Gender Equity in Program Responsiveness

There is now nearly universal acknowledgement of the global feminization of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Organizations worldwide are striving to develop and implement gender responsive programming for HIV prevention, treatment and care. To date, neither standardized definitions of gender responsiveness nor gender sensitive program evaluation methods exist, though nascent models are currently being proposed.

The primary goal was to evaluate all eligible proposals submitted for HIV program funding consideration in terms of gender responsiveness. In order to review the extent to which proposed programming reflected the gender dimensions of the HIV epidemic, it was necessary to develop a gender sensitivity rating scale, as well as an analytic matrix to assess gender responsiveness in programming.

Several avenues of research were pursued to create analytic tools to facilitate the evaluation process. A systematic review of the existing and theoretical range of gender responsive programming was undertaken. Interviews were conducted with several experts in women’s health and social needs. Technical assistance documents were consulted, as was the agency’s list of recommended outcome indicators.

This effort accomplished three goals:

  1. the creation of precise definitions for gender sensitivity scale ratings,
  2. the development of a matrix that explicitly provided examples of gender responsive programming within each of nine standardized categories of HIV programming (e.g., prevention, treatment and care), and
  3. explicit linkages were made between specific gender responsive programs and relevant outcome indicators, most of which were on the agency’s recommended priority list.

The tools developed were used to evaluate gender responsiveness in the portfolio of proposals submitted for consideration for HIV program funding. The tools also provide baseline materials to disseminate to the larger community. These materials are anticipated to generate debate and to inform technical assistance, standardization and evaluation efforts worldwide.