As part of Trilateral’s work for PREPARE – which focuses on identifying any vulnerabilities children may face when their parents are part of violent extremist networks – consortium partners are guided by an analytical tool used by the Government of Canada, called Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+).
The History of Data Bias
In her book “Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men” author Caroline Criado Perez provides striking examples of how gender-blindness in various industries has enabled inequalities to persist in “hidden places.” For instance, women in Britain are 50% more likely to be misdiagnosed following a heart attack. Why? Because heart failure trials generally use male participants who tend to experience different symptoms. Clinical trials and medical training also lack racial as well as ethnic diversity: A 2020 analysis of dermatology textbooks in the US found that the percentage of images of dark skin ranged from only 4 to 18 percent. This both drastically increases the risk of undiagnosed diseases and conditions in Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC). Another example from Perez’ book states that women involved in car collisions are nearly 50% more likely to be seriously hurt. This is because cars are designed around the body of “Reference Man” given men are more likely to be involved in a car crash. And Google Home is 70% more likely to understand men because speech-recognition software is trained on recordings of male voices. This particularly gender-blindness in tech culture produces what Criado Perez calls the “one-size-fits-men” approach.
The Importance of GBA+
This is where Gender-based Analysis Plus comes in. Gender-based Analysis Plus, or GBA+, is a tool the Canadian Government uses to plan and design initiatives and programmes – all Canadian departments and agencies have committed to this. In a nutshell, GBA+ is an analytical method to assess the potential impacts of policies, programmes, services, and other initiatives on diverse groups of women, men, and people with other gender identities.
Here are 2 key aspects about GBA+:
- GBA+ does not only consider gender. Instead, it takes into account a range of intersecting identity factors (such as age, sexual orientation, disability, education, language, geography, culture and income) – which is what the “plus” stands for.
- GBA+ can be used and applied by every professional in order to consider the impact of projects – which is something we often do already, but in a potentially less structured way. The main objective is to explore and understand the changing realities and inequalities of diverse groups of people: How do different groups of people experience projects and policies differently? How does the interaction between various characteristic influence the way somebody might experience a government initiative?
Applying GBA+ in Research
But how does this work in practice? It all starts by asking yourself multiple questions which will help you identify and challenge your own as well as your project’s, policy’s, or intervention’s assumptions, such as:
- Are there specific non-target groups who may be affected?
- Will some groups be excluded from benefits?
- What are some possible unintended consequences?
- What are anticipated socio-economic repercussions?
In addition, it is important to consult others to get a more comprehensive picture of how different groups may experience the initiative – this can be intended beneficiaries, stakeholders, experts, and so on. For instance, your project may envision regular meetings with beneficiaries. Consultations with beneficiaries may shed light on potential barriers experienced by a single parent with childcare obligations (requiring the meeting to be held between certain hours of the workday) and a person with a mobility disability (who may be concerned about location, accessibility, and walking distance requirement).
As part of your research stage, you will want to gather relevant qualitative and quantitative data to identify all the populations or groups targeted by the project; and to describe and measure the possible impact of the project. This is also where using gender disaggregated data is crucial as it situates diverse population groups in their social and economic contexts and shows relations to other groups of men and women. For example, data could be broken down by age, race, ethnicity, income, education, etc. The following analysis will then enable you to discern if there are differential impacts on various groups of people, to explore the potential consequences and to consider recommendations to mitigate potential negative consequences. Without gender disaggregated data, for instance, the statistics taken from Criado Perez’ book would have gone unnoticed.
Trilateral is part of the PREPARE consortium which will be guided by GBA+ throughout the project cycle. Funded by the European Commission, the main objective of PREPARE is to identify the vulnerabilities and stigmas children may face when their parents are part of violent extremist networks. PREPARE will run for 18-months and follows a human-rights, rule-of-law, and gender-informed approach. All consortium partners are encouraged to take a short course on GBA+ provided by the Government of Canada. As a consortium it is important to us to acknowledge and better understand the various intersecting identity factors that may influence whether a project has a positive impact or not on its intended beneficiaries. The advantage of GBA+ is that it can be easily used by everyone involved in a project such as PREPARE; starting by identifying and questioning your own potential biases, gathering disaggregated data, and consulting external experts to better understand the impacts of your work.
For more information, contact our team.