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Board thematic discussions on gender
GFO Issue 424

Board thematic discussions on gender



Article Type:

Article Number: 5

ABSTRACT For the first time the Global Fund Board meeting held thematic discussions on two topic, one on gender and the second on communities. This article summarises the gist of the Board discussion paper on gender and provides some feedback from Board members on the topics presented

At the 48th meeting of the Global Fund Board, members were treated to two Thematic Discussions, one on gender and the other on communities. The gender thematic presentation was based on the Gender Thematic Report.

This article summarizes the important points of the Board presentation and the subsequent discussion.

The Fund’s ambition regarding gender

The 2023–2028 Global Fund Strategy commits the Global Fund and its partners to initiating a “partnership-wide focus on gender transformative programming to advance gender equality and reduce gender-related barriers to HIV, TB and malaria (HTM) services,” by:

  • Scaling up comprehensive programs and approaches to remove gender-related barriers and inequalities across the portfolio.
  • Advancing youth-responsive programming, including for adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) and young key and vulnerable populations (KVPs) and their partners.
  • Supporting comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) programs and their strengthened integration with HIV services.
  • Supporting targeted sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) prevention and response interventions and systems.
  • Promoting the role of community-based and community-led organizations (including women and LGBTQI-led organizations) in the design and implementation of programs dedicated to challenging harmful gender norms, prejudices and stereotypes.
  • Supporting the integration of national gender-responsiveness action plans into multisectoral health and HTM strategies.
  • More proactively engaging ministries of gender and social protection in Global Fund processes.
  • Establishing innovative partnerships with development partners, national government agencies and community-based, community-led and civil society organizations working on advancing gender equality.
  • Deploying quantitative and qualitative data to identify drivers of HTM inequity and inform targeted responses, including by gender.

The Global Fund has high hopes that in three years’ time, the end of the forthcoming funding cycle 2023-2025, it will see:

  1. Gender equality as a key consideration in the design, delivery and evaluation of all Global Fund-supported programs, not only in standalone initiatives.
  2. Sex and gender-disaggregated data routinely used for program design, delivery, adaptation and evaluation.
  3. Clear roles, responsibilities and accountability within the Secretariat and across the whole Global Fund partnership.

The presentation went on to define gender and what this means in the Global Fund context and then discussed how gender as a topic has been addressed in the Global Fund over the years.

Figure 1. The evolution of gender in the Global Fund

For the Fund to deliver its Strategy commitments and reach the HTM objectives, a dual approach will be used to integrate a gender-equality focus across the portfolio as well as investing in dedicated gender-specific interventions in key areas. The principles of this approach will be applied consistently across all portfolios, with implementation tailored in line with a differentiated approach.

Dual approach is based on lessons learned

The findings of various reviews have led to the development of this approach:

  • The 2020 Technical Evaluation Reference Group (TERG) Strategic Review said that progress against gender objectives was “muted and inconsistent”. Global Fund grants were often designed without sufficient focus on gender issues to attain results.
  • The 2020-2022 Technical Review Panel (TRP) Observations Report noted that interventions to address inequalities were “insufficient to meet the scale of need and were siloed”. Gender assessments rarely translated into well-targeted services and interventions with metrics to monitor outcomes
  • The 2022 Community Engagement and Community-led Response Evaluation found that the gender focus was under-developed. The AGYW Strategic Initiative was described as “laudable but limited” to HIV in Southern and Eastern Africa. The approach was deemed to be “insufficient to ensure that gender is fully considered and addressed across all Global Fund investments”.
  • 2022’s MOPAN Assessment found that cross-cutting objectives such as gender were given less priority in resourcing. Gender was not adequately integrated, e.g., into the key performance indicator (KPI) framework.
  • The 2022 UN University International Institute for Global Health Gender Scan of United Nations Development Programme programs funded by the Global Fund said that “Funding requests were largely gender blind”, and, where funding requests include gender analyses, the “barriers and needs identified are often not addressed through program activities or budgets”.
  • The 2022–2027 Strategy consultations said that the Global Fund should double-down its efforts on equity, human rights and gender, including by “more deeply embedding this focus throughout the Global Fund’s work” and the grant lifecycle.

These findings emphasize the need for a dual approach, preventing a siloed and inconsistent focus by integrating a gender-equality lens across the entire portfolio and better meeting the scale of need by combining integration with targeted, gender-specific interventions.

The following diagram shows how the Fund envisages gender to be embedded across the grant life cycle in order to deliver its new Strategy.

Figure 2. Strategy delivery: embedding gender across the grant lifecycle

In the GC7 cycle, the ‘gender readiness’ of all countries will be evaluated through a new tool, the Gender Assessment Marker (GEM). The countries will submit their funding requests (FRs) as usual, in line with the requirements in the FR application documentation. The TRP will then assess the FR against the GEM criteria in Figure 3 below and assign scores. The scores and budgets combined will give the percentage of all gender equality-focused spend, and, through identifying the strengths, weaknesses and trends, the GEM score will be used to mobilize technical assistance and  support in collaboration with partners

Figure 3. Gender Equality Marker (GEM)

The discussion also wanted to highlight risk. Aggregated Gender Risk remains high, and the direction of travel is “steady”, as the diagram below shows.

Figure 4. Risk rating