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The gender huddle has started discussions on the KM4dev site here:

from Wikipedia: a huddle is when a team gathers together, usually in a tight circle, to strategise, motivate or celebrate


The initial contributions of the people that joined the KM4Dev gender huddle so fare are quite diverse. It seems you can look at gender and knowledge management from a variety of angles. Presuming we want to strategise, motivate and celebrate, we need to look for some common ground, building on and drawing in the diversity we bring to the huddle.

Our motivation to join and our goals for the huddle are related to what we mean with, and why we engage with gender and with knowledge management. So after celebrating we are all huddled together in Brussels - which is something that deserves to be celebrated as such - we should probably start to explore what we actually mean when we use concepts like 'gender' and 'knowledge management'. As Sophia Huyer put it on the Ning: "Are we talking about how women and men develop and communicate knowledge differently? Are we talking about how women's views and knowledge are reflected or not in KM systems and KM4D systems?"

After mapping what we mean and seek, we can find common ground and strategise.

Exploring and mapping

Dorine Plantenga - a trainer and advisor on gender issues - provides a practical approach that may help get some conceptual clarity regarding gender. To quote her: Gender is an organising principle of social life, connected to other principles like class, race, age, ethnicity, etc. As an organising principle it ‘acts’ in all spheres of social life, in families, in communities ,in organisations, etc. As such gender is a tool for analysis that helps us to formulate questions and possibly strategies on the following levels:

• The activities as performed by women and men. Their tasks, roles, responsibilities
• The (expected) behaviour of women and men, their acting, speaking, clothing, etc
• The (power) relations between women and men, women and women, men and men
• The degree in which women and men have access to and control over resources, rights and voice
• The self image of women and men

Dorine emphasises that the concept of gender ONLY gets a specific ‘meaning’ when it is linked to a vision. That is how it gets its ideological and political loading. For instance the concept of gender will be ‘coloured’ by an organisational vision, that ‘wants to reduce inequalities’, to ‘challenge injustices’ and ‘to promote universal values and equity’.

Knowledge management is a no less confusing concept. According to wikipedia KM comprises a range of practices used in an organisation to identify, create, represent, distribute and enable adoption of insights and experiences. Such insights and experiences comprise knowledge, either embodied in individuals or embedded in organisational processes or practice

Most of us would probably not limit KM to practices in an organization but look at it from a broader perspective including informal networks. Some may narrow down the practices to the ones involving ICT's; similarly different levels of importance may be adhered to embodied and embedded knowledge. Finaly in our own practice we may put a different emphasis on the various verbs (from 'identify' via 'distribute'to 'enable adoption'). Actually if you look at how KM4Dev identifies itself you will see it distinguishes between knowledge management and knowledge sharing.

Using the different levels that Dorine identifies, maybe we should try to actually visualize the various conceptual and practical linkages between gender and knowledge management.

Learning from each other what we mean when we talk about knowledge management and gender will help us to share experiences. And sharing experiences will help us understand what we mean and what we pursue. That means we need a proces that helps us to do both simultaneously without mixing it up.

The following experiences have being brought in to the circle sofar (in no particular order)

- mainstreaming gender in organization in general
- mainstreaming gender in development programs
- gender in media
- gender in value chains
- promoting learning and a community of practice on gender in value chains
- gender and ICTs
- gender in knowledge transfer

Summary of our discussion

Sophie Treinen(FAO) and Rosien Herweijer (EUFORIC) coordinated the gender huddles and tackle the importance of gender in KM/ KS. The discussion in the huddle gave the opportunity to think about the characteristics of gender and/ in KM. Gender can be so invisible, even when it is being done well - just like KM/S itself. It is enabling, makes work better and more effective, but it is hard to find out what is happening, we don't report on it well, and it would be great to share some ideas about how we could improve the reporting of gender in projects and activities that do not have a 'gender' focus or name.

The other aspect - of gender in KM/S - was also interesting and we talked a bit about the processes and questions that can be asked to understand the gender, power and other differences in the way people use and access information. This is equally valid whether we are working in a rural setting or within large organizations on KM/S, learning or information access issues.

The issues raised were about which methodologies, technologies to use and what to take into account into the process.
Literacy, space, time, interlocutor are elements to carefully consider when paying attention to gender in KM/KS.
The ideal team is composed of a woman and a man as both will look at things in with another perspective.
In the field, cellular phone, radio, face to face meetings, television soap opera, video, pictures are appropriate means of communication which allow participation of both men and women.

First identify what you want to know from whom and then choose the methodology.

KM/S and gender are about power relationships.
Gender and KM/S are all about Empowerment, Power relationship, Behaviors and attitudes (mindset, posture, openness, acceptance, respect), accepting and celebrating the difference – integration into other thins and dynamics.

To develop into a relationship it is important to invest in dialogue, resource and time.
Mapping communication behaviors and power analysis are necessary to understand the situation.
Ask the right question for information gathering.
The criteria for the channels, tools and technology are:
• Trust (of the source the broker or facilitator,
• Reliability of the information source,
• Accessibility using appropriate methodology and tools,
• and find the benefit for the people

The link to the summary as text and pictures is available here:

The videos of the discussion is available on You Tube

at for the introduction

and for the processes of KS and gender and

Planning and Timing

The discussion took place in October 2009 in Brussels, during KM4Dev 2009 annual meeting.

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