Gender Impact Assessment

Suggested citation: Sauer, A. (2013). Gender Impact Assessment. LIAISE Toolbox. Retrieved date, from

Last update March 2014.

Short Version

Policies, projects or programming that appear gender neutral may indeed cause differential impacts on women and men, even when such effects were neither intended nor envisioned. Gender impact assessment (GIA) is an ex-ante and parallel method carried out in order to prevent unintended negative consequences and prompt intended positive gender equality outcomes. GIA as a rights-based tool supports political decision makers and project practitioners in improving the (e)quality and efficiency of policies, projects and programmes by realising better, more target group oriented output. It can also serve as an ex-post evaluation tool, picking up on intended or unintended gendered effects.

Extended Version

Definition & Objectives

GIA aims to detect disparities and degrees of difference in policy, project or programme induced consequences. It seeks to avoid negative consequences for either gender, especially for the contextual underprivileged one. It also strives to stimulate and enhance positive consequences.

GIA requires the analytical distinction between sex (biological/physical) and gender (roles, norms, stereotypes, identity).

Legal Mandate

The legal mandate to conduct GIA was internationally laid out in the international strategy of gender mainstreaming introduced by the Beijing Platform for Action at the 4th Women’s World Conference (1995). In 1996 the European Commission adopted the communication "Incorporating equal opportunities for women and men into all Community policies and activities", which set out the framework for implementing gender mainstreaming and its accompanying tool GIA for the purpose to promote gender equality “in all activities and policies at all levels” (COM(96) 67 final). Consequently and binding for all EU member states, Art. 3(2) in the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997), followed by the Treaty of Lisbon (2008) Art. 8, officially prescribe gender mainstreaming, which calls for the cross-cutting implementation of GIA in all impact and policy areas. GIA is therefore not limited to social impact areas, it is also applicable to economic and environmental impact areas.

Process & Method

There many gender analysis tools available (Gender-based Analysis; Gender Analysis, Gender Proofing or the 3R-, 4R-, 6R-Methods etc.). Although as tools not identical, they are step-based tools, following similar processes by offering check-lists of applicable questions. The choice of methods of how to answer these questions is not prescribed. In the following, the particular the GIA stand-alone tool as designed by DG EMPL of the European Commission in 1997-1998, will be laid out:

1st Step: Pre-test of checking gender relevance (scoping step)

Key and the basis for identifying gender relevance is to obtain sex disaggregated data and to ask the following two questions:

  1. Does the proposal concern one or more target groups? Will it affect the daily life of part(s) of the population?
  2. Are there differences between women and men in this policy field (with regard to rights, resources, participation, values and norms related to gender)?

If the answer to any of these two questions is positive, gender is relevant to the issue at stake.

2nd Step: Full-fledged Gender Impact Assessment

A full-fledged GIA of the policy, programme or project will first contain an analysis of:

1. Differences between women and men in the impact area(s) under analysis, such as:

1.1 participation: sex-composition of the target/population group(s), representation of women and men in decision-making positions;

1.2 resources: distribution of crucial resources such as time, space, information and money, political and economic power, education and training, job and professional career, new technologies, health care services, housing, means of transport, leisure;

1.3 norms and values: which influence gender roles, division of labour by gender, the attitudes and behaviour of women and men respectively, and inequalities in the value attached to men and women or to masculine and feminine characteristics (stereotypes);

1.4 rights: pertaining to direct or indirect sex-discrimination, human rights (including freedom from sexual violence and degradation), and access to justice, in the legal, political or socio-economic environment;

Secondly, the analysis will progress to answering the question:

2. How can the policy, programme or project contribute to the elimination of existing inequalities and promote equality between women and men; e.g. in participation rates, in the distribution of resources, benefits, tasks and responsibilities in private and public life, in the value and attention accorded to male and female, to masculine and feminine characteristics (stereotypes), behaviour and priorities?

For step 1 as well as step 2 a variety of methods come into question. Careful problem identification with comprehensive stake holder participation is key. Equity in stakeholder screening, scoping and consultation plays a central role, in order to allow for a balanced participation of women and men.

