Workshop Gender in ZEF: Sharing concepts and insights in development research

Workshop concept note

One of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and which cuts cross all of them, is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. This stems in part from the (sometimes difficult) lessons learned over decades from developmental programs, which lead to the recognition that sustainable development cannot be achieved without gender equality. Women’s movements, feminist contributions and academic research, have all contributed to a greater awareness and understanding of the role of gender inequalities in keeping individuals and societies impoverished and oppressed.

The ZEF Strategy 2021 – 2030 highlights the importance of identifying and anticipating inequality and dependencies, as well as designing approaches to eliminate social and political exclusion, lack of equitable opportunity and various forms of discrimination, including gender discrimination, in low income and emerging economy countries. ZEF plans to draw on its considerable experience gained over the last 10 to 15 years in innovative research methodologies, and impact orientation in several areas, including gender. This necessitates, among other things, engagement with critical debates on development, postcolonial approaches, and gender and intersectionality concerns.

The ZEF Gender Group (ZEF GG) initiated its activities in early 2020 with the aim to strengthen gender-sensitive research at ZEF and to promote interdisciplinary collaboration on gender issues among ZEF researchers. The Senior and Junior Researchers of the ZEF GG acknowledge that academia has an important role to play in the transformative process of achieving a world where everyone has equal access to rights and resources regardless of gender (gender equality). The ZEF GG believes that more research on the complexities of gender relationships is needed, as well as strong empirical evidences on how to eliminate gender inequalities and change social norms. In this vein, it is important to have a conversation on gender and gender-sensitive research among ZEF researchers, which is why we are organizing this workshop on “Gender in ZEF: sharing concepts and insights in development research”.

Far from evaluating conceptualizations and methodologies on gender-related research within ZEF research projects, this workshop will be a forum for sharing and engaging on what and how we are approaching the gender dimensions of research within the institute. The results of this workshop would be systematized, without specifying project names, but rather as general lessons learned.

The objectives of the workshop

Promote the gender-sensitive research among ZEF staff by exchanging and systematizing experiences, tools and methodological approaches on the integration of gender dimensions in research projects and doctoral theses.

Specific objectives are as follows:

  • Identify and map women- and gender-related studies and research at ZEF,
  • Identify and share research methodologies and tools on gender-sensitive research applied at ZEF,
  • Identify best practices and gaps in gender-sensitive research at ZEF,
  • Strengthen the work of the ZEF gender group by increasing the visibility of gender as a relevant research area,
  • Collect information towards a systematic summary on ZEF’s gender-sensitive research.


  • A working paper on ZEF’s gender sensitive research, including best practices and gaps (no names or projects will be specified).
  • A video systematising the event.


The workshop will take place on Thursday and Friday May 27-28, 2021 from 2 pm to 4.30 pm CEST. It is an internal event for ZEF staff; former staff and researchers working with ZEF are also welcome. Each day will initiate with a 15-minute introductory speech, followed by presentations and discussions among ZEF researchers.

We envisage from five to seven presentations during the first day, and 10 to 14 presentations in two parallel sessions during the second day, with 15-min break each day.


» Download Program (.pdf)

DAY 1. Thursday May 27: Gender in ZEF’s collaborative research projects.

This day is devoted to share experiences, concepts and methodologies steaming from ZEF collaborative research projects with other organizations in Germany and abroad. The presenters will focus on the following questions:

  1. What is understood by “gender” in your project/program?
  2. What is the importance of the gender dimensions in the topic at hand and how are/were they integrated in the project design?
  3. What methods did your team apply/is applying to capture the gender dimensions of the project?
  4. Is/was the project cycle (design of objectives and research questions, methodology, field-research, analysis, publications) consistently gender sensitive? Why, why not? (Obstacles, gaps, strengths).
  5. Was attention paid to research team composition and gender-sensitive language? Why? Why not?

