Senior woman using landline phone, smiling

The process of implementing gender mainstreaming throughout the project cycle must be monitored as part of the overall monitoring process.

The specific objectives set and the indicators that enable their assessment must be monitored on a regular basis.

Quantitative and qualitative indicators must enable ongoing monitoring of whether the project’s gender equality objectives are being met and assessing the gender impact of project activities. If objectives are not being met, it will be essential to re-assess the project strategy and make amendments in order to ensure improvements.

Developing indicators

An indicator is a measurable criterion through which changes can be assessed. It can be a number, fact, pointer, or a perception used to signify change in a specific condition or progress towards particular objectives.

“Gender responsive”, “gender sensitive” or “gender equality” indicators measure gender-related changes. Gender indicators can be quantitative indicators based on sex-disaggregated statistical data, which provides for example separate measures for men and women in their diversity on employment or business creation. Gender indicators can also capture qualitative changes – for example, increases in women´s levels of empowerment or in attitude changes about gender equality.

Measurements of progress in terms of gender equality might concern changes in project management processes ensuring that gender equality is addressed in all phases of implementation , project outcomes for women and men (i..e number of men and women who gained employment after participating in a project), or changes in the participation of men and women in project activities (i.e. increase in older women accessing employment services).

As a measure of social change and the performance/effectiveness of projects, gender-sensitive indicators can be described in terms of:

  • the derived quality to be reached;
  • the quantity of something to be achieved;
  • the target group who is affected by or benefits from the project; and,
  • the time frame envisaged for the achievement of the objectives.

Source: The University of Adelaide  

Quantitative approaches 

Quantitative methods of data collection produce quantifiable results, so they focus on issues which can be counted, such as percentages of women and men in the labour market, male and female wage rates or school enrolment rates for girls and boys. Quantitative data can show changes in gender equality over time – for example, an often used quantitative indicator is the number of girls in school compared to boys.

Qualitative approaches

Qualitative methodologies capture people’s experiences, opinions, attitudes and feelings – for example women’s experiences of the constraints or advantages of working in the informal sector, or men’s and women’s views on the causes and consequences of underrepresentation of women in higher positions. Often participatory methodologies such as focus group discussions and social mapping tools are used to collect data for qualitative indicators. Qualitative data can also be collected through surveys measuring perceptions and opinions. 

Requirements for indicators

All indicators in the project must be considered from a gender perpspective. Gender equality indicators often need to be both quantitative and qualitative. Here it is important to ask: Are the planned indicators appropriate for assessing the gender equality impacts of the project? If not, what further indicators need to be established?

A number of important aspects have been identified to guide the development, selection and application of gender indicators and the data that inform them including: 

  • Gender indicators need to have clearly-defined principles of measurement, concepts, definitions and classifications;
  • Conventional concepts and methods used in data collection are often inadequate to reflect the realities of women and men; and,
  • As new policy emerges, new methods and conceptualisations of data collection are required (e.g. the use of time-use data in assessing the role of unpaid work);
  • Gender indicators need to be linked to policy goals;
  • Gender indicators need to be able to monitor progress over time;
  • Gender-disaggregated data needs to be of a high quality.

Source and further reading


Print this
Created: 2013/01/10   Changed: 2014/12/04