Gender Action Mainstreaming for Empowerment to Change

Gender action learning

Women's Rights | Women's empowerment | Working with men | Participation | Wealth Creation | Sustainability |
Rocky Road Framework and Tools| GALS Processes | Diamond Forest | FALS |
Livelihoods | Business | Markets | Value chains | Financial Services | Policy |
Advocacy | Research |


Gender Action Learning for Sustainability at Scale (GALS@Scale) is a community-led empowerment methodology aiming at ‘constructive economic, social and political transformation’ in gender relations.

GALS@Scale is an adaptation of a generic methodology, Participatory Action Learning System (PALS). In PALS gender is mainstreamed as an integral and necessary part of wealth creation. In GALS gender transormation is the key goal.

GALS@Scale also updates tools and processes from the earlier GALS methodology to make it more empowering, cost-effective and self-sustaining. This means that it can be implemented not only by NGOs, but also private sector and in situations where there is little funding beyond a catalyst phase.


GALS@Scale uses inclusive and participatory processes and simple mapping and diagram tools for:

  • Individual life and livelihood planning: women and men, including those who cannot read and write, keep individual diaries to develop their own visions for change in gender relations and improved livelihoods, to plan how they can move towards these goals, and gain more control over their lives.
  • Institutional awareness-raising and changing power relationships: communicating these aspirations and strategies, and using the same tools at institutional level for staff reflection and learning, increases respect for the views and interests of poor women and men, challenges established attitudes and behaviours and gives poor women a voice in institutional decision-making.
  • Collective action and gender advocacy for change: the individual visions and strategies are shared to develop collective strategies, bringing women and men together, linked into participatory decision-making in governments and development agencies to better target and focus resources for empowerment and wealth creation.
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Distinctive features

Gender assumptions

  • Women are intelligent actors not ‘victims of subordination in need of consciousness-raising’.
  • Men are potential partners in a process of change and pursuit of social justice, not stereotypical monsters and problems.
  • Gender justice and rights-based principles are non-negotiable and underlie the way in which the process is facilitated, and the types of actions which are supported by development agencies.

Everyone can bring about change and become a leader of change

  • The main facilitators and implementers are women and men within communities using the methodology to change their own lives.
  • Focus on in-depth personal reflection and organisational changes in order to address hierarchical patterns of interaction and power relations at all levels.


  • Peer learning and organisational integration for sustainability
  • Every learning event contributes to building capacities and systems for ongoing peer action learning and peer training as the basis for a sustainable process of change.
  • The methodology and gender justice principles are integrated into existing activities, rather than being a one-off exercise or extra ‘project’ activity.
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Experience to date

By 2014 the numbers of women and men using GALS increased to over 30,000 women and men in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania as part of WEMAN process, Hivos GALS@Scale and TWIN Great Lakes Project. As a result of Oxfam Novib's WEMAN process there are also over 25,000 in Latin America and Asia.

These experiences indicate that, far from inevitably being a long-term and conflictual process imposed by a few middle class or Western feminists, gender justice is important for the vast majority of women and men in poor as well as better-off households:

  • Many changes in gender relations which empower women (including equality in land ownership and decision-making and freedom from gender-based violence) can come about for a significant number of people in a relatively short time (1-6 months) as the basis for longer term widespread change.
  • It is possible, and also beneficial, for men to consider gender inequalities in their personal lives, households and market relationships as an integral part of their own economic strategies to increase their wealth and that of their households.
  • This leads to greater happiness at household level leading to more efficient livelihoods and greater well-being for children, men and women.
  • The benefits of change in gender relations are enjoyed not only by poor households, but also households of the better off entrepreneurs and traders.
  • These changes enable participatory and sustainable structures for involving poor women and men in local government, and ultimately national level decision-making.

GALS@Scale should not therefore be seen as a methodology ‘for women’, but a mainstream methodology for women and men which can be integrated in different ways into any wealth creation intervention to make it more effective for men as well as women.

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