Gender Marker Implementation
1. Country Context
Ethiopia has had a long history of natural and manmade emergencies and humanitarian crisis.
The country still remains extremely vulnerable to external shocks and natural disasters and the
related hazards, including drought, disease and floods. Persistent drought and food insecurity
particularly continue to fuel humanitarian and emergency crisis, affecting on average 7.5Million
people each year for the last ten years. This is further impacted by both internal and external
tensions and conflicts.
National humanitarian needs are projected and outlined in the Humanitarian Requirement
Document(HRD), which is developed bi-annually led by the Government and supported by
various Humanitarian stakeholders, particularly the UN and INGO’s. The HRD projects both fod
and non food related needs.
The Humanitarian Response Fund (HRF), a pooled fund mechanism is a major rapid response
tool that responds to non food emergency needs. In 2009, the HRF fund disbursed slightly
above USD 39,000,000 and in 2010; the fund has disbursed close to USD 26,000,000 to date. It
was established in 2006 with the aim of promoting a more harmonized and coordinated
approach to emergency and humanitarian funding.
The Gencap Advisor has been closely working with the HRF team since the commencement of
the deployment in April 2009, to enhance the integration of gender in the pooled fund
mechanism as a key step in institutionalizing gender integration in emergency planning and
responses. The templates and guidelines were reviewed to incorporate gender aspects and a
gender checklist embedded as a critical guide in 2009.
Consistently and over the past 18 months, the Advisor has worked closely, at the technical level
with the HRF team in supporting clusters, applicants and the HRF board to review their
proposed actions in line with the gender review and the application of the gender marker. The
NFI/emergency shelter/CCM, WASH, education, protection clusters and the GBV sub cluster
have been targeted and supported throughout this period of reporting.
2. Gender Marker Implementation
Approach and Entry Points
In July 2009 –November 2009, in collaboration with the CARE international, the
Protection cluster and the UN Gender Technical Working Group, the HRF guidelines and
templates were engendered. This was a process already envisioned by the HRF team
as a recommendation from a HRF/donor’s workshop in 2009. This was a critical and
strategic entry point, not only for the Gender marker (which had not been introduced
then) but also for the work of the Gencap Advisor, as it emphasized the importance of a
gender analysis in the needs assessment and the problem identification as well as an
embedded gender checklist (adapted from the IASC and CARE gender handbooks)
which guides the project cycle. The resultant output, was that gender was profiled as an
important aspect in good humanitarian programming.
In January 2010, the engendered templates were adopted and applicants were required
to use them in applying for HRF funds. This was an important preamble for the gender
marker, as now the gender marker could be introduced as another complementary
process whose roots were grounded in the overall mainstreaming process, a process
that aims at enhancing accountability and as a self assessment tool that assesses the
effectiveness of the proposed project in delivering for men, women, boys and girls. A
brief uptake period for the newly reviewed HRF guidelines and formats, before the
official introduction of the gender marker, was very instrumental as it ensured that the
changes in the template were disseminated fully and used thus creating a softer ground
for the gender marker introduction.
In April 2010, the gender marker was introduced formally in a workshop attended by
Donors, (Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, ECHO and DFID), cluster leads, UN
agencies, INGO’s (more than 15 key actors) and Government of Ethiopia
representatives. The Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) gave a key note speech that
emphasized the importance of practical and innovative initiatives that translate gender
commitments into action in humanitarian actions. The UNFPA representative and
UNOCHA Head of Office in their speeches too also reiterated the importance of
ensuring that humanitarian aid reaches women, men, boys and girls through proper
identification of their needs and planning for them in the responses. This official
introduction was key in situating the gender marker in a wider UN humanitarian
programming and delivery as opposed to being a “Gencap project delivery”.
From May 2010- Capacity building session targeting individual clusters in one day or half
day sessions have been carried out. These have been instrumental since they are
practical and use examples from within the cluster portfolio or ongoing projects.
Supporting the peer review mechanism to vet the HRF applications as well as individual
applicants to apply the marker.
