Open Letter to the High Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment

The Gender and Development Network has written an open letter to the Co-Chairs of the High Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment, calling for a greater focus on 'enabling macro-economic environments' as means to further the report's current crucial insights. 

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GADN is recruiting a Trustee

The Gender and Development Network (GADN) is recruiting for a Trustee to join our Board. This is a fantastic opportunity for someone to be involved in the governance and future direction of our dynamic network. We are particularly interested in finding a new Board member who is based within an international non-governmental organisation and/or who has knowledge and current experience of promoting gender equality and women's and girls' rights.

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GADN releases Feminist Development Alternatives Pack

The Gender & Development Network (GADN) is pleased to release a series of papers as part of its Feminist Alternatives Project.

This project has evolved over a number of years and has encompassed an international online discussion and many internal debates and papers amongst GADN members, their southern partners and other allies. It became clear that a single paper, peppered with caveats, was not the way forward so we decided to produce a collection of papers allowing the project to encompass diverse perspectives.

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Bringing a women’s rights perspective to the table: Notes from a roundtable with the UK Secretary of State for International Development, women’s rights organisations and NGOs

GADN recently convened a group of women's rights organisations and NGOs working on macroeconomics and gender equality to meet with the Secretary of State for International Development to present proposals on the work of the High Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment.

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New GADN briefing - Breaking down the barriers: Macroeconomic policies that promote women’s economic equality

This new GADN briefing argues that the achievement of women’s economic equality and empowerment (WEE) is pivotal to the advancement of gender equality and women’s rights, yet it has received inadequate attention to date. The ground-breaking Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) called for the promotion of “women's economic rights and independence, including access to employment, appropriate working conditions and control over economic resources.”1 In the subsequent two decades, however, most gender equality work shied away from the economic sphere. When WEE has been discussed, too often it is in relation to generating economic growth rather than gender equality and the fulfilment of women’s rights.

You can download the briefing here.

New GADN briefing: Making the case for macroeconomics in gender equality work

Around the world, the way women live and work is shaped by economic policies that dictate the kinds of employment, resources, benefits and decision-making power available to them. That said, we have yet to achieve an economic system that serves women’s needs, recognises their contributions and facilitates their empowerment in every aspect of life.

This new briefing, produced as part of our Gender Equality and Macroeconomics (GEM) project, argues that true empowerment begins with tackling the structural barriers that women face, and that this means turning our attention to macroeconomics and its impact on gender equality and women’s rights.

For more details on the GEM project click here.

GADN and WaterAid release new briefing on gender equality and WASH

GADN has partnered with WaterAid to produce a new briefing, Achieving gender equality through WASH.

This briefing shows that equitable and universal access cannot be achieved without specific gender equality measures in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) policy and programming to ensure that the rights of girls and women to water and sanitation are met.

The aim of the briefing is to set out the multiple links between gender equality and WASH to encourage dialogue, mutual understanding and consensus between gender equality and WASH policymakers and practitioners. Ideally a more detailed examination of the linkages through new research and innovative programme development will be carried out as a result.

You can read the full briefing here.

GADN joins 100+ women’s organisations to express concern over FLOW programme funding decisions

The Gender and Development Network is one of over 100 women’s organisations from around the world to express concern over recent funding decisions of the FLOW programme, provided by the Dutch government.

The FLOW fund is the only remaining large global fund which focuses on women’s rights – a field which tends to be greatly under-resourced.  While previous funding schemes have proven essential in empowering the women’s movement, many organisations are concerned about the decisions made in the most recent round of funding.

Only nine organisations were allocated funding, out of 100 that passed the eligibility test, and the minimum application amount was increased to 5€ million. The application form and criteria were much more challenging than other funding programmes of the Dutch Foreign Ministry, and the organisations which did receive funding are mainly Dutch or Anglophone, and from the Global North.