Combination with other methods

Gender Impact Assessment can be employed in three ways: 1) as an add-on or 2) stand-alone tool or 3) in an integrated fashion. When applied add-on, it is compatible with other IAs (e.g. integrated IA, sustainability IA, social IA, environmental IA, trade IA, poverty IA – even economic IA and financial IA) and adds to their analysis. When applied in an integrated fashion, gender concerns are mainstreamed throughout all steps and processes of the respective IA tool (gender mainstreaming approach).

As a minimum, it is crucial to employ the GIA relevance test as a scoping tool from the onset of any IA research in order to avoid gender imbalanced results. A full-fledged GIA concerns all IA steps such as data collection, participation and stakeholder analysis, data analysis, scenario development, monitoring and evaluation.

Types of data needed

The prerequisite for GIA is that sex disaggregated data is provided or generated. Sex disaggregated data is generated in quantitative terms (sex counting). In-depth GIA will most likely additionally employ qualitative methods and data, which enable a gender-based analysis (on rights, resources, participation, values and norms).

There is a wealth of mostly qualitative knowledge production on gender and its effects on populations and societal systems in all academic disciplines, esp. in gender studies. Usually, nowadays most quantitative information is sex disaggregated (e.g. by national and supra-national statistical offices). The utilisation of sex disaggregation of data in any kind of people centred research is a requirement under the gender mainstreaming strategy.

International organisations, such as the OECD, World Bank, development cooperation organisations etc. provide mostly quantitative studies, statistical evidence on gender imbalances and generate gender indexes, measuring gender (in)equality pertaining to human development, employment, education, health, social institutions etc. (e.g. The Global Gender Gap Report/The Global Gender Gap Index 2012).

Strengths & weaknesses

+ there are almost always almost everywhere gendered effects, which the tool helps to identify

+ helps to scrutinise seemingly gender neutral policy and programme making, revealing direct and/or indirect gendered effects with target groups, in structures and systems

+ helps to avoid unintended, negative gendered consequences

+ helps to identify and generate positive effects, promoting gender equality

+ can be a slim process and easy to use tool, producing fast, visible results, leading to direct project and policy improvement

- demands high levels of gender competency and knowledge of gendered effects in particular impact areas

- can be an exhaustive, complex, time-consuming process; depending on impact area and state of the art of accompanying gender research it can be hard to identify gendered effects when they are indirect, more buried/structural and/or more long-term.

Practice examples

United Kingdom; Department for Work and Pensions (2007). Gender Impact Assessment of Pension Reform. Pensions Bill 2007. Retrieved from:

Institute for Social-Ecological Research / ISOE (2000). Gender Impact Assessment in the Field of Radiation Protection and the Environment. Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). Retrieved from:

Lilaite, Anzelika (undated). Lithuanian experience in implementing 3R method in early childhood centres. Social Innovation Fund. Retrieved from:

Life e.V. (2004). Towards Gender Justice in Environmental Policy. Implementing Gender Mainstreaming in Germany. Retrieved from:


European Commission (1997/98). A Guide to Gender Impact Assessment. Retrieved from:

European Communities (2008). Manual for gender mainstreaming. Retrieved from:

European Social Fund’s Thematic Group on Equality, National Secretariat for Gender Research, Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (undated). 3R method. Retrieved from:

Swedish Government (2007). Gender Mainstreaming Manual. Retrieved from:

German Federal Ministry for Families, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (2007). Working Aid Gender Impact Assessment “Gender Mainstreaming in the Preparation of Legislation”. Retrieved from:,property=pdf,bereich=bmfsfj,sprache=de,rwb=true.pdf

European Commission. DG Research and Innovation (2013). Gendered Innovations. How Gender Analysis Contributes to Science and Research. Retrieved from:; see also updated "Gendered Innovations" website with methods, terms, check-lists and case studies (incl. sustainability research areas such as climate change, environmental chemicals, housing and neighborhood design, public transportation, water infrastructure etc.). Retrieved from:

Further Reading

Verloo, M., Roggeband, C. (1996). Gender Impact Assessment: The Development of a New Instrument in the Netherlands. In: Impact Assessment, Vol. 14, p. 3-20. Retrieved from:


Sauer, A., Vanclay, F. (2011). Gender and Gender Impact Assessment. Key Citations Series, Fargo: International Association for Impact Assessment. Retrieved from: