Improving the Quality of Humanitarian Assistance: The Role of Gender Equality & Systems for Program Quality Assurance
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AbstractGendered habitus and the invisible hand of patriarchy determine the hazards, vulnerabilities, and capacities of every individual; not only does it define our everyday interactions and rationalizations but also the very structures and systems within which we operate. Hegemonic masculinity is imbued within every aspect of society. What does it mean to be masculine? What does it mean to be feminine? What actions can each sub-group reasonably engage in without public dismissal?
Inequalities are embodied within the personal and within the institutions designed to address those inequalities. I put forward a conceptual framework describing the complex yet interconnected relationship between gender, organizations, and humanitarian program quality. I draw upon Donabedian’s healthcare quality framework and Nancy Krieger’s ecosocial model to present a conceptual model for quality improvement within organizations. Distinct from other frameworks, this blends features from organizational change theory, feminist theory, theory on measuring healthcare quality and ecosocial perspectives on disease distribution. It calls for attention to the interconnected nature of humanitarian organizational behavior, humanitarian interventions, and accordingly, population health outcomes.
By utilizing an embedded mixed methods approach, I assessed the current status of program quality assurance and gender equality within Concern Worldwide Ethiopia and proposed initial interventions for organizational improvement. Collaborative efforts with staff at all levels revealed significant gaps in Concern Ethiopia’s approach to gender mainstreaming and current systems for program quality assurance. The assessment also revealed several strengths in the areas of staff commitment and investment in the change process. Findings from two participatory mixed methods assessments were utilized to devise initial points of intervention. These were the first National Program Quality Assurance Workshop and the development of a 3-5-year Organizational Gender Strategy. Findings and proposed interventions offer a roadmap for other international humanitarian non-governmental organizations seeking to enhance gender equality and program quality within their agencies.
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