Introducing our new toolkit on the GCRF Gender Equality Statement




This blog post originally appeared on the Edinburgh Research Office Blog. Dr Rosalind Cavaghan is an independent academic consultant on gender equality. Working with Professor Fiona Mackay, Director of GENDER.ED, Dr Cavaghan has developed a toolkit to guide colleagues in developing a Gender Equality Statement as part of a Global Challenges Research Fund or Newton Fund application.

In collaboration with GENDER.ED, Edinburgh Research Office launched a new toolkit designed to help PIs complete the Gender Equality Statement, which is a compulsory part of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and Newton Fund application process.

The toolkit is succinct and action oriented. It takes take you through four steps that will help you work out how gender is relevant to your project and describes the actions that you can take to make sure you are fulfilling the requirements of the Gender Equality Statement sufficiently.

Why does the GCRF application include a Gender Equality Statement?

The shortest answer to this is, it’s the law. The International Development (Gender Equality) Act 2014 requires that aid spending must be “likely to contribute to reducing poverty in a way which is likely to contribute to reducing inequality between persons of different genders”. Therefore, activities funded through GCRF and the Newton Fund must adhere to this requirement. The GCRF Gender Equality Statement is intended to ensure projects comply accordingly.

More broadly, International frameworks like the Sustainable Development Goals and human rights frameworks such as the UN’s 1979 CEDAW Convention (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) provide an international consensus that gender inequality needs to be carefully considered in development policy and actions. These commitments are the product of over 30 years of learning within the international development sector.

How is gender relevant in GCRF projects?

When thinking about the relevance of gender in GCRF research projects, it is helpful to emphasise that the impacts of any technology or knowledge produced through a GCRF project can’t realistically be expected to ‘just benefit everyone.’ Actually, the distribution of any positive outcomes from a GCRF project, are likely to be mediated by existing socio-economic inequities.

Within the development sector, practitioners have built up techniques and practices such as using a ‘Theory of Change’ approach or ‘gender sensitive situational analysis’ to ensure that development interventions leave no-one behind. For researchers in higher education, this means tackling these issues can require new ways of thinking, especially for those used to working in fundamental science.

In addition, existing hierarchies and social norms in different countries can act as barriers to women’s participation as researchers in research institutions the Global South.

The good news is that there are proven methods to deal with these challenges. Project teams can make efforts to encourage more equitable distribution of the benefits of a project, and to support gender equal participation in research, and this is exactly what our toolkit aims to help PIs do.

It is also particularly helpful to approach a specialist on gender issues in your area of research during the early phases of your project development. GENDER.ED provides a directory of researchers working on gender in many areas of research. It can also be very useful to search online for gender equality NGOs working in your theme of research or in your target geographical area.

We are in the process of compiling some specific guidance on how gender is relevant to various themes of development work, eg. gender & food security, gender & energy, gender & health etc.

What does the Gender Equality Statement ask for?

The GCRF Gender Equality Statement requires researchers consider five issues:

  1. Have measures been put in place to ensure equal and meaningful opportunities for people of different genders to be involved throughout the project? This includes the development of the project, the participants in the research and innovation and the beneficiaries of the research and innovation.
  2. The expected impact of the project (benefits and losses) on people of different genders, both throughout the project and beyond.
  3. The impact on the relations between people of different genders and people of the same gender. For example, changing roles and responsibilities in households, society, economy, politics, power, etc.
  4. How any risks and unintended negative consequences on gender equality will be avoided or mitigated against, and monitored.
  5. Whether any relevant outcomes and outputs are being measured, with data disaggregated by age and gender (where disclosed).

Our toolkit draws on existing best practice in the development sector. It explains key terms, provides illustrative examples and maps out a how PIs can respond to each of these five requirements.


Rosalind Cavaghan is an award winning academic and has acted as an expert consultant for the European Institute for Gender Equality and the Scottish Government, and as an expert witness on Gender Mainstreaming, for the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, House of Commons Canada. Her recent book ‘Making Gender Equality Happen: Knowledge Change and Resistance in EU Gender Mainstreaming’ examined the factors driving successes and failures in the EU’s efforts to mainstream gender into its research and innovation programmes.

This toolkit was one of the key outputs from a projected funded through the Scottish Funding Council’s GCRF Development Grant ‘Integrating Gender into GCRF Bids: Getting to Sufficiency’. The Principal Investigator was Prof. Fiona Mackay, Director of GENDER.ED, the University of Edinburgh’s hub for the study of gender and sexuality and the project was managed by Dr Rosalind Cavaghan. The project was overseen by the University of Edinburgh’s Working Group on Gender in International Development Research and Edinburgh Research Office.  The team included Boel McAteer (University of Edinburgh), Dr Romina Istratii (Independent Academic Consultant) and Dr Kate Newman, (Director of Research Evidence and Learning, Christian Aid).