Gender inequality manifests itself through a complex web of forces, socially, culturally and historically entrenched in societies and relationships and cannot be changed by isolated interventions. Gender mainstreaming implies political change and redistribution of power and resources. Theory of Change thinking might be a helpful framework to include gender analysis and gender equality objectives in programme design in a more consistent way.

This paper is the result of an E-Dialogue, which explored the potential of Theory of Change for gender approaches, and vice versa. We start this Gender and ToC End Note with a few lessons on gender mainstreaming and a quick look at current gender and ToC practices. This is followed by a summary of the E-Dialogue, in which the contributions are organised around some key emerging insights. The Spanish version of the paper is available as well.

The integration of women’s rights and gender equality perspectives into the mainstream of all policies, programmes and resource allocations of organisations demands a significant cultural change. Achieving such a change needs concerted and consistent action.

Gender inequality is the outcome of a complex web of forces, socially, culturally and historically entrenched in societies and relationships and cannot be changed by isolated interventions. Gender mainstreaming must aim for achieving political change and redistribution of power and resources. ToC thinking might be a helpful framework to include gender analysis and gender equality objectives in programme design in a more consistent way and from the very start of an intervention. In all stages of the process, such as the formulation of the desired change (for whom?), the actor and power analysis, the articulation of assumptions and the strategic thinking, gender (in)equality should be a core component of and lens for questioning and reflection.