14:00 – 14:10.    Welcome (Eva Youkhana (Acting Director / ZEF GG))
14:10 – 14:20.    Introduction to the ZEF Gender Group and outline of the workshop (Dennis Avilés (Senior Researcher / ZEF GG Coordinator))
14:20 – 14:35.    Gender in Sustainable Development: Nexus, trends and opportunities (Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg (Member of the ZEF’s International Advisory Board / AWARD Director))
14:35 – 14:50.    Gender Perspectives in Land Use Research: Thoughts and experiences from the LANUSNCON Project Team (Lisa Biber-Freudenberger (Junior Professor for Sustainable Development – Land Use Synergies and Conflicts / Senior Researcher))

14:50 – 15:00.    BREAK

15:00 – 15:15.    Short commentary on the pitfalls of using gender-sensitive information in quantitative development research (Jan Börner (Professor for Economics of Sustainable Land Use and Bioeconomy / Senior Researcher))
15:15 – 15:30.    Designing and implementing gender-sensitive research projects: experiences from NutriHAF and other research projects (Tina Beuchelt (Associated Senior Researcher / ZEF GG))
15:30 – 15:45.    Comparison and Reflection on Ethnographic Fieldwork by two female researchers in Asia (Anastasiya Shtaltovna (Parliamentary Centre, Canada/ ZEF Alumni))

15:45 – 16:00.    BREAK

16:00 – 16:15.    Empowerment of Girls and Women in Rural Pakistan: Migration, Decision-Making and Consciousness (Sundus Saleemi (Senior Researcher / ZEF GG))
16:15 – 16:30.    Final reflections and discussion

DAY 2: Friday May 28: Gender in Doctoral research projects.

This day is devoted to ZEF doctoral students and will focus on on-going or finished projects, particularly on their design, methodologies, analysis and publications as well as on field work experiences. The presenters will address the following questions:

  1. What is understood by “gender” in your project research?
  2. What are the gender dimensions of your research topic and how you understand gender in your analysis? (you can ask yourselves, for example, who benefits, who losses, who has access, who is taken into account, who is ignored, who is involved).
  3. How your project design (objectives, research questions and methodological approach) addresses the gender dimensions of your research?
  4. What strengths/obstacles did you find to design, implement and/or analyse your project in a gender-sensitive manner?
  5. Did the fieldwork present you with obstacles due to gender cultural biases either as researcher or in your attempt to reach women and men in the field?
  6. What would you need, if anything, to make your project more gender-sensitive for you and for the target groups?

14:00 – 14:15.    Challenges and opportunities for the inclusion of women in politics of Pakistan. A case study of career politicians from Pakistan Tehreek Insaf political party (Madiha Hussain (Junior Researcher / ZEF GG))
14:15 – 14:30.    Curriculum and Gender Relations in Secondary School Education in Pakistan. (Sofia Saleem (Junior Researcher / ZEF GG))
14:30 – 14:45.    The Stay-at-home paradox; urban narratives of domestic violence in the Central District of Honduras during COVID-19 (Maryoriet Rosales Salgado (Junior Researcher / ZEF GG))
14:45 – 15:00.    Intergenerational mobility: difference in the effect of mothers and fathers on the educational and occupational attainment of their children (Mekdim Dereje Regassa (Junior Researcher))

15:00 – 15:10.    BREAK

15:10 – 15:25.    Participation by Necessity: Female Labor Force Cohort Analysis in Pakistan (Hina Amber (Junior Researcher / ZEF GG))
15:25 – 15:40.    Gender gap in health outcomes (Emily Injete (Junior Researcher / ZEF GG))
15:40 – 15:55.    Womanitarianism: the representation of self and the Others in overlapping displacement context (Oyewole S. Oginni (Junior Researcher))

15:55 – 16:05.    BREAK

16:05 – 16:30.    Open discussion on conceptualizations of gender, methodological approaches and challenges, gender biases in the field and others suggested by Junior Researchers.


Presenters are required to submit a one to two-pagers summary answering the above-mentioned questions, which will be the basis of their presentations.


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