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3. Practical Gender Needs and Strategic Gender Needs


  • Develop clear understanding of theoretical differences between these terms as used in GAD
  • Identify particular gender needs as practical or strategic
  • Relate practical gender needs and strategic gender needs to challenges of project identification, design, monitoring, implementation and evaluation

(Estimated Session Time: 1 hour)

Session Flow and Description 10 minutes

Introduction - 10 minutes
  • Share session objectives with participants.
  • Ask participants to share one particular need for women or girls witnessed in a community or ADP.
  • Record these answers on a flip chart.

Plenary Group Presentation - 20 minutes

Handout 3.3a, Practical Gender Needs and Strategic Gender Needs


  • Differences between practical gender needs (PGNs) and strategic gender needs (SGNs)
  • Addressing PGNs and SGNs

Discussion Questions

  • Why is this distinction important for Gender Analysis?
  • How is identification of strategic gender needs more closely linked to GAD than to WID?

Individual Exercise - 10 minutes

Examine the list of gender needs generated at the beginning of the session on the flip chart. Identify needs as PGN or SGN. Be prepared to explain why. If no SGNs were identified, list some.

Plenary Group Discussion - 15 minutes

Go over the list and ask for volunteers to identify each as a PGN or an SGN based on their individual exercises.

Discussion Questions

  • What is the importance of SGNs? PGNs?
  • In your own words, define the difference between SGNs and PGNs.
  • Define the difference between SGNs and PGNs in a non-formal way that a community member might use to distinguish between the two.
  • Are projects in your area more focused on SGNs or PGNs? Why?
  • Identify one project you are familiar with that is specifically addressing SGNs/PGNs.
  • If a project is addressing PGNs only, do you see a future path towards SGNs?
  • How does recognising the difference between PGNs and SGNs contribute to transformed gender relations between women and men, girls and boys?
Post-Session Assignment: Becoming a Gender Equity Witness - 5 minutes
  • Examine gender needs in your own family or community.
  • Which are PGNs and which are SGNs?
  • What kind of restructuring will be necessary to adequately respond to these needs?
  • Handout 3.3a, Practical Gender Needs and Strategic Gender Needs

Facilitator Preparation
  • Be prepared with your own list of PGNs and SGNs to share with the group or stimulate discussion.
  • Ensure you have a flip chart to work with.
  • Have paper available for participants for the individual exercise with PGNs and SGNs.
  • Prepare copies of discussion questions and assignments for individual and small group work.
  • Make copies of Handout 3.3a for all participants.
  • Create a presentation based on Handout 3.3a.

Practical Gender Needs and Strategic Gender Needs
Practical Gender Needs (PGNs Strategic Gender Needs (SGNs)
  • PGNs are needs women identify in their socially accepted roles in society. PGNs do not challenge gender divisions of labour or women’s subordinate position in society, although arising out of them. PGNs are a response to immediate perceived necessity, defined within a specific context. They are practical in nature and often are concerned with inadequacies in living conditions, such as water provision, health care and employment.
  • SGNs are needs women identify because of their subordinate position to men in their society. SGNs vary according to particular contexts. They relate to gender divisions of labour, power and control, and may include such issues as legal rights, domestic violence, equal wages, and health care. Meeting SGNs helps women achieve greater equality. It also alters existing roles and, therefore, challenges women’s subordinate positions.
  • Tend to be immediate, short term
  • Tend to be long term
  • Unique to particular women
  • Common to almost all women
  • Relate to daily needs: food, housing, income, healthy children, etc.
  • Relate to disadvantaged position: subordination, lack of resources and education, vulnerability to poverty and violence, etc.
  • Easily identifiable by women
  • Neither basis of disadvantage nor potential for change is necessarily easily identifiable by women
  • Can be addressed by provision of specific inputs: food, hand pumps, clinic, etc.
  • Can be addressed by consciousness raising, increasing self-confidence, education, strengthening women’s organisations, political mobilisation, etc.

Addressing PGNs Addressing SGNs
  • Tends to involve women as beneficiaries and perhaps as participants
  • Involves women as agents of change or enables women to become agents of change
  • Can improve the condition of women’s lives
  • Can improve the position of women in society
  • Generally does not alter traditional roles and relationships
  • Can empower women and transform relationships