Keeping a commitment to gender and social inclusion high on our agendas even in times of COVID-19

SAT Tool Cover

Gender and social inclusion (GSI) and partnership are two key elements in Water for Women’s approach, so it is wonderful to see the intersection of these two key aspects through this update from SNV’s Gender and Inclusion Advisor, Tshering Choden.


SNV is collaborating closely with research partner Institute for Sustainable Futures, The University of Sydney (ISF), through SNV’s three WASH projects, and ISF-UTS’ multiple research projects and now, through organisational strengthening using the Water for Women GSI Self-Assessment Tool (SAT).


The GSI SAT was developed by the WFW Fund Coordinator in early 2019 in consultation with partner Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) (SNV, Plan International and CBM) based on the fund’s Towards Transformation Strategy. The tool has been developed to support Fund member CSOs to reflect on their own practices and approaches to gender and social inclusion (GSI) against each of the four Fund end of program outcomes and change within their own organisation.


This GSI Self-Assessment is one of the areas of close collaboration between ISF-UTS and SNV as part of SNV’s beyond the finish line projects in Bhutan, Lao PDR and Nepal, funded by the Australian Government’s Water for Women Fund. SNV and ISF collaborate (as consortium partners) on:

  • Gender and leadership, including a focus on COVID-response
  • Making human rights relevant and actionable for local government
  • Inclusion, functionality and climate resilience in rural water service delivery
  • Climate resilience in rural sanitation


Using the GSI Self Assessment with ISF-UTS is part of the process of testing and adapting the tool to also be useful for research organisations.


"The process with the ISF was a very positive and useful one. Facilitating the SA with the ISF was important for two reasons. First, as partners we had agreed to support each other on enhancing knowledge on GSI, and second, this process revamped the GSI SAT in the times of the COVID-19."

Tshering Choden, Gender and Inclusion Advisor, SNV (Facilitator)


SNV and ISF’s commitment to gender and social inclusion remains firm, even in the face of the many challenges presented by COVID-19, we are continuing on this journey together.


The online workshop took place on 2nd September for the ISF project teams, facilitated by Tshering Choden, with expert support from the Water for Women’s GSI specialist, Jose Mott & ISF Research Director, Naomi Carrard.


"The workshop provided a safe space to reflect and challenge ourselves in a constructive and ambitious way. It enabled us to both acknowledge our strengths in GSI, and think about what more we can do."

Naomi Carrard, Research Director, ISF-UTS


The usual 1.5 day workshop was adapted to suit the needs of the ISF and the restrictions of COVID-19 by breaking it into two parts: a preparatory phase and a shorter workshop phase. Prior to the actual workshop, participants were introduced to the Water for Women GSI SAT and were divided into pairs to discuss and score their organisation on the 12 criteria under the three domains of change (Outcomes 3,4,5) that were the most relevant to the ISF.


The whole GSI SA process provided an opportunity for a conversation, first through the pair preparatory work, then through the actual workshop, among project teams, to reflect on current strengths and how to improve processes to better influence and drive positive change in GSI through the projects and organisation.


The pair preparatory work also included citing examples and discussions on the reasoning of their scores. These were all reviewed and discussed during the actual workshop, in a safe manner to ensure honest and open reflections, which led to the team’s agreement on the top GSI priority ideas that the ISF team would take further as part of their Water for Women-funded projects.


Supporting thorough implementation of the new ISF-UTS Equity and Diversity Strategy; increased peer discussions with other ROs/CSOs and bringing a GSI lens to project team composition and dynamics were the top priority ideas that came out of the ISF-UTS gender and social inclusion self-assessment virtual workshop.


As part of the self-assessment evaluation, participants were asked how using the tool has inspired them to make changes in their work practice. It was evident from responses, that social inclusion was top of mind for participants and they were already thinking about how to embed it organizationally, with a spirit of collective action!


"Covid related challenges meant that implementation of the Fund’s gender and social inclusion self-assessment tool, as planned at the Fund’s first self-assessment training at the Kathmandu learning event last December, has been significantly delayed. Tshering and ISF-UTS have now breathed new life into the tool, including opportunities for reshaping to virtual delivery. I now look forward to seeing how we can take this forward more widely across the Fund, starting with the Fund partner GSI Advisors who attended the training in Kathmandu.”

Jose Mott, Gender and Social Inclusion Advisor, Water for Women


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