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The SEI Gender and Social Equity Programme

The core objective of this programme is to address knowledge and policy gaps related to gender and social equity in order to inform and advance sustainable development policy.
Multiple Authors
Thais Kasecker


There are vital interconnections between gender, social equity, environment and development. Environmental change can affect different social groups in different ways: women and men, rich and poor, specific ethnic and age groups, people in developed and developing countries.

Patterns of development and economic growth that neglect the needs of specific groups of people can exacerbate disparities, stratifying people into losers and winners, worsening living conditions and creating unjust outcomes. A deliberate focus on gender and social equity in development can help achieve more inclusive benefits, and enhance human and environmental well-being.

SEI has long engaged with these issues in its research, but often not in a focused, sustained and explicit manner. This programme aims to enhance SEI’s capacity to engage in research and policy with a view to transforming gender, social and power relations to ensure more equitable outcomes.

The full programme brief is available to download in the right-hand column.

Methods and approach

Our starting point is that unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, amplified by disparate distribution of decision-making power, are putting enormous pressure on natural resources and also worsening poverty and inequality, with particularly serious impacts on people who depend on natural resources for their livelihoods and survival.

The Programme’s core objective is to address knowledge and policy gaps related to gender and social equity in order to inform and advance sustainable development policy. The work packages and activities focus on three main tasks:

  1. Mainstreaming gender and social equity issues within SEI’s projects, themes, initiatives and operations, including model-based policy analysis, to strengthen SEI’s internal capacity for gender- and equity-sensitive research for policy wherever possible;

  2. Providing opportunities for new research projects with a gender and social equity lens; and

  3. Consolidating findings and insights in order to communicate them to relevant stakeholders, boundary partners and change agents to enable solutions for empowerment and transformative governance.

As shown in Figure 1, the Programme’s three functions are closely integrated. New research projects will inform and in turn reflect the approaches and procedures developed for mainstreaming gender and social equity in SEI research and methods. Communications and knowledge-sharing will be built into all activities, to foster dialogue within SEI and with our boundary partners, and to ensure that our work reaches and is relevant to policy-makers and other stakeholders.

From page 1 of the programme brief: The structure of the SEI Gender and Social Equity Programme.

The Programme is structured by three work packages aligned with the three main tasks.

Work package 1: Developing new research projects

This work package consists of three scoping studies that explore gaps in knowledge and policy related to gender and social equity. All three studies focus on the drivers and conditions of disadvantage, and explore potential and pathways for sustainability and empowerment. The three projects are:

  1. Integrating social and gender factors in SMEs’ sustainability agendas, which is working with SMEs in GreenEcoNet, a platform that SEI York developed to support SMEs transitioning towards a green economy, to better integrate gender and social equity in businesses’ sustainability efforts;
  2. Narrowing the gender pay gap in Estonia’s agriculture and forestry sectors, which sees SEI Tallinn exploring the implications of growing employment in these sectors for women’s employment and wages in the future, especially as more men are educated in and employed by these sectors; and
  3. Modeling gender-sensitive sustainability pathways, which is a global effort to design research tools to analyze the marginalization and exclusion of groups of women and men in the course of achieving and monitoring implementation of the SDGs.

Work package 2: Mainstreaming gender and social equity into modeling

This work package focuses on adapting and developing SEI’s modeling and technical support services to more effectively incorporate gender and social equity issues. This involves reviewing the design of the tools themselves, such as WEAP, the Water Evaluation and Planning system, and LEAP, the Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning system. The result will be guidance materials for mainstreaming gender and social equity perspectives in SEI model-based policy analysis.

Work package 3: Aligning gender and social equity issues with SEI research

This work package is carrying out a comprehensive assessment of gender-related knowledge, results and impacts from SEI research, as well as personnel expertise, as a starting point for the development of a gender and social equity strategy. SEI is also integrating gender variables into monitoring and evaluation throughout the project cycle, from budgeting and proposal writing, to ensuring gender-sensitive outcomes for our target groups.

Looking ahead

A number of publications and guidance documents are being produced in the first phase of the Programme. These will be shared on the Gender and Social Equity theme page.

In addition, we are developing several research proposals to build on this work and scale it up, and hope to collaborate with communities of researchers and practice at different scales. Our goal is to create meaningful partnerships premised on a strong ethic that questions the historical relationships that produced hunger, poverty, environmental decline and disasters.

If you would like to collaborate please contact the Programme leaders:

Programme Contacts:

Media contact: Marion Davis, [email protected]

Follow SEI on Twitter: @SEIresearch, @SEIclimate

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