Gender: What It Isn’t, and What It Doesn’t Do

Gender analysis does not explain everything. “There’s no such thing as a generic woman,” points out one grantmaker. Social position is not only about gender. Class, race or ethnicity — and sometimes sexual orientation, religious affiliation, caste, and clan — matter, too. Grantmakers who use gender analysis also tend to weigh other features of social position and need. For example, it’s hard to think productively about AIDS prevention for women in a generic way. The situations and needs of middle-class women in an affluent, Western country are different from those of poor women in the same country — and even further removed from those of poor women in a developing country. It’s thinking about gender as one element of a social situation that can inspire new responses. As one grantmaker explained, “A gender lens strengthens what I learn from looking at the people we’re trying to serve in terms of class, race, or sexual orientation.”

Gender analysis doesn’t apply only to women and should also involve assessing the needs of boys and men. “We want to support programs that offer the chance of equitable outcomes for women and girls and for men and boys,” said one. As a grantmaker who works in the health area explained, there’s “decent access” to health care for girls in many communities but very little access for boys.

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Grantmaking with a Gender Lens.