Five ways CSOs can be accountable on International Women’s Day

Bethany Spendlove Keeley

Communications Coordinator, Accountable Now

At Accountable Now we advocate and push for our members – a range of NGOs operating at regional and international levels – to see accountability as a means to transform the civil society sector and build trust. We continually see how they have embraced change, and dynamic and inclusive processes which give control and power to those who have traditionally been refused a seat at the decision-making table. Nonetheless, the fight for gender equality is not over and we cannot underestimate the forces that stifle progress to maintain the status quo. On this International Women’s Day, we are choosing to challenge our members and other organisations to address their practices and policies. Get inspired by good practices from some of our members and check out what you can do to be accountable on International Women’s Day and beyond. 


1. Promote and measure your impact


Be loud and vocal about your commitment to gender equality. But don’t forget to not only talk the talk, but walk it too! ChildFund International, along with ChildFund Alliance partners have integrated gendered approaches into their planning and programming based upon their gender equality position paper. They actively promote the involvement and leadership of women and girls throughout project cycles. This goes for not only their partners but their own organisations too, contributing to a growth in awareness of the importance of women and girls being involved in decision making and planning. Yet, most importantly, they measure their performance and progress through quantitative and qualitative data, and ensure gender-sensitive targets are met, creating visible, positive change. You can find out more in their latest accountability report on our website


You can also take inspiration from Oxfam and their Guide to Feminist Influencing – a practical tool that will help you understand how to take a rights-based approach to your work in your civil society organisation. 


2. Prioritise gender-inclusive partnerships


Make sure the partners you work with support gender-inclusive approaches within projects and programming. As an organisation, set yourself the task of developing a partnership policy that sets clear rules that ensure gender equality practices and principles are integrated into your partnerships. 

Get inspiration from Plan International’s Building Better Partnerships Guiding Principles! Before entering a partnership, Plan ensures all partners understand their commitment to a rights-based approach and gender equality. They define ‘non-negotiable’ points, where, if crossed, could result in termination of partnerships, one being discrimination on the basis of gender.

Learn more about principled partnerships here


3. Check your team and governance structures are gender-balanced


The civil society sector is very often seen as being composed of women – and as true as that may be, it is the lack of women in leadership and trustee positions that shows how far NGOs still have to go to be gender balanced in their own organisations. FairShare of Women Leaders has shed light on this issue with their Monitor which assesses civil society organisations’ commitment to having women in leadership, and advocates for a fair share of at least 50% women leaders or higher to match the percentage of women in staff positions. 


15 members of Accountable Now are featured in FairShare’s latest Monitor, with most making progress in changing their leadership structures to be gender balanced. Find out more about Fair Share’s approach and methodology, plus the latest monitor on their website!


4. Understand and address intersectionalities within gender


Fighting for the equality between genders will not be enough to address inequalities that exist across our world. There is more to understand and the work of CSOs can be adapted to ensure that inclusion exists not just for all genders but for all of those excluded based on location, religion, disability status, ethnicity or sexual orientation. 


By understanding the many factors that can affect exclusion of groups which go beyond the gender lens, CSOs will be able to truly act in a way that is inclusive, taking into consideration the multi-faceted forms of oppression that different groups face. In doing so, CSOs can positively challenge existing power structures and ensure diverse groups of people will gain and be able to utilise their power. 


Learn more about the how to go beyond gender in social inclusion practices with CIVICUS’s Social Inclusion Toolkit 


5. Challenge yourself, your colleagues and your organisation as a whole to integrate gender and diversity into programme design and MEL approaches


This speaks to the Social Inclusion Toolkit above, and shows, in a practical way, how one of Accountable Now’s members integrates gender perspectives into their organisation. Article19 have developed a method called Mx Method that sees their strategy, operations and internal practices shaped through an intersectional perspective. This was seen as a good practice by Accountable Now’s Independent Review Panel due to its holistic approach which goes beyond usual gender inclusion practices in the civil society sector. 


Learn more about the good practice here!


Are you an Accountable Now member? We need more action, creativity and dedication by all of those committed to the civil society sector. Let us know how you are putting gender equality first. Get in touch.

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