© Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen

Our Expertise and Services: Gender and Social Equity

© Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen

At Helvetas, we not only strive to promote broadly beneficial development but we also seek to work specifically with the most disadvantaged individuals and groups living in our partner countries. It is for this reason that gender equality and social equity is a cross-cutting theme in our organization.

Why gender and social equity matter


It is a fact that a person is more likely to be poor and vulnerable if the person is female and/or an indigenous member of an ethnic group, practices a minority religion, is from an isolated geographical area, was born into a low social status (caste, modern slavery), is young or elderly, identifies as LGBTQI+, or lives with a dis/ability or disease.

Poverty tends to be strongly correlated with being socially disadvantaged and marginalized– that is, experiencing discrimination, injustice, and powerlessness. These disparities are exacerbated in increasingly fragile contexts.  Addressing GSE systematically and systemically, requires a multi-dimensional, intersectional, intergenerational, and intercultural rights-based approach, which is informed and strategic, by leveraging and improving national, regional legal frameworks and international binding commitments.

The 2030 Development Agenda recognizes gender equality as integral to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For this reason, gender equality is mainstreamed across all goals and is a stand-alone goal, SDG 5. In tandem, SDG 10 prioritizes reducing Inequalities. Our operational GSE Policy principles, and program commitments contribute directly to these two goals. 

What we do

Helvetas strives towards a gender balanced, strongly socially aware and capable workforce. We are committed to integrating and monitoring gender in our policies, procedures, strategies, tools and our projects. In promoting gender equality and social equity in our local programs, we are also attentive to the example set by our partner organizations and by ourselves. Helvetas seeks to partner with organizations that share its broad organizational values. We strengthen the gender and social equity capacities of our partners.

The GSE Diamonds provide benchmarks and actions for better managing our physical spaces and assets, our financial and most importantly our human resources. Identifying and improving means for achieving our GSE Diamonds is an ongoing process.  Ultimately our working conditions and environment serve to enhance the wellbeing, sense of belonging, opportunity for growth, and optimal productivity of all employees, interns, and volunteers’.  We are committed to ‘Walking our Talk’ in the values we stand for and the gender equality and social equity we commit ourselves to.  To learn what GSE Diamonds are, visit here in English, Spanish or French.

Our Helvetas Gender and Social Equity Policy was elaborated through a careful and wide consultation process within the organization and with key partners. It informs our working principles and approaches with the primary and secondary stakeholders, system actors and partners we interact and collaborate with. Download it in English, Spanish or French.

Our Helvetas GSE strategy 2021-2024: Transforming Inequality can be downloaded here in English, Spanish or French. It frames, guides and reinforces our principles, approaches and commitments.

Our GSE Marker, supports the integration of GSE in our organizational processes and program/projects from design to evaluation and learning, for quality assurance.  The GSE Marker can be downloaded in English, Spanish and French.

Based on and to complement our GSE Marker, we have produced a Transversal Theme Navigation Tool, to help assess, analyse and consider how best to address topics such as conflict sensitivity, climate change, advocacy and partnership in the contexts where work and in our theories of change and interventions. 

To learn more about our different GSE initiatives, achievements and ways of working, you can refer to our GSE capability statement.

© Helvetas / Nicolas Morand
Mozambique: Improving people's living and health conditions through the participation of men and women in local governance processes © Helvetas / Nicolas Morand
© Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen
Guatemala: Women participate in local democratic governance © Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen
© Helvetas / Patrick Rohr
Ethiopia: Empower youth who thereby will escape the “low/no skill – no job – no income” poverty trap. © Helvetas / Patrick Rohr
© Helvetas / Jonathan Widmer
Vietnam: Improving the livelihood of ethnic minorities through community-based tourism. © Helvetas / Jonathan Widmer
© Helvetas
Laos: Fostering a new generation of legal professionals to become advocates of women’s rights. © Helvetas
© Helvetas
Tanzania: KUWAKI - Women as small-scale entrepreneurs. Women empowerment through irrigated vegetable production and marketing. © Helvetas

What we offer

  • Expertise in mainstreaming gender and social equity in strategy, programme and project planning
  • Design and planning of feasibility studies and assessments
  • Gender and social equity capacity development and backstopping: project and program backstopping; development of training manuals and material; creation of innovative tools; facilitation of thematic workshops; coaching; trainings; capitalization of experiences; knowledge management tools and platforms
  • Support in integrating gender and social equity in monitoring systems, mid-term reviews, end evaluations and impact assessments
  • Geographical coverage: Our advisors in the Global South and in Switzerland support projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America

Our gender focal persons

As part of our commitment to integrating gender in our programs, local Helvetas gender focal persons are key. These women and men are committed to developing their own capacities and that of our partner countries’ teams and partners. They mitigate conflicts and identify gaps and required resources needed to address gender and equity disparities in our work. Gender focal persons are supported by our organizational gender and social equity focal person. Lessons learned are systematically shared within the organization.

Contact our coordinator

Selected projects

Helvetas develops and guides projects. To be sustainable, they must be locally embedded. We support our partners in effectively organizing projects and processes and assist local authorities to better assume their responsibilities.

© Helvetas / Patrick Rohr
Laos Private Sector Development

Good Tea Fetches Good Prices

© Helvetas
Nepal WASH & Water Governance

A Fair Share of the Water

Guatemala Private Sector Development

Women´s Agro-entrepreneurship in the Highlands

© Helvetas / Christian Bobst
Kosovo Education and Vocational Skills

Jobs for Young People

© Helvetas
Tajikistan Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

Justice for All

Albania Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

Building Confidence in Local Government

© Helvetas / Patrick Rohr
Bosnia-Herzegovina Private Sector Development

Making Markets and Jobs

Climate & Disaster Resilience

New Strategies to Adapt to Climate Change

Tanzania Private Sector Development

Climate-Smart Organic Cotton

© Helvetas
Guatemala Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

Entrepreneurship in the Guatemalan Highlands

Rasht Valley Tajikistan | © Helvetas
Tajikistan Gender & Social Equity

Improved Nutrition and Health for Rural Families

 Mother with daughter preparing food | © Patrick Rohr
Laos Climate & Disaster Resilience

Connecting for Improved Nutrition

© Helvetas / Arben Llapashtica
Armenia, Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Moldova, North Macedonia, Serbia, Ukraine, Montenegro Education and Vocational Skills

Building Economies Where All Can Prosper