge, although they arise out of, gender divisions of labour and women’s subordinate position in society. PGNs are a response to immediate perceived necessity, identified within a specific context. They are practical in nature and often concern inadequacies in living conditions such as water provision, health care and employment.

Strategic gender needs (SGN) are the needs women identify because of their subordinate position in society. They vary according to particular contexts, related to gender divisions of labour, power and control, and may include such issues as legal rights, domestic violence, equal wages and womens control over their bodies. Meeting SGNs assists women to achieve greater equality and change existing roles, thereby challenging womens subordinate position.

WID/GAD policy matrix

Policy approaches to low-income third world women have shifted over the past decade, mirroring shifts in macro economic development policies. Five different policy approaches can be identified, each categorised in terms of the roles of women on which it focuses and the practical and strategic needs it meets.

Welfare: earliest approach, 1950-1970. Its purpose is to bring women into development as better mothers. Women are seen as passive beneficiaries of development. It recognises the reproductive role of women and seeks to meet PGNs in that role through top-down hand outs of food aid, measures against malnutrition and family planning. It is non-challenging and therefore still widely popular.

Equity: the original WID approach, used in the 1976-85 UN Women’s Decade. Its purpose is to gain equity for women, who are seen as active participants in development. It recognises the triple role, and seeks to meet SGNs through direct state intervention giving political and economic autonomy, and reducing inequality with men. It challenges women’s subordinate position. It is criticised as western feminism, is considered threatening and is unpopular with governments.

Anti-poverty: The second WID approach, a toned down version of equity, adopted from the 1970s onwards. Its purpose is to ensure that poor women increase their productivity. Women’s poverty is seen as a problem of underdevelopment, not of subordination. It recognises the productive role of women and seeks to meet the PGN to earn an income, particularly in small-scale, income generating projects. It is most popular with NGOs.

Efficiency: The third, now predominant, WID approach, adopted particularly since the 1980s debt crisis. Its purpose is to ensure that development is more efficient and effective through women’s economic contribution, with participation often equated with equity. It seeks to meet PGNs while relying on all three roles and an elastic concept of women’s time. Women are seen entirely in terms of their capacity to compensate for declining social services by extending their working day. Very popular approach.

Empowerment: The most recent approach, articulated by third world women. Its purpose is to empower women through greater self reliance. Women’s subordination is expressed not only because of male oppression but also because of colonial and neo-colonial oppression. It recognises the triple role and seeks to meet SGNs indirectly through bottom up mobilisation of PGNs. It is potentially challenging, although its avoidance of western feminism makes it unpopular except with Third world women’s NGOs.

Uses and limitations


  • highlights and seeks to challenge inequality between men and women

  • highlights all aspects of work - making women’s multiple roles visible

  • highlights and questions assumptions behind project interventions

  • highlights difference between practical and strategic needs and interventions


  • focus on roles not on social relationships, therefore does not address interconnectedness of men’s and women’s lives, or highlight aspects of bargaining and negotiation

  • focus on women - does not highlight other aspects of inequality

  • many people find the distinction between practical and strategic gender needs as a planning tool problematic. Defining and devising measures to address women’s practical gender needs can be a comparatively straightforward matter. Defining and devising measures to address strategic gender needs is a completely different matter:

if asked, women usually identify practical not strategic needs. Defining strategic needs on women’s behalf easily falls prey to patronising attitudes of "we know best" and accusations of "false consciousness" should women fail to recognise needs that have been defined for them

devising measures to meet strategic gender needs is extremely difficult. Strategic gender needs can rarely be addressed in any reliable cause and effect way. Strategic change is a complex and contradictory process not particularly amenable to planning by objective

it can be hard to categorise interventions according to these concepts - is education a practical or strategic intervention

in practice, practical and strategic needs link together. Meeting practical and immediate needs can be an important way into recognising and addressing, in a participatory way, more strategic needs

  • the categorisation of policy approaches is a rationalisation after the event

not all interventions fit this categorisation eg. girl’s education

the categorisation mixes up sector and approach ie. not all interventions focusing on women’s reproductive role are necessarily "welfarist" and "top down" in their approach

the categorisation is now slightly out of date ie. contrary to what is said in this framework, "empowerment" is, at least in theory, now quite widespread as an approach. "Mainstreaming gender equality" the agenda emerging from Beijing is attempting to bring the empowerment agenda to mainstream development and is also increasingly widespread