The signatories of the letter, including GADN, call on the Dutch Foreign Ministry to:

1. Improve and adjust the decision for FLOW 2016-2020

2. Ensure a bridging fund for FLOW I organisations

3. Learn from the problems of the application process to create criteria, structures, and processes that empower - not disempower - women’s rights organisations, with the aim of ensuring that all donors can use these lessons and criteria to really put women at the centre of the implementation of the SDGs, particularly SDG5.

You can read the letter in full here.

GADN Director gives evidence for SDGs inquiry

The Gender and Development Network was recently invited to give evidence to the International Development Committee inquiry on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Jessica Woodroffe, our Director, highlighted that gender is a cross-cutting issue throughout the SDGs, and that promoting gender equality can drive the achievement of each of the SDGs.

When asked how to ensure that the SDGs are implemented, Jessica suggested that DfID should address the underlying causes of gender inequality. Highlighting the importance of women’s economic empowerment, she advocated a greater focus on unpaid care, saying that the unpaid care target in the SDGs is one of the most potentially transformative of the whole document. Jessica also underlined the importance of addressing social norms and how assumptions about the roles of women and men threaten the achievement of the SDGs – and must be tackled at their root.

How should these changes happen? One key way of achieving change is a ‘women’s fund’ – a fund specifically for women’s organisations.  Women’s organisations are some of the most transformative and cost-efficient ways of reaching the most marginalised people – and small amounts of funding can make a huge difference when targeted directly to women’s organisations.

More information, including past evidence sessions, on the International Development Committee’s inquiry into the SDGs can be found here.  A video recording of the 1 December session, where Jessica gave evidence, can be viewed here, or you can read a transcript of the session here.

You can also listen to the recording of the session via the audio file below (from 15:10):

Jessica Woodroffe, GADN Director, gives evidence to the International Development Committee . Photograph: Parliamentary Copyright

GADN is recruiting a Research and Communications Volunteer

The Gender and Development Network is currently advertising for a Communications and Research volunteer to support our secretariat. The role is suitable for someone with a passion for international development and women’s rights with an interest in communications and research. The role is for one or two days a week for 6-9 months.

Download the role description here.

How to apply

Please send a CV and covering letter outlining your relevant experience to: with ‘GADN volunteer’ in the subject line. The closing date for applications is 10am, Monday 2nd November. 

Please note we plan to hold interviews on Wednesday 11th November 2015.


GADN is recruiting a Consultant for Private Sector Partnerships and Delivering on Combating VAWG

The Gender and Development Network’s (GADN) Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Working Group invites individual researchers and research consultants to support the delivery of a discrete research project to explore the relationship between DFID’s private sector approach and implementation of relevant VAWG commitments.

Deadline for applications: 5pm Wednesday 28th October 2015

Interviews: 10 & 11 November 2015

Duration of Contract: 18 November – 31 January 2016

Terms of reference available here.

“Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” A reflection from the Gender and Development Network

“Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”

A reflection from the Gender and Development Network

25th September 2015

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are of course not everything we wanted; they are after all the outcome of tortured negotiations among nearly two hundred governments many of whom have highly dubious views towards gender equality and human rights.  That said, the document just agreed by the UN General Assembly this month is certainly an improvement on the previous Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and a lot better than many of us feared.  Glimmers of concern about inequality – or at least a desire to ‘leave no one behind’ - suggest some progress in the last fifteen years.  Specifically on gender equality, while the language is not as strong as that agreed twenty years ago at the landmark Beijing conference on women’s rights, there are definite improvements since the MDGs. Given the current context of widespread attacks on women’s rights globally this can be seen as an achievement. While the agreement of this document changes nothing today, it does provide us with some valuable rhetoric with which to hold governments to account tomorrow, and in the decades to come.

