In this step, you will consider how gender differences can be incorporated into your policy options.
How does each option address the issues for groups of women and men raised in Step 2?
Take your thinking from Step 2 about inequalities between groups of women and men in terms of their resources and their access to various resources (work, money, power, security, education, mobility, time, health and wellbeing).
Consider your thinking against the policy options you’re identifying, working your thinking into any criteria you’re developing to assess policy options if possible. There are always trade-offs in making a decision about which option to recommend: gender analysis assists in ensuring all issues have been considered, and all impacts identified. Long-term versus short-term objectives need to be considered in your options, as well as social and economic benefits and fiscal impacts.
Keep in mind that the goals and outcomes of your policy program or project can either perpetuate, or overcome, existing inequalities between groups of men and women. Will the proposed policy reinforce existing gendered roles and pressures? For example, will compliance likely fall more heavily on women (e.g. relying on the expectation that women will ‘naturally’ take on traditionally feminine roles such as caring for elderly parents and children)?
An important issue in analysing options is whether to analyse impacts on the basis of families or individuals. Analysis based on a family unit or whānau is important because it recognises that women, men and children live in inter-dependent relationships. It can also obscure gender differences and can lead to assumptions about equity within that family unit. For example, it may assume distribution of income within the family unit, which may in fact not occur. So it may be necessary to look at the issues from both perspectives (noting that there are still many gaps in data at the family or whānau level compared to data on individuals and households).
Are there groups of women and men that may be indirectly affected by your proposed changes?
Consider whether there are groups of women or men who will be indirectly affected by the different policy options you are proposing. The impact of any law, policy or programme may be direct or indirect.
More info on direct and indirect impacts
- Direct impact: When your policy will be directly changing groups of people’s access to resources (e.g. employment, benefits, etc.) Policy changes are expected to have a direct effect on the status and position of women and men.
- Indirect impact: When regulating or planning measures affect the provision of certain resources or services (e.g. regulation of water quality), behind which groups of people are the ultimate beneficiaries (farmers, recreational users, etc.). Even though the policy is not directly targeted at groups of people, they will be affected by it.
What changes can be made to your options to improve outcomes for women and reduce or eliminate any negative impacts?
What changes can you make to your options to improve the impacts for women, considering the inequalities you’ve identified? Can the unequal distribution of income between women and men be improved? How can women’s safety be improved? How can gender segregation of the labour market be reduced?
Where do opportunities, or entry points, for change exist? And how can they best be used? Government action is not the only option. Consider the role of the private sector and the Non-Government Organisation (NGO) sector.
Example: Gender and the annual Minimum Wage Review
The annual Minimum Wage review is an example of policy work which incorporates gender analysis into the policy options it considers.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) break down minimum wage earners into groups to consider those affected by the policy. In the 2018 report they identify about 60 percent of minimum wage earners were women and 67 percent of minimum wage earners aged 25–64 were women. They consider that women are more likely to be part-time workers and work in industries which receive minimum wages (such as hospitality) and that women appear to receive minimum wages at later ages than men. Women are one of the groups that MBIE consider for unintended consequences (indirect impact) of minimum wage rises such as workers losing their employment (displacement). In considering adjustments to minimum wages, MBIE create vignettes (including low income families) to explore impacts.
Example: Rebuilding Christchurch after the earthquakes
The Canterbury Women in Construction Working Group brought gender into their options by thinking about what opportunities, or entry points, for change existed and how to best use those opportunities in the Christchurch rebuild. Based on research findings, the Working Group decided to increase the visibility of women in the rebuild. The phrase, “you can’t be what you can’t see” encapsulated their thinking about visibility.
Completing Step 3
As you consider your responses to the questions above, you may want to capture your thinking in the downloadable worksheet below.