Step-by-Step Actions Taken to Support Country Roll Out
Action Reason / Comment Value of Action
(if not self evident) Essential Useful Minimal
Step 1: Engendering the Critical and strategic entry Very
HRF formats and point which was planned essential
guidelines in July to before the introduction of
November 2009 the gender marker, but
proved pivotal in the
Step 2: Gender marker Official launch that was Very
introductory workshop in instrumental in the essential
April 2010 formulation of an action
plan by the stakeholders
present, which has been a
reference in the
Step 3: Awareness Aimed as a constant Very
sessions to clusters during reminder on what the Useful as it
planned cluster meetings marker is and its benefits generates
or planning sessions- in humanitarian interest
ongoing since April 2010 programming. and most
as a follow
Step 4: 1 or ½ day training -During the half day Very
sessions for individual sessions, a presentation essential
clusters – on going since is made, relevant
April 2010 materials shared and the
clusters review previous
applications from their
members, code them and
suggest actions that could
have been incorporated to
make them more gender
-During full day trainings,
the IASC ACT and
ADAPT is discussed and
the cluster gender
in addition to the gender
The two processes then
are interlinked and viewed
as complimentary, with
the gender marker
accountability to gender
Step 5: Technical support This reinforces the Very
to the clusters and principle that it is not essential
individual applicants in simply getting a good
applying the marker and code but incorporation of
redesigning the practical actions and re-
applications – ongoing designing the application
since April 2010 based on the GM
Step 6: Regional roll out of (Yet to be implemented)
the gender marker through
forums (next step)
What would you repeat and why?
In principle, all the steps were and are very relevant as it presents a logical flow and
also enhances the stakeholders perception of the gender marker, as not being a
standalone tool, but as an easy to use tool that enhances being practical in gender
mainstreaming and an easy accountability mechanism for clusters who may not have a
lot of gender knowledge.
In Ethiopia, engendering the HRF guidelines and formats was very critical and
provided a softer landing for the gender marker introduction. The Gencap Advisor was
able to situate the gender marker within a wider framework of good programming which
probably has supported faster adoption of the tool. Ideally, this is considered as the most
critical step in Ethiopia’s experience.
Consistency and availability in supporting the clusters, the HRF board and the HRF
team, including individual HRF applicants whenever support was requested also created
an enabling environment for the marker’s use. Ethiopia’s deployment was long and this
enabled more consistent support to the clusters.
Training and building capacity of the clusters individually on gender equality
programming alongside the introduction of the gender marker is instrumental in ensuring
the tool is meaningful and relevant for the clusters as the training is tailored towards the
cluster operations and responsibilities. This also ensures that the marker is perceived
within the wider framework of gender equality and not as a standalone tool that would
otherwise be filled cosmetically.
Training members of the Protection cluster and gender networks(the latter is
planned), who in most cases are gender, GBV and protection specialists is aimed at
creating a critical mass of personnel that will support other clusters in implementing the
gender marker. In the long run, this is envisioned as a step that will create ownership
and sustainability of the tool and the efforts to integrate gender in the cluster
What would you change and how?
There has been limited experience sharing with the rest of the countries piloting the
marker. This would be especially important when there are challenges, or the need to
adjust the tool, or introduction methodology then lessons can be shared widely.
The global clusters involvement in advocacy for the gender marker would be
instrumental especially in dealing in breaking the ice with clusters that are
“unapproachable” at country level.
External Constraints (that are specific to the context/country
In Ethiopia, there is dual leadership of the clusters/sectors by the Government and the
UN (and/or other humanitarian partners), and therefore the marker too should ideally be
introduced to all members and be linked to the Governments strategic outlook that is
now focusing on disaster risk reduction and management. However, the marker was
envisioned as a tool to be used by humanitarian partners funded under the CAP and the
pooled fund mechanisms.
In Ethiopia, Local NGO’s are not direct beneficiaries of the HRF and thus may not be
targeted by default especially during the capacity building and awareness sessions.