The goals and targets

At one point it seemed a very real possibility that there might be no standalone goal on gender equality, with women’s rights subsumed within a basket of disadvantages.  The experience of MDG 3 on gender equality had demonstrated the resources and political leverage that a gender goal could bring and we argued hard that any dilution of this explicit commitment would be seen as a major step backwards.  It is therefore with relief that we see the fifth agreed SDG is: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

We also called for a broadening of the topics covered under such a goal.  Violence against women and girls had been recognised as a major omission in the MDGs and it was clear early on that this would be included as a target in the SDGs.  Political participation is now more broadly defined and language on reproductive rights, constantly under attack, was protected.  Sexual rights are still missing though, and the struggle for LGBTQ rights has a long way to go. But the real surprise – and perhaps one of the biggest successes for us – was the inclusion of a target on unpaid care. While the wording of the target is not perfect, its inclusion marks a major step forward in recognition of the issue as a major barrier to achieving gender equality.  We remain concerned though as to why SDG 5 has no time limit when most other targets start with ‘by 2030’.

In addition to a standalone goal, GADN also called for gender mainstreaming across the framework. There are a few specific mentions of issues important to gender equality in other targets: equal pay for work of equal value appears in target 8.5, equal access to education in 4.5, the particular needs of women and girls in relation to hygiene and sanitation in 6.3. But overall the mainstreaming of gender equality is not well developed and there is little recognition of the specific barriers that women and girls face in meeting targets, such as the role of unpaid care or occupational segregation in restricting employment opportunities.

During the negotiations there was much talk of ‘transformative’ targets, but it remains to be seen whether the structural barriers preventing progress in each of the target areas will really be addressed. 

A crucial test will be how the indicators for each target (due to be agreed next March) are developed, and whether they cover the structural barriers where change is most needed.  The experience of the MDGs shows that governments put their time and money into trying to achieve these measured indicators of success, not into matching the rhetoric of the goals and targets. Furthermore, for the indicators to be effective their measurement will also need to be properly resourced, with sufficient aggregation of data and use of qualitative as well as quantitative measures, and substantial capacity building in implementation.  

Framing the Agenda

The rhetoric included in the preamble and opening paragraphs of the document is also important.  At a time when women’s rights are under attack around the globe an internationally agreed statement has important symbolic value.

Many women’s rights activists opposed the use in the preamble of five pillars of sustainable development (people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership) both because it distracted from a human rights approach and made no specific mention of gender equality.

These pillars remain, but both in the preamble and in the subsequent paragraphs of the Declaration there is some useful language which can be used to hold governments to account. There is commitment to promoting gender equality and women's and girls’ empowerment, and even recognition that half of humanity is denied its full human rights.

Preamble: “They [the goals] seek to realize the human rights of all and to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”

Para 3: “We resolve.. to protect human rights and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls

Para 8: “We envisage… a world in which every woman and girl enjoys full gender equality and all legal, social and economic barriers to their empowerment have been removed.”

Para 20. “Realizing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will make a crucial contribution to progress across all the Goals and targets. The achievement of full human potential and of sustainable development is not possible if one half of humanity continues to be denied its full human rights and opportunities. Women and girls must enjoy equal access to quality education, economic resources and political participation as well as equal opportunities with men and boys for employment, leadership and decision-making at all levels. We will work for a significant increase in investments to close the gender gap and strengthen support for institutions in relation to gender equality and the empowerment of women at the global, regional and national levels. All forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls will be eliminated, including through the engagement of men and boys. The systematic mainstreaming of a gender perspective in the implementation of the Agenda is crucial.” (The full text can be viewed here )

Future challenges

Clearly the challenge now lies in implementation. GADN has written elsewhere of our disappointment with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and we are concerned about the link between this and the implementation of the SDGs.  In general funds for gender equality work have always been grossly inadequate and significantly more funds will be needed to meet the new ambitions laid out in the Declaration.  Moreover the type of funds and way they are given are vital.  A significant danger within the SDGs is the increasing role assigned to the private sector both in global decision making, and in the delivery of funds.  Such private financing is frequently inadequate and inappropriate for the achievement of gender equality and women’s rights.  Moreover the focus on corporates turns attention from the responsibility of states to take positive measures to ensure gender equality. 

