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Gender Roles Framework

Page history last edited by Alexandra Pittman 9 years, 8 months ago


Overholt, Anderson, Cloud and Austin. 1984. Gender Roles in Development Projects: A Case Book. Kumarian Press: Connecticut.

Aruna, Rao, Mary B. Anderson, and Catherine Overholt. 1991. Gender Analysis in Development Planning: A Case Book. West Hartford, CT: Kumarian Press. 

Organizatiosn: Harvard Institute for International Development in collaboration with WID office at USAID


The Harvard Analytical Framework (sometimes referred to as the “Gender Roles Framework” or the “Gender Analysis Framework”) was developed by researchers at the Harvard Institute of International Development (HIID) with USAID’s Office of Women in Development. The Harvard Analytical Framework offers one of the first efforts to disaggregate data by gender and capture differences in men’s and women’s positions and roles. Data is collected on the activities that men and women engage in at the individual and household level, according to their “reproductive” or “productive” nature.  These activities are then assessed in terms of access and control over resources to better understand how household (or community) distribution will influence program outcomes. According to our definitions, it is a tool rather than a framework because it can be used to establish baselines and track changes in gender relations within various M&E approaches.


The tool has an interrelated matrix for data collection, which includes 4 elements: the activity profile, identifying the demographics of those involved in the project; the access and control file, highlighting the resources, access, and control in each activity by gender; the analysis of influencing factors, identifying factors contributing to gender differences; and the project cycle analysis, assessing the intervention based on gender aggregation.[1]   The Harvard Analytical Framework is based on a Women in Development (WID) “efficiency” approach, meaning that the aim is to show that resource allocation to women and men makes good economic sense.  While the tool is gender aware and makes more visible the differences between men’s and women’s labor, it does not analyze the roots of gender inequality and power imbalance.  


Strengths of the Harvard Analytical Framework: 



  • The Gender Roles Framework is useful for mapping and identifying the gendered division of work as well as access and control over community resources.[2] 
  • The visual mapping process is useful for getting diverse groups of stakeholders on the same page.
  • Gender is a central part of the analysis, which is often rare in other development planning or program assessment tools and approaches. 
  • The analysis highlights the need for gender disaggregation in measuring program impact to help reveal if there are differential outcomes for men and women receiving the same program intervention. Combined with an in-depth analysis of access and resources, it may be possible to infer, to some extent, why these gender differences may exist.  


Weaknesses (or not designed for):



  • While gender analysis is central, identifying the source of power or social inequities is not the primary focus. This limits the ability to create strategic or targeted initiatives designed to decrease inequalities or increase access to power.
  • Stakeholder participation in defining the analysis is not fully developed or encouraged, limiting grassroots’ input. 
  • Often analysis can tend toward the economic rather than focusing on broader equality and gains in women’s rights.
  • There is no mechanism for assessing pathways of change, which limits understanding of why a program intervention works. 



[1] For examples of these tools and activities, see March, Candida, Inés A. Smyth, Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay. 1999. “A Guide to Gender-Analysis Frameworks.” 

[2] Donna Podems.  2007. “Gender (and Feminist) Issues in Global Evaluation.” AEA/CDC Summer Institute Atlanta, Georgia.



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