However, INGO’s partner with the local NGO’s and in some instances the LNGO’s are
the implementing partner, therefore necessitating their knowledge of the marker.
Cascading the gender marker introductions and trainings to regional levels will partially
address this gap or lobbying with other gender specialists within the NGO’s to target
their partners too, as part of enhancing delivery and good implementation of
Internal Constraints (related to GMs, the material, the remote support available)
As a result of tight schedules and responsibilities, the Gencap Advisor may not be
always available to support the clusters, since still the cluster coordinators have not fully
usurped the role of ensuring the marker is used effectively in the clusters.
The cluster guidance note is bulky and refers more heavily to the CAP and minimally to
the pooled fund mechanisms (although there is an explanation), clusters may not feel
obligated to use the guidance in non- CAP settings.
There is firm commitment by the HC, UNCT, UNFPA and UNOCHA to enhancing the
integration of gender in humanitarian action has created an enabling environment for the
Gencap’s work. As a result of the realization that gender integration and mainstreaming
is a process that requires time and resources, the HC and UNFPA requested for a
longer term deployment to build up on the gender marker initiatives as well as other
capacity building efforts.
The 2009 HRF guidelines and templates gender review was very instrumental, in fact
one of the most instrumental enablers to the introduction of the gender marker. It was
perceived as a first step and it has borne fruit, as gender was profiled as an important
dimension in the design of emergency responses funded under the HRF.
The 2009 UNCT commissioned gender audit amongst several UN agencies, raised
awareness on gender gaps and lessons within the UN agencies.
2009 UNDAF midterm review highlighted weaknesses in gender integration across
board thus raising more awareness on gender.
Presence of a Gencap advisor, before the introduction of the gender marker was
catalytic and paved way as her role was well understood by the clusters and also the
Advisor had navigated and identified allies and useful networks that were necessary in
the marker introduction.
A gender marker template developed by the HRF team and Gencap Advisor, that
should be filled by the applicants and the reviewers has supported in redesigning the
proposals to accommodate any recommendations from the review process.
The Ethiopia HRF is a continuous process throughout the year and thus unlike the CAP
process, where all proposals are submitted within a specific time frame, applications are
being processed continuously thus requiring an “ear on the ground” always inorder to
support the different clusters efficiently. This gives the GA time also to support in the
review, as the number of proposals differ from month to month.
Gender Marker Toolkit
General Appreciation of the tools:
The tools are practical and user friendly as opposed to expectations of most technical personnel
who already have a misconceived perception of gender. The marker is revolutionary in that it
“eases” the gender debate and brings it down to doable and practical actions, which non gender
experts would under other circumstances not identify with in terms of programming. Additionally,
the tool focuses on three critical areas of analysis thereby encouraging a gender analysis by the
cluster/applicant or review team.
The resultant discussions and deliberations while assigning the marker code have been very
instrumental in enhancing the design of the projects, including institutionalizing of gender in the
applicant organization. For example, as a result of engendering the HRF formats and the
implementation of the gender marker, some HRF applicants have incorporated a gender
specialist budget within the implementation of the project to focus on building the organization’s
capacity on gender and to enhance a gender responsive implementation for the project and
other future or ongoing projects.
An unintentional and positive impact has been an interest by some organizations; especially
INGO’s in using the gender marker internally to vet other Non-HRF projects. No reports
however have been shared as of date, but it is evident that the tool offers a fast and practical
way of enhancing accountability to gender equality, particularly in emergency projects which are
in most cases short lived and geared towards saving lives.
Currently, there have been requests to those applying the gender marker for comments, lessons
learnt and challenges on the use in order to contribute to the review of the tools. The following
are some of the issues raised:
1. The “how to code tip sheet”, some gender specialists and protection cluster members
viewed this guidance tool as being over-simplified and subjective as it only focuses on
the code (which is either the presence or absence of a tick) in the three critical entry
points and may lead to quickly assigning a code without due consideration of all the
facts. This may be a valid point, however, in Ethiopia, a gender marker template was
developed in May 2010 and has been in use, it seeks to documents the dialogue during
the review process with a column detailing why the marker code was assigned and
another column detailing some recommendations for improvement, which the applicant
should incorporate before the application is tabled before the review board. The vision is
to review/merge these two tools (the how tip code sheet and the Ethiopia marker
template that is filled by applicants/clusters) and get the best fit that will be serving the
intended purpose of improving the quality of emergency programming vis a vis gender.