  • works more effectively as a tool for analysis of interventions rather than for planning

Further reading

Moser, C. and Levy, C. "Training materials developed for training in gender planning for development", 1984-90, DPU

Moser, C. (1993) "Gender Planning and Development: Theory, Practice and Training", Routledge


The Longwe Method/Women’s Empowerment Framework


Sarah Hlupekile Longwe is a consultant on gender and development based in Lusaka, Zambia. This framework was developed through her work with the Ugandan government and with UNICEF in the early 1990s.

Concepts and Tools

This framework helps to think through what women’s empowerment and equality between women and men means in practice, and the extent to which an intervention is supporting women’s empowerment. Longwe defines development as being concerned with enabling people to take charge of their own lives. This framework is explicit that gender equality is not about lack of productivity or resources but about oppression and exploitation.

The Longwe framework focuses on identifying the following:

  • women’s special needs

  • women’s gender concerns (gender gaps, gender discrimination, gender subordination), categorised as follows:

welfare (basic needs)
access (to resources)
conscientisation (what people think and feel)

Women's special needs

The needs women have due to their different sexual and reproductive roles (what Moser calls women’s practical gender needs)

Gender issues/Women’s gender concerns

A gender issue arises when gender roles (arising from the customs and traditions of particular societies, not due to biological difference) involve unequal burdens of work and unequal distribution of resources and this is recognised as undesirable or unjust (what Moser calls women’s strategic gender needs).

  • Gender gaps: These arise where the division into gender roles brings with it inequalities in the amount of work input, or the benefit received

  • Gender discrimination: Gender gaps originate and are maintained in any given society by systems of gender discrimination. Such discrimination against women is pervasive at the level of tradition and social practice. It is also supported by discrimination against women in official and government administrative practice, sometimes arising from discriminatory legislation. Gender discrimination means to give differential treatment to individuals on the grounds of their gender. In a patriarchal society this involves systematic and structural discrimination against women in the distribution of income, access to resources, and participation in decision-making.

  • Gender subordination: Gender discrimination is part of a patriarchal system of oppression, where males retain more power, and use this power to ensure women get most of the work and less of the benefits.

Women’s gender concerns can be categorised according to the following levels, and equally development interventions need to address all five levels of gender inequality.

Welfare is used in the Women's Empowerment Framework to refer to the gender gap between women and men in their material well-being. If a project were confined entirely to this welfare level, this would mean that women would be passive recipients of project benefits, since they would not be involved in the "higher" levels of empowerment which denote more active roles in the development process. Narrowing the gender gap in welfare is the ultimate objective in women's development, to which the process of empowerment must lead.

Access is the means or right to obtain services, products or commodities. Gender gaps in access to resources and services are one type of obstacle to women's development. Women's achievement of equality of access to resources and services is seen as an objective for women's equality; by the same token, women's mobilisation to achieve equality of access is an element in the process of empowerment.

Conscientisation means the process of becoming aware of the extent to which problems arise not so much from an individuals' inadequacies, but rather from the systematic discrimination against a social group which puts all members of the group at a disadvantage. In women's development, conscientisation therefore involves the process by which women collectively analyse and understand the gender discrimination they are up against. This is the basis for action to overcome and dismantle the obstacles which have been holding them back.

Through conscientisation, men and women come to understand the nature of the obstacles they face, and the need to mobilise for collective action. The process of discussion and understanding of common problems is a critical phase, for it enables and motivates men and women to move from being mere beneficiaries to being actors and active participants in their own development. Conscientisation involves the identification of disparities and the analysis of their underlying causes.

Participation is used by the Women's Empowerment Framework to denote having a share and taking part in decision-making. The Framework sees gender equality in decision-making as one of the essential aspects of womens empowerment - and defines participation as being concerned with collective participation in decision making, a process integrated with conscientisation

Control means the ability to direct, or to influence events so that one's own interests are protected. The Women's Empowerment Framework recognises this as the "highest" aspect of women's development - where women ensure that resources and benefits are distributed so that men and women get equal shares. Whereas conscientisation and participation are essential to the process of women's empowerment, it is only gender equality in control which provides the outcome.

