Take Five: A pioneering action plan on gender mainstreaming at the Ministry of Social Development


Muna Al Rfou is the Director of the Gender Unit at the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD). With the support of UN Women and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), MoSD launched its first action plan to effectively mainstream gender equality and women’s empowerment into national systems and policies. Al Rfou shares how strengthening institutional capacities will enhance services for all communities.

Take Five_Muna Al Rfou_UNW Ye Ji Lee
Muna Al Rfou, the Director of the Gender Unit at the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD), at the Gender Sensitive Monitoring and Evaluation Training. Photo: UN Women/ Ye Ji Lee

How did MoSD build institutional capacities on gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEWE)?

MoSD, with the support of UN Women, implemented an institutional analysis of the Ministry’s human resources and end-users experience of MoSD’s services. This gender assessment highlighted how GEWE was not systematically integrated into MoSD’s work and training programmes.

In order to address this gap, two main teams were established: an institutional capacity development task force and a core team of representatives from all directorates who received technical training on gender mainstreaming. A training-of-trainers manual was developed as a result of this experience. This is the first of its kind in the region and will help to strengthen capacities at MoSD even further.

Ultimately, these efforts culminated in the development of a gender-responsive strategy for MoSD and a gender-mainstreaming policy – which is unique in Jordan and builds on relevant national principles and commitments on GEWE. As a result, gender-mainstreaming is now documented, equally distributed and supported at all levels within the Ministry, including in high-level decision-making processes.

Why gender-sensitive monitoring and evaluation is a priority for MoSD?

MoSD is the main national institution providing protection services for survivors of gender-based violence, juveniles, children and people with disabilities. Hence, promoting gender-sensitive monitoring and evaluation is considered a key strategy to ensure reaching the most vulnerable and marginalized groups, as well as to address any gap in service delivery across Jordan.

How gender mainstreaming is being integrated in MoSD’s monitoring and evaluation framework?

Under the leadership of the Minister, a dedicated training is being rolled out involving more than 70 focal points from different directories and functions of the MoSD. The programme is very participatory. Colleagues can share real examples from their day-to-day work to explain how they are advancing the integration of GEWE in the monitoring and evaluation of the Ministry’s services and policies.

The timing of this initiative was also important, as colleagues were working on the development of MoSD’s gender-sensitive strategic plan and were able to benefit from the knowledge acquired to provide substantial inputs to that process. Moving forward, we hope to expand this initiative and to develop a job coaching programme to support all monitoring and evaluation focal points in mainstreaming gender into their work. 

What change is gender mainstreaming bringing into MOSD’s policies, plans and service delivery?

Once operationalized, the gender mainstreaming policy will serve as the cornerstone of MoSD’s action. It will support taking corrective measures and ensuring that all plans and activities are going in the right direction. Towards this end, the Ministry is already reviewing all policies and strategies with a gender lens, including its services in support of survivors of gender-based violence. The working environment within the Ministry is also more conducive, with more women applying for positions that were traditionally held by men, including at the managerial level.

Five years from now, what do you expect gender mainstreaming within MOSD will achieve?

With gender gaps within the Ministry now being addressed, the next step would be to enhance services provided at the field level and to enhance human rights indicators at the international level. This will require expanding the capacities of the Gender Department. Within five years, we aim to introduce gender-sensitive financial resource planning as a model that can be applied to other Ministries as well.