2. Secondly, some users have perceived the marker scale (0,1,2a,2b) to be very limiting
particularly at the peer review processes and one of the most common suggestion
brought forth by a few of stakeholders is to expand the code to (0, -1,+1,-2a,+2a, 2b) to
enhance the room for improvement, for example; a project could be an almost 2a, but
needing some level of adjustments to measure up as a 2a, therefore the
recommendation is to assign a lower level of 2a(-2a) and feedback to the project
developer on proposed recommendations. This has been perceived as a way of giving
more room to the applicants for improvement.
3. There has been encouragement from the HRF team to applicants to engage in self
assessment and fill the gender maker template as the design the project and share this
with the review mechanism. There is an indication that these projects which have gone
through this process, of self assessments at the level of the design and before the peer
review, have to some extent addressed more gender issues and more commitment to
enhancing gender mainstreaming within the proposed initiative. This may not be
conclusive within this pilot period, but should be encouraged to draw more factual
4. In tandem to the gender marker process too, is the fact that the HRF application
template is engendered and also includes an embedded gender checklist. This has led
to a significant improvement of the quality of proposals vis a vis gender as compared to
2009 and beforehand. The review process therefore doesn’t only focus on applying the
gender marker, but also on how well gender dimensions are reflected in the application;
at the needs identification and also how these identified gender issues would be
addressed in activities and outcomes. Thus, in addition to the peer review process, in
some instances the review board involves the Gencap Advisor and the Protection cluster
in the technical review of applications. The technical reviews are however inconsistent
and should be encouraged to enhance integration of gender holistically and across
board. At the end of the various review processes, the final gender marker code
improves from the initially assigned code during the applicant’s self assessment, as
improvements to the design are encouraged and recommended from both the peer
review process by the cluster and further reviews as recommended by the board.
However, a weakness that may manifest on the code’s analysis is that once the
applicant organizations improve the application with respect to gender, sometimes the
code is not adjusted to reflect these changes.
Comment on cluster activities: (variances in reception/response to the marker; clusters
requesting most/least support; any cluster-specific insights).
Cluster Commitment to Acceptance of Needs (training, General
gender the GM support, etc.) comments
Nutrition Moderate Expressed a lot Needs training Cluster reviews
of interest and more have included the
support gender marker.
Health Moderate No contact yet Needs training
NFI/emergency High High The cluster has
shelter/CCM Acceptance adopted the
and tools fully.
WASH Moderate to high Shows interest Various
been carried out
and their tools
the uptake has
Education High High acceptance One day training
on the gender
marker carried out
and consistent on
Protection High High ½ day training
Acceptance carried out and
Food distribution No individual No contact yet
Agriculture No individual No contact yet
Early warning Not active Not active Not active Not active
HC/HCT Leadership & Engagement
(Who were the champions/allies/facilitators of the gender marker process? Identify gaps in
championing and/or facilitating.)
Interlocutor Commitment to Acceptance of Needs (training, General
gender the GM support, etc.) comments
HC High High
UNCT High High The Senior
OCHA management High High management
HRF management High High has been very
and team instrumental in
UNFPA High High the introduction
management of the gender
IOM(NFI/emergency High High marker through
shelter/CCM cluster creating an
Donors were invited by UNOCHA to the gender marker introduction on the 7th of April.
Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, ECHO and DFID were present.(These are also some of
the main donors to the Ethiopian HRF)
The 2009 HRF annual report (currently being published) compliments the Gencap project on
the support, underscores the importance of engendering the HRF formats and the
introduction of the gender marker as an accountability tool and annexes the gender marker
template. As this report will be disseminated widely, including to the donors, there is hope
that it will generate interests amongst the donors on the positive steps towards enhancing
integration of gender in emergency responses.
