In this step, you will consider how to gather the different views of groups of women and men. Engagement matters across the entire policy process – from identifying and understanding the problem all the way to developing the solution and implementation and evaluation.

How will you engage with groups by gender in your policy process?

A gendered engagement approach considers which groups might be affected by your policy. This will help you target those you want to hear from.

Policy engagement activity can be seen as a spectrum, at one end informing the public or those groups affected by a policy, and at the other, targeting diverse experience and inviting co-design of policy options. The IAP2 spectrum captures this range. You will need to work out what type of engagement fits your project at different points in the policy process, and overlay your engagement with a gender lens.

The Office for Māori Crown Relations – Te Arawhiti provide guidelines for engagement with Māori that spell out the range of engagement options, from inform, to empower. Te Puni Kōkiri can sometimes help with practical advice and assistance through its regional offices.

Why engage?

“As public servants, we are expected to act in the long-term public interest. This means we have a duty to those who are unable or unlikely to voice and assert their interests effectively in public life….”

Bromell, D. The Art and Craft of Policy Advising, Springer, 2017

To create value for all citizens, policy analysts need to understand something of their interests, constraints and the social licence government has for its activity. This implies a strong understanding of those affected by policy at a disaggregated level. Consultation is a tool for that understanding, particularly those unable or unlikely to voice and assert their interests.

When you can’t canvas women, look for people who work with women, either service providers or advocates. This can include NGOs and population agencies such as the Ministry for Women. You could also conduct a literature search and/or look for outcomes of previous consultation.

Here is a list of NGOs who have expressed an interest in participating in engagement with government agencies on women’s issues.
Rural Women New Zealand
National Council of Women New Zealand
YWCA Aotearoa New Zealand
The Backbone Collective
BPW New Zealand (New Zealand Federation of Business & Professional Women Incorporated)
Waitaha Executive Grandmothers Council
UN Women National Committee Aotearoa New Zealand
Tiaki Taonga Trust
Make some notes around your answer to this question

Will you consult with groups of women directly in your policy process?

If you choose to consult with women directly, here are some things to consider:

  • Consult with women as women. Be specific that you are consulting women to understand the experience of women. If women are consulted because they fit the demographic of other informants (e.g. being a migrant or Māori or rural or an engineer etc.) they will be wearing that hat and are less likely to volunteer gendered information.
  • Provide safe ways for women to have their say e.g. women should not have to disclose personal information to give their opinion on policy.
  • Look for women outside of Wellington: Wellington women are not representative of ‘NZ women’, tending, for instance, to be more likely to be in full time paid work.
  • Women are more likely be a primary caregiver so childcare may be an issue. Arranging for childcare or finding times that suit mothers’ availability is more likely to increase attendance.
  • Consider women at different ages and stages. Women of different age groups and cultures can have different perspectives and values. These may impact on acceptability and social license of a policy. Be aware that one woman from a culture does not represent all.

Prompts for questions in consultation include:

  • Barriers to access services, barriers as a result of a gendered role.  
  • Impact of competing responsibilities (e.g. unpaid care versus paid work)
  • Safety concerns
  • Household and family resource distribution
  • Is change needed?
  • What should government’s role be?
  • What should government’s concern be?
  • As a woman how have you experienced…
  • As a mother how have you…
  • As a carer…

As the situation of women is not static, you should seek to understand new ways of doing things and emerging trends such as shared care, shared parental leave, flexible working etc.

Make some notes around your answer to this question.
Example: Rebuilding Christchurch after the earthquakes

Bringing gender into engagement and collaboration was key to success. The Ministry convened a Canterbury Women in Construction Working Group (the Working Group) which worked to increase the numbers of women working in construction in Canterbury. Participating organisations included the construction industry, government and business organisations, training organisations, Te Rūnanga o Ngai Tāhu, and the National Association of Women in Construction.

Completing Step 4

As you consider your responses to the questions above, you may want to capture your thinking in the downloadable worksheet below.

Download the worksheet