Jessica Woodroffe                                                                                                                         

This document is produced by the GADN Secretariat and does not necessarily represent the views of all GADN Members

Gender and Development Network





Research Officer at the Gender and Development Network

The Gender and Development Network (GADN) is looking for a highly motivated and organised person to join our team in the role of Research Officer. We are the UK’s leading network on gender and development issues with over 100 members and an excellent track record of influencing government and supporting our members in their work to achieve gender equality and women’s rights internationally.

The Research Officer will lead our work on a new project on macro-economics and gender equality, as well as supporting the Secretariat in other areas of policy. This new post is two days a week.

Please see job description and application form. The deadline for applications is 10:00 on Monday September 14th, 2015.  For more information contact (however please note that this email will only be checked intermittently until September 6th). Interviews will be held on September 23rd at the ActionAid offices.

Trustee vacancy at the Gender and Development Network

July 2015  

The Gender and Development Network (GADN) brings together over fifty expert NGOs, as well as consultants, academics and individuals committed to working on women’s and girls’ rights, gender, equality and international development. Our vision is of a world where social justice and gender equality prevail and where all women and girls are able to realise their rights free from discrimination. Our goal is to ensure that international development policy and practice promotes gender equality and women's and girls’ rights. Our role is to support our members by sharing information and expertise, to undertake and disseminate research, and to provide expert advice and comment on government policies and projects.

At this critical time for the international development sector, as the post-2015 framework is negotiated and we review progress made since the Beijing Platform for Action, GADN is recruiting for a new member of its Board of Trustees.  This is a fantastic opportunity for someone to be involved in the governance and future direction of our dynamic network. .  We are particularly interested in finding a new Board member with knowledge and current experience of organisational development and/or management within an international non-governmental organisation.

Download the application pack here.

How to apply

Please send a CV and covering letter outlining your relevant experience to: the GADN Coordinator (, with ‘GADN Trustee’ in the subject line. Any enquiries regarding the vacancy should be addressed to or

The closing date for applications is 9am, Monday 7th September. 

Interviews will be held in London on Tuesday 15th September or Wednesday 16th September in the afternoon.

The successful candidate will be asked to participate in the October Board meeting on 6th or 14th October.

Please note that in order to contain administration costs, only those applicants shortlisted for interview will be contacted. 

For further information please visit our website at

GADN is recruiting a consultant to work on feminist alternatives to current paradigms

The UK Gender and Development Network (GADN) is looking for a consultant to help the network further develop our understanding of feminist alternatives to current development paradigms.  We want to ensure that our short-term policy proposals are rooted in the longer term structural changes needed for gender equality, particularly as identified by marginalised women themselves.

The consultant will need to combine experience of working on gender and development, including with southern women’s rights organisations, with an understanding of the way GADN’s members work and how change happens within INGOs.  They will have to be UK based and available to attend meetings in London with network members.

Download the terms of reference here.  Application deadline is Wednesday 9th September, 2015.  Interviews will take place on September 16th by phone. For information about GADN visit

GADN is recruiting a new Coordinator

The Gender and Development Network (GADN) is looking for a highly motivated and organised person to join our team in the role of Coordinator. We are the UK’s leading network on gender and development issues with over 100 members and an excellent track record of influencing government and supporting our members in their work to achieve gender equality and women’s rights internationally.

The Coordinator acts as the hub of the network, coordinating and supporting the various activities of our Board, Advisory Group, Working Groups, our members, manages the financial and administrative systems and contributes to our external communications.

For more information download the job description. To apply, please download and complete the application form and return it to Francesca Rhodes - by 10am, Tuesday 26th May.  Please also contact Francesca with any questions about the role. Interviews will be held on Monday, 8th June.