Gender Action Mainstreaming for Empowerment to Change

life's rocky ROAD

Women's Rights | Women's empowerment | Working with men | Participation | Wealth Creation | Sustainability |
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Life's Rocky Road

Moving forward in life requires a clear vision, an understanding of where we are now, how we got here and how step by step we can move forward to achieving our vision.

Life's road will never be easy. Not all dreams will be realised. ‘Fate’ may unexpectedly strike any time. But with a clear vision and proper road map which is consulted frequently, to learn from experience and plan the next steps, it is possible to move on further and more quickly. And when the going gets tough, there is always the clear shining vision to help us pick ourselves up.

When many people know where they want to go, and how they can get there, new and better roads will be made for the whole society to move towards a new future.


The underlying framework for all GALS processes is the ‘Road Journey' for life. This basic framework can be adapted to any issue. In GALS it focuses on promotion of women’s human rights specified in CEDAW and gender mainstreaming in wealth creation.

The 'Road Journey' concept is intuitive and has proved itself to be easily understood and useful at all levels - from people who cannot read and write to boardrooms of donor agencies and corporate giants used to talking about 'strategic road maps'. It is therefore a powerful framework for promoting communication and mutual respect between stakeholders at different levels of any process.

For more details see Rocky Road to Diamond Dreams

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Other Diagram Tools

Road Journeys are progressively refined using other diagram tools:

  • Diamonds
  • Achievement Journeys
  • Circle Maps
  • Trees

These other tools are adapted and sequenced in specific ways, depending on the nature of the issue and process. Each of these diagram tools can also be used individually and adapted in many different ways for analysis, planning and tracking.

For more details see

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Where do we want to go? Vision journeys

The Road Journey starts with a vision - a long-term dream of where women and men want to go in life. This is drawn as a large sun circle at the top right of the paper - because the vision is what will help them move upwards.

The vision can be for wealth, ‘happy families’ and personal development. Whatever will inspire people to start and also continue when life gets difficult. Helping men as well as women develop their visions, increases their personal commitment to change and motivation, to change attitudes and behaviour of other men.

Visioning can be done in a number of ways:

  • Soulmate visioning (shorter but less detailed)
  • Gender Justice Diamond (more in-depth and generating greater understanding)

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Where are we now?

Having identified what they want to achieve, people then draw where they are now in relation to each element of the vision as a smaller crcle at the bottom left of the paper.

This step can include further analysis and identifcation of priorities for change through for example:

  • Gender Balance Tree looks at degree of equity between work inputs from women and men and what they get in terms of income and expenditure
  • Empowerment map looks at relationships, resources and power in the household and community – which relationships, resources and organisations can help and which need to be changed.

Then they join up the two circles with two straight lines to represent their Road - which they hope will be straight and upwards.

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Setting SMART targets : Vision Journeys revisited

The outputs from all the above analyses are added progressively to the original vision journey as deeper learning on opportunities, challenges and strategies.

At an appropriate point, depending on the design of the individual process, participants identify shorter term targets as milestones along the road, with specific action commitments which are monitored.

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Accessing opportunities and addressing challenges: Challenge Action Trees

Challenge Action Trees are modified versions of 'problem solution trees'. In GALS there are no 'problems', just opportuhities which need to be accessed and challenges which need to be addressed. It is also important to go well beyond brainstorming of possible solutions and just talk. It is necessary to identify 'SMART' fruits - immediate actions which can be taken by individuals soon after they get home in order to start the journey towards their vision.

These fruits are then monitored at group meetings as the basis for discussion and mutual learning of what strategies work and what does not work.

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How much progress have we made? Achievement Journey

In order to see how we can move forward therefore, it is important to see what we have done in the past and how we can learn from that. It is important in life always to stay positive. This means having pride and confidence in what we have achieved, rather than always dwelling on future ‘problems’.

The Achievement Journey plots the time up to the current situation as a separate Road Journey, with all its twists and turns.

A key part of this analysis is the analysis of opportunities and constraints in the past.

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How can we progress even further? The 'Mother Road': Individual to Collective Action Strategy

The individual Road Journeys are combined at different stages into collective Road Journeys for organisations and collective action.

Again the progress along the Road is tracked as the basis for learning which strategies work and which do not.

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