Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI)


Communities around the world are made up of a variety of social groups, all of which have different needs, assets, opportunities, and challenges. One way to ensure these diverse communities are understood and considered is by integrating Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) concepts into P/CVE projects. The United Nations continues to emphasize the importance of GESI concepts in development programming; the Sustainable Development Goals directly recognize the issues of gender equality, female empowerment, and social inclusion as fundamental to the end goal of reducing poverty and advancing a healthier, safer, cleaner, better educated, connected, just, and more egalitarian world.

Below you will find helpful information about GESI and how to integrate it into P/CVE programming.

What are Gender Equality and Social Inclusion?

What is Gender Equality?

“[G]ender equality involves working with men and boys, women and girls to bring about changes in attitudes, behaviors, roles and responsibilities at home, in the workplace, and in the community. Gender equality means more than parity in numbers or laws on the books; it means expanding freedoms and improving overall quality of life so that equality is achieved without sacrificing gains for males or females.” Source

What is Social Inclusion?

“Social inclusion is the process of improving the terms for individuals and groups to take part in society and the process of improving the ability, opportunity, and dignity of those disadvantaged on the basis of their identity to take part in society.” Source

According to the World Bank, an inclusive society must have the institutions, structures, and processes that empower local communities so they can hold their governments accountable. It also requires the participation of all groups in society, including traditionally marginalized groups—such as women, youth, older people, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) individuals, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and indigenous populations—in decision-making processes. Source 

Key Considerations for Integrating GESI Concepts into P/CVE Projects

Understanding GESI dynamics, in particular gender, is critical to understanding factors that contribute to extreme behavior and to creating effective intervention strategies. Below are a handful of important GESI considerations to keep in mind when designing and implementing P/CVE projects:

“.. a woman should not be assumed to be more or less dangerous [than a man], nor more prone to peace, dialogue, non-violence and cooperation than a man.”


Men and women are both actors and victims of conflict and violence and P/CVE projects should take this into consideration.

Typically, men are viewed as the aggressors and women as the innocent victims of violence and conflict. However, much research has been conducted in recent years to prove that this generalization is not always true and that instead, both men and women must be considered as both actors and victims.


Gender roles and social norms around what girls/women can/cannot do may restrict their ability to participate in program activities.

In many communities around the world, cultural and religious norms may dictate the roles of women and girls in society, and the types of interactions permissible between males and females. These norms should be taken into consideration and inform how to engage female participants in program activities. For example, girls/women’s responsibilities at home may prevent them from participating in program activities. Domestic responsibilities often take priority and leave female community members with little free time to engage in activities outside the home.


Social norms around masculinity might affect if/how boys/men react to and/or engage with program activities.

Just as social and cultural norms for females can be obstacles to participant engagement, so too can norms around masculinity. In patriarchal societies, men are viewed as the dominant members in the family unit. They are the primary providers and also work to protect and preserve the honor of their families. It may therefore be just as challenging to engage with male participants. They may be too busy supporting their families or taking part in other male-associated activities.

“... because of their local roots and diverse portfolios, preventative efforts by women and women’s organizations are believed to have special advantages when building resilience at the community level.”


Women can serve as highly influential changemakers and peacebuilders in their communities and should be consulted when designing and implementing P/CVE programs.

While women are often assumed to be more peaceful than men, this is not always the case. Women have their own agency as peacemakers and often possess high levels of social capital and can influence positive change in their communities. In their roles as wives, mothers, sisters, caregivers, community leaders, etc., women are often well placed to detect warning signs of radicalization in their families and communities, and more importantly, to intervene. Women can also act as positive role models for those they care for and promote moderation, tolerance, and acceptance.

Similarly, women’s organizations can be influential P/CVE stakeholders. These organization not only possess critical local knowledge, but often have deep and meaningful relationships within their communities and positive track records for addressing community needs.

“Gender does not stand alone from other social factors. Gender in PVE programming needs to be seen relationally and in conjunction with other factors such as age, ability/disability, class, geographic location, and marital status.”


Gender is More than Just Focusing on Women

According to UNDP and International Alert, “The majority of gender sensitivity in PVE programming focuses on women’s roles and participation in PVE.” However, “It may be more productive to think of gender as a frame of analysis that incorporates all people: women, girls, men, boys, and those who define as neither or both. Consider how different women, men, boys, girls, and those with other identities experience life in different ways depending on, for example, their age, class background, life experience, disability, or educational level.”

Getting Started: How to Integrate GESI into Your Project

If you’re wondering how to get started integrating GESI concepts into your project, begin with the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Cheat Sheet, which includes information to help you understand the GESI needs for your project and the initial steps to take. For more specified information about how to incorporate GESI concepts into your project, please consult the individual project phase modules – Assess, Design, Implement, M&E, and Learn. Additional GESI resources are listed below.

Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Exercise