MEDA’s Jordan Valley Links (JVL) project has been using Gender Progress Markers (GPMs) as a measurement tool, supplementing its other monitoring and evaluation techniques, to thoughtfully and deliberately observe the changes in social and gender dynamics affecting women and men in their families and local communities. These markers help us move beyond numbers and quantitative data; they let us look at how attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors related to gender progress changes over the life of a project.
The JVL project first implemented gender progress markers in early 2019 with approximately 35 women entrepreneurs in the food processing and tourism sectors and 30 men in the Jordan Valley. The interviews and discussions with these women and their families (husbands, fathers, brothers and/or sons), as well as with community leaders, revealed so much to all those involved. With MEDA’s facilitation, these groups finally had conversations about what an empowered woman looked like, what were her characteristics, who supported her and how.
The characteristics of an empowered woman as defined by the women and their families
Based on further discussions and validation with the women and their families, the project developed outcome statements against which progress is monitored every six months with the same set of women and families. These statements are truly developed in the spirit that everyone benefits if women and their families are engaged in defining gender equality for themselves. Below is an outcome related to family and community recognition set by and validated with women entrepreneurs themselves.
The GPM process has proved valuable not only for monitoring progress for women and their households, but it has also proved valuable in raising awareness on gender equality issues and for facilitating sensitive discussions through focus groups and individual home visits within families, and particularly between wives and husbands.
Khloud, a women entrepreneur from Southern Shounah and her husband Adel shared their insights during one of the project’s GPM visits:
“Sharing household chores is now a topic that is open for discussion and not a taboo as it was used to be,” Adel said, “I’ve reached a point that whenever I found her busy, I start doing the needed cleaning. I’m doing this and I’m proud of it.”
Other MEDA projects, including ones in Nigeria and Senegal, are now adopting GPMs to both monitor and facilitate gender equality changes within households and communities. The JVL project has integrated GPMs as a critical tool to determine whether women and men are benefiting from changing gender relations as a result of women’s economic empowerment – changes that should lead to reduced barriers for women to engage in economic activities. The project encourages other organizations and projects to adopt this process, which can lead to more holistic, community-wide, locally-driven progress to women’s economic empowerment. If interested in adopting GPMs into other organizations and projects, please refer to the project’s Summary Overview, Technical Brief, and Implementation Manual.
Yasmin Taba’a, Gender and Youth Specialist, Jordan Valley Links project, Jordan
Yasmin has a Masters Degree in Information Technology Management. She is passionate about working with women and youth. She started her volunteering journey in 2003 with one of the national organizations for women and youth, until she became head of the organization in 2012. She has also served UNFPA for about four years as a Youth Program Officer. Yasmin believes that National and International organizations should play a complementary role for the good of Jordanian women, men, girls and boys.
Farah Chandani, Senior Project Manager, West Africa/Middle East and North Africa Program
Farah is responsible for promoting increased financial access, entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for women and men in West Africa/Middle East and North Africa. She currently manages the Jordan Valley Links project which focuses on women and youth entrepreneurs and will run until 2021.