Uses and limitations


  • unequivocally about women, about inequality, discrimination and subordination

  • looks in more detail at strategic gender needs, disaggregating different aspects

  • includes psychological/attitudinal aspects of inequality as well as tangible aspects


  • very radical, therefore can be alienating in some contexts and for some groups

  • focus on women and not on relations of gender, therefore ignores connectedness between men’s and women’s lives, and aspects of negotiation and bargaining

  • static view

  • does not look at other forms of inequality - can imply that women are a homogenous group

Further reading

Sara Longwe and Roy Clarke (1994) "Women and Development, Culture and Youth: Workshop Preparatory Readings", Longwe Clarke and Associates, Lusaka, Zambia

The IDS/Social Relations Framework


This approach to planning was developed by Naila Kabeer at the Institute for Development Studies in Sussex in the early 1990s.

Concepts and Tools

This framework takes a socialist feminist approach, focusing on the social relations of gender and the role of institutions in shaping gender relations

It focuses on analysing the social relations of gender:

  • rules
  • people
  • resources
  • activities
  • power

in the following institutional contexts:

  • states
  • markets
  • communities
  • households

Social Relations

  • the way people are positioned in relation to resources and power
  • includes not only gender relations but also relations of class, ethnicity, nationality, religion etc
  • vary across cultures, not fixed or immutable


The underlying causes of gender inequality are not confined to the household and family but are reproduced across a range of institutions, including the international community, the state and the market place.

State: legal, military, administrative, government organisations

Market: firms, corporations, farming enterprises, the private sector

Community: village committees, patron-client relationships, NGOs

Household: households, extended families

Dimensions of Social Relationships (in all institutions)

Rules: how things get done. Official and unofficial rules, values, traditions, laws and customs. Enable and constrain what is done, how, by whom and to whose benefit

People: who is in and who is out.

Resources: what is used and what is produced

Activities: what is done, who does what, Certain tasks are attached to certain social groups

Power: who decides, whose interests are served


Gender neutral policies: Those which intend to leave the gender division of labour and the gender division of resources intact but attempt to target the appropriate actors to achieve certain goals.

Gender specific policies: Again looking at the existing distribution of labour and resources but intending to achieve a gaol which will entail targeting one gender or the other.

Gender redistributive policies: which are about change and transformation, interventions designed to transform existing asymmetries and inequalities.

Needs, Interests and Empowerment

Practical gender needs: ("needs" is what is defined from the top-down - defining and administering to need). Needs define what has to be satisfied

Strategic gender interests: ("interests" is the language of rights. Talk about strategic gender interests in order to remind ourselves as planners and academics to be modest about what we can and cannot do). Interests define the way in which needs are satisfied.

"You can satisfy practical needs in ways which reinforce dependence or you can satisfy them in ways which empower women. How you go about meeting them reveals the extent to which you are treating women as autonomous, competent actors and to what extent you are treating them as passive clients."

Uses and limitations


  • looks at social relations rather than the separation of men’s and women’s roles
  • identifies and addresses inequalities at all levels, not just households and communities, but within states, development organisations and the private sector
  • looks at cross cutting inequalities of class and race
  • links the macro and micro
  • makes an important and useful distinction between practical gender needs and strategic gender interests
  • makes an important distinction between gender blind and gender sensitive development interventions, categorising three types of gender sensitive planning


  • complex, difficult to convey clearly to non social scientists, written up in quite a theoretical way
  • not yet written in accessible format for gender training
  • produces very complex analysis

Further reading

Naila Kabeer, "Gender Planning: Some Key Issues", IDS, University of Sussex

Kabeer, N. and Subrahmanian, R. (1996) "Institutions, relations and Outcomes: Concepts and methods for training in gender aware Planning", available from Oxfam

Gender Analysis Matrix (GAM)


The Gender Analysis Matrix was developed by Rani Parker, whilst she was working for Save the Children Fund in the Middle East, and presented in a manual published in 1993. It was developed for practitioners working at grass roots level and aims to assist in determining the different impacts of development interventions on women and men. It can be used for planning, for making changes during a project and for monitoring and evaluation. GAM analysis is done by community groups of men and women with a facilitator.

Concepts and Tools

GAM is a participatory planning tool for use in discussions with women and men about gender roles and differences, and the possible impact of development interventions on their lives. The GAM is filled in by taking each level and assessing the impact of the project on each category shown, ie what impact will the project have on women’s work/labour? What impact will the project have on women’s time? etc.

  labour time resources culture

Level of analysis - vertical axis

Women - This refers to women of all ages who are in the target group (if the target group includes women) or to all women in the community

Men - This refers to men of all ages who are in the target group (if the target group includes men) or to all men in the community

Household - This refers to all women, men and children residing together, even if they are not part of one nuclear family. Although the type of household may vary even within the same community, people always know what constitutes their household or family. That is the definition or unit of analysis that should be used for this level in the GAM

Community - This refers to everyone within the project area as a whole. The purpose of this level is to extend the analysis beyond the family to society at large. However, communities are complex and usually comprise a number of different groups of people with different interests. So, if a clearly defined "community" is not meaningful in the context of the project, this level of analysis may be eliminated.

NOTE: as needed, the levels of analysis can also include (depending on the project goals and the community in question) age group, class, ethnic groups or other relevant categories

Categories of analysis - horizontal axis

Labour - This refers to changes in tasks (eg. fetching water from the river), level of skills required (skilled versus unskilled, formal education, training), and labour capacity (how many people and how much they can do; do people need to be hired or can members of the household do it?)

Time - This refers to changes in the amount of time it takes to carry out the task associated with the project or activity

Resources - This refers to changes in access to capital (income, land, credit) as a consequence of the project, and the extent of control over changes in resources for each level of analysis

Cultural factors - This refers to changes in social aspects of the participants lives (changes in gender role or status) as a result of the project

Uses and limitations


  • participatory planning at community level
  • simple, systematic, easy to understand
  • involves both men and women in discussions
  • includes roles of men and women as well as relationships
  • includes tangible as well as intangible resources
  • useful for monitoring change over time


  • requires good facilitation
  • difficulty in defining a community
  • danger of false consensus

Further reading

Rani Parker (1993) "Another Point of View: a Manual on Gender Analysis Training for Grassroots Workers", UNIFEM - very user friendly training manual


The Liverpool Gender and Health Guidelines


These guidelines were developed by the Gender and Health Group at the Liverpool School for Tropical Medicine in a series of participatory workshops between 1996 and 1998. The Group - comprising a wide range of health professionals, men as well as women and people with and without existing gender expertise - found that existing gender planning frameworks did not provide health policy makers, researchers or care providers with appropriate guidance. This framework is to address that gap, providing practical guidance to stimulate questioning on gender issues in relation to health at all levels.

Concepts and Tools

The guidelines comprise:

  • a framework for gender analysis
  • - patterns of ill-health profile
    - factors affecting who gets ill
    - factors affecting responses to illness
    - analysis of the health service

  • strategies to address gender inequities

Patterns of ill health profile

This stage involves examining existing sex disaggregated information on morbidity and mortality. Look for gender differences and patterns in:

  • who gets ill
  • what types of illnesses men and women get
  • when men and women get sick
  • where men and women become sick

Factors affecting who gets ill

Factors affecting men and women’s responses to illness

These two stages look behind the data on patterns of ill health, to examine why these gender differences exist, highlighting the important social, cultural and economic factors that affect men’s and women’s health and their responses to ill health.

The following matrices are used to focus detailed consideration of these issues.

Factors affecting who gets ill

  Households Communities States/markets
Bargaining positions      
Gender norms      

Factors affecting men and women’s responses to illness

  Households Communities Available health services
Bargaining positions      
Gender norms      

The health system response

To what extent are gender differences and inequities reinforced and/or recognised and addressed or in the following contexts:

  • health policy
  • health care management and decision making
  • health care financing
  • health care staffing
  • health service provision
  • health information systems

Gender needs

Make a distinction (insofar as this is possible) between:

  • a practical gender approach
  • a strategic gender approach

Strategies to address gender inequities

Gender equitable health procedures and services

Dependent upon nature of implementing agency, nature and scale of the intervention, and on human and financial resources available. Might include, for example:

  • planning systems which ensure men’s and women’s views and needs are taken into account
  • health service provision to increase gender equity
  • sex disaggregated health information systems
  • mainstreaming gender into health policy

Strategies to promote and sustain gender equitable practice

  • Strategies to promote gender sensitivity will vary with context, levels of awareness and appropriate entry points and opportunities. Strategies are likely to include:
  • participatory gender policy development
  • gender training
  • internal and external support and lobbying networks
  • advocacy and lobbying activities
  • accessing and marshalling information

Uses and limitations

This framework is very new, and has yet to widely publicised, distributed or used. However, staff at the Liverpool School for Tropical Health and partner organisations are currently pilot testing it. It is consequently too soon to comment in any detailed way on strengths and limitations in its application.


  • this framework has been developed in a highly participatory way by health researchers and practitioners concerned to increase their understanding of, and address more effectively, issues of gender inequality in health. The process of developing the framework has engendered a high degree of "ownership" as well as detailed and applied consideration of the issues, a process which in itself has been highly beneficial and productive for all involved
  • the framework could be adapted to other service related sectors


  • the process of developing the framework has thrown up interesting discussions on the extent to which simplifying concepts for inclusion in a framework compromises analytical accuracy and complexity. Equally, discussions have focused on the extent to which the framework should be overtly "feminist" in its approach. The resulting framework is inevitably a compromise on these debates. Feedback on use of the framework will provide further reflection on these debates.

Further reading

"Guidelines for the Analysis of Gender and Health", Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, January 1999 - contact the Gender and Health Group, Liverpool School for Tropical Medicine, 38 Pembroke Place, Liverpool, L3 5QA tel 00 44 151 708 9393 for copies of the Guidelines and further information

 People Oriented Planning Framework


The Framework for People Oriented Planning in Refugee Situations (popularly called POP) is a version of the Harvard Framework, adapted for use in refugee situations and to overcome some of the initial weaknesses of the Harvard Framework. It was devised by Mary Anderson and the UNHCR Senior Co-ordinator for Refugee Women following the adoption by the UNHCR of a Policy on Refugee Women.

Concepts and Tools

This framework has three components:

  • Determinants Analysis (also called the Refugee Population Profile and Context Analysis)
  • Activities Analysis
  • Use and Control of Resources Analysis

The following key factors are also emphasised:


When people flee from disaster, their lives change rapidly and dramatically and continue changing. Even in long term refugee settlements where women’s and men’s roles may stabilise, these will be different from those pre-flight, and may be regarded as temporary by the refugees themselves. In some situations, there will be stronger adherence to traditional roles, values and perceptions. In others there are avenues for change that can lead to more balanced relations between men and women


Refugee participation is a major factor determining whether or not a project will succeed. It is important to recognise that this requires the involvement of refugee women, men and children.

Importance of analysis

Whatever type of project is being planned (water, food, health distribution etc) socio-economic and demographic analysis is a critical component of project planning

Determinants Analysis

Factors within refugee groups, and in the receiving country or community, which determine gender roles and responsibilities, and changes in use and control of resources

Who are the refugees?

families, individuals, women, men, children, accompanied or not? - is the overall population profile distorted?

What is their context?

  • community norms and social hierarchy
  • demographic factors
  • institutional structures - government bureaucracies and arrangements of the generation and dissemination of knowledge, technology and skills
  • general economic conditions - poverty levels, income distribution, inflation rates..
  • political events - internal and external
  • legal parameters
  • training and education
  • national attitude towards refugees
  • attitudes of refugees to development/assistance workers

The Activities Analysis

  • Who does what, when and where?
  • This analysis is completed for both the pre-refugee situation and for the current situation. It includes production of goods, services, agriculture, housework, social, political and religious roles - and protection.
  • Protection (legal, social and personal) is a crucial activity to be highlighted, particularly for women and girls, and for orphaned children

The Use and Control of Resources Analysis

  • What resources do people have/what did they bring with them?
  • Who has which resources?
  • What resources must be provided to the refugees?

This includes material resources and invisible resources such as community structures, social networks, cultural ties, time, labour, education..

Uses and limitations


  • practical planning tool in refugee situations
  • simple, step by step
  • includes important aspects of change and protection
  • looks at range of resources, tangible and intangible


  • works best with homogenous groups
  • looking at short term situation and interventions - not focusing on longer term

Further Reading

Anderson, M., Brazeau A. and Overholt, C (1992) "A Framework for People-Oriented Planning in Refugee Situations Taking Account of Women, Men and Children" UNHCR, Geneva 14pp

Anderson A (1994) "A UNHCR Handbook: People Oriented Planning at Work: Using POP to Improve UNHCR Programming", Collaborative for Development Action Inc, Geneva, 45pp. Sector by sector guide for using the framework

Both of these are available from Oxfam Gender and Learning Team, Oxford


Capacities and Vulnerabilities Framework


The Capacities and Vulnerabilities Framework was designed specifically for use in humanitarian contexts and for disaster preparedness. It resulted from a research project (the International Relief and Development project at Harvard University) which examined the lessons of 30 case studies of NGOs responding to disaster situations of different sorts around the world

Concepts and tools

CVA is based on the idea that people’s existing strengths (or capacities) and weaknesses (or vulnerabilities) determine the impact crisis has on them as well as the way they respond to the crisis. The aim of interventions in emergencies should be to increase, in the long term, people’s capacities and reduce their vulnerabilities.


These are the existing strengths in individuals and social groups. They are related to people’s material and physical resources, their skills, their social resources and their beliefs and attitudes


These are the long term factors which weaken the ability of people to cope with sudden onset or drawn out emergencies. They make people more susceptible to disasters. They exist before disasters, contribute to their severity, make effective disaster response harder, and continue after the disaster. The concept of vulnerabilities should be distinguished from needs. Needs are immediate requirements for survival or recovery from crisis and are often addressed by short term practical interventions (such as relief food). A vulnerabilities approach focuses on the long term, and requires more strategic solutions.

The CVA Framework distinguishes three types of capacities and vulnerabilities. These are:

Physical or material

features of the land, climate and environment; their health skills and labour; their access to capital and other assets. What were the ways in which men and women in the community were physically and materially vulnerable? What resources exist? Who has access to and control over these?

Social and organisational

formal political structures, informal systems for getting things done; family and community systems. Divisions on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity or class can weaken the social fabric of a group and increase its vulnerability. What was the social structure of the community before the disaster and how did it serve them in the face of the disaster? What has been the impact of the disaster on social organisation? What is the level and quality of participation in these structures?

Motivation and Attitudes

cultural and psychological factors - may be based on religion, peoples’ history of crises, expectation of emergency relief. Crisis can be the catalyst for extraordinary efforts by communities, but when people feel victimised and dependent, they may become fatalistic and passive, and suffer a decrease in the capacities to cope with the situation and to recover from it. Their vulnerabilities can be increased with inappropriate relief aid, which does not build on their own abilities, develop confidence or provide people with opportunities for change. How do men and women in the community view themselves and their ability to deal effectively with their social/political environment? Do people feel they have the ability to shape their lives? Do men and women think the same? What beliefs and motivation existing before the disaster have changed. This includes gender norms.

Five factors must be included in the analysis to ensure it reflects the complexities of reality:

  • gender disaggregation
  • disaggregation according to other differences
  • change over time
  • interactions - vulnerabilities and capacities relate to each other - changes in one will change the other
  • scale/level - this analysis can be used on a small detailed scale, or a larger more broad brush picture - these levels also interrelate

Uses and limitations


  • specifically designed for disaster situations - but can be used in other contexts as well
  • can be used for planning and for assessing change
  • can be used at different levels - detailed small scale information, or more broad brush picture
  • encourages a long term perspective and focus on sustainability
  • examines social interactions and psychological realm
  • analysing vulnerabilities can prevent a return to "things as normal"


  • possible to exclude gender analysis
  • tempting to guess some of the findings

Further information

Anderson, M. and Woodrow, P.(1989) "Rising from the Ashes: Development Strategies in Times of Disaster", Westview press, and UNESCO - presentation of framework, lessons learned and guidelines. Eleven case studies, none of which have a strong gender perspective.

1999 DFID