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Nutrition International is committed to improving gender equality outcomes in our work. We have developed guidance documents, supported learning of key nutrition stakeholders, and continue to reflect on lessons learned and ways to improve.

In 2020-2021, Nutrition International, through our Nutrition Technical Assistance Mechanism’s Technical Assistance for Nutrition (TAN) project funded with UK aid from the UK government, conducted two exercises to assess the impact of technical assistance on gender equality: an external Progress Assessment (November 2020 – May 2021) and a Gender Equality Assessment (July 2020 – May 2021).

Below is a summary of the findings and recommendations from these assessments. By sharing these learnings, we hope to improve the way gender equality is meaningfully considered in technical assistance.

Achieving gender equality results through technical assistance

The external Progress Assessments (PAs) were conducted on nine technical assistance assignments in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique and Pakistan to identify the longer-term benefits of technical assistance for sustaining government leadership on nutrition. The PAs assessed eight outcomes, including a review of the impact of technical assistance on gender equality.

The PA reports indicate that mainstreaming gender equality in technical assistance has contributed to improving gender equality in four ways:

Increased stakeholder awareness on gender issues related to nutrition.

  • In Kenya, stakeholders reported an increased awareness of issues that needed to be addressed as part of the action plan to improve nutrition in the county, such as the underlying causes of teenage pregnancies.

Enhanced targeting of girls and women in nutrition-related activities.

  • In Pakistan’s Punjab province, technical assistance-facilitated gender discussions with sectoral partners resulted in the agricultural sector committing to target women for kitchen gardens and poultry inputs, while the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) team prioritized girls’ schools for the provision of WASH facilities to reduce incidences of diarrhoea and other diseases among young girls, helping to improve their nutrition.

Improved monitoring of sex-disaggregated data and gender-sensitive indicators.

  • In Bangladesh, gender mainstreaming training conducted during the technical assistance contributed to greater inclusion of gender-sensitive indicators in sectoral workplans based on the national nutrition monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework.

Increased engagement of the ministries responsible for gender equality in nutrition policy and program discussions.

  • In Ethiopia, the technical support to strengthening the National Nutrition Plan M&E framework increased the participation of the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth in trainings and resulted in enhanced capacity of their staff.

The PAs also identified some challenges and opportunities to strengthen technical assistance support for improving gender equality outcomes, highlighting, for example, the importance of explicitly stating the desired output-level results for gender equality in each technical assistance assignment.

For more information and findings, see the summary of Gender Equality results in the external Progress Assessment report.

Improving gender mainstreaming in technical assistance

The Gender Equality Assessment reviewed 34 technical assistance assignments delivered in Africa, Asia and to the SUN Movement Secretariat through the TAN project between 2016 and 2021. It also built on and incorporated learnings from a gender case study, a technical assistance assignment implemented in Bangladesh with the exclusive aim to support gender mainstreaming. The main conclusion supported by the gender case study is that investing resources in national gender equality expertise and the inclusion of intentional and explicit gender equality objectives in technical assistance yields valuable gender equality results. It can also lead to better strategies, more inclusive consultation processes, deliverables which demonstrate more cross-sectoral linkages, an explicit pathway to gender equality outcomes, and more sustainable results.

Examining other factors enabling the achievements of gender equality results, the Gender Equality Assessment provided recommendations for how gender equality can best be incorporated in technical assistance:

Set a program-wide vision for gender equality in technical assistance

  • Developing a gender equality results framework at the project or program level can provide conceptual clarity and a roadmap for the anticipated contribution of technical assistance to gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Ensure sufficient gender equality expertise is sourced, at both the project and technical assistance assignment levels

  • Recruiting gender specialists to technical assistance teams with geographic and/or sub-thematic expertise is often required to ensure adequate contributions toward reaching gender equality objectives. This is particularly required for particular technical assistance roles, like those that support nutrition costing, budgeting, and financial tracking, which require gender budgeting experts.

Be intentional in incorporating gender equality in individual technical assistance assignments

  • Developing clear gender equality-focused objectives and deliverables in the terms of reference for technical assistance assignments can increase the likelihood that providers will pursue gender equality-focused results.

Sustain gender mainstreaming practices

  • Capitalizing on existing mechanisms, processes, tools, and lessons learned can help accelerate the achievement of results in future programs. In the case of the TAN project, a high-frequency low-dose approach (gender onboarding in the early weeks of technical assistance implementation with a follow-up midway through the cycle by gender equality advisors) has shown results in terms of providing strategies to technical assistance providers and ensuring a certain level of accountability to gender integration.

Measure the impact on gender equality

  • Measure the gender equality impact of technical assistance through robust mechanisms.

Nutrition International is committed to mainstreaming gender equality in all its programs, including technical assistance provision. For more information on how Nutrition International mainstreams gender equality in its technical assistance, or regarding the reports or their findings and recommendations, please contact