In July 2010, a DFID commissioned external HRF review lauded the “strenuous efforts” to
promote gender sensitivity by adhering to the guidelines set out in the IASC gender marker,
that had led to the improvement of the design and delivery of HRF programmes.
Results – The Gender Analysis of the HRF guidelines and application template.
Strategic Priorities include gender equality yes
Selection Criteria include gender equality yes
Narrative features gender analysis/issues yes
The HRF templates (overall guidelines, application template, progress and final reporting
templates, budgets) have been engendered and thus encourage a gender analysis right
from the problem identification to monitoring and evaluation. A gender checklist, adopted
from the IASC and CARE gender handbooks is embedded as a guide throughout the project
cycle in the HRF guidelines. This implicitly underscore the importance of adhering to gender
mainstreaming as a strong criteria for a project attracting funding, although applications with
weak gender integration are funded but with strong recommendations on how to mainstream
The gender marker template is being reinforced as part of the proposal review process,
including as part of self assessment by the applicants to the HRF, the peer review by the
clusters and the HRF team and board review. This sends out a strong message to the
humanitarian partners that gender is important in the selection criteria although applications
are not turned down completely but the applicants are requested to redesign them with the
support of either the Gencap Advisor or internal capacity.
Gender Dimensions in Cluster Response Plans
Cluster Gender in Gender in Gender in Gender in
Needs Analysis Objectives- Response Monitoring
Agriculture Some Some Some Some
NFI/emergency Yes Yes Yes Yes
Early Recovery Not active Not active Not active Not active
Education Yes Yes Yes Yes
Food Security Some Some Some Some
Health Some Some Some Some
Nutrition Some Some Some Some
Protection Yes Yes Yes Yes
WASH Some Some Some Some
Gender Code Results1
Cluster Total # Code 0 Code 1 Code 2a Code 2b
# (%) # (%) # (%) # (%)
Agriculture 10 10 60 303
NFI/CCCM/emergency 3 - 334 67
Education 15 100
Food Security - - - - -
Health - - - - -
Nutrition 7 28 28 42
Protection/UNFPA 16 - - - 100
WASH 16 6 50 437-
UNDSS 1 100
5. Use of the Marker to Track GBV Results
So far, there has been no application submitted on GBV, however with the formation of
the GBV sub cluster, the members will be submitting proposals in the near future.
From a word search, in a random sample of 20 applications; 16% had indicated GBV
terms; especially sexual exploitation of boys and girls and Gender based violence
affecting women and girls, although an indicative budget or output was not always
In some instances when the application has been revised from the review processes, the final gender code has not
been revised. This needs to be adjusted in future gender marker templates.
These are applications received and funded after the introduction of the gender marker, from end of April
One of the projects in this category is a joint project consisting of 4 partners, for the purposes of this analysis; it
was treated as one project as there is joint accountability for the results.
Recommendations were made to the applicant to ensure that sanitary materials were included in this initiative as
part of enhancing integration of targeted actions based on a gender analysis.
This was part of a joint initiative addressing WASH issues too.
The proposal was submitted by UNFPA, with the aim of supporting the Gencap role in 2011.
Of note is that majority of these WASH projects in these categories address other sectors jointly with WASH such
as Agriculture, NFI and Education. None is a standalone WASH initiative.
visible. Actions ranged from awareness raising and ensuring safety and security of
women and girls in the implementation of the emergency operations.
5. Next Steps – Suggestions for follow up after the pilot phase.
At the level of the clusters:
Outlining the role of the protection cluster (or the GenNet where available), in reinforcing
and institutionalizing the use of the gender marker and giving adequate support to the rest of
the clusters in the application after a Gencap Advisor leaves.
At HC/HCT level:
Continuous advocacy and lobbying with the HC and HCT’s as advocates for gender in
At the level of the donors:
Lobbying with the donors to encourage their humanitarian partners to implement and apply
the Gender marker at all levels would be a critical step forward.