Gender, Environments and Marginalized voices:
GEMs Framework

The GEMs framework is the interrelations between:

  • Gender equality

  • Environments

  • Marginalized voices


The GEMs framework is grounded in intersectional theory and is another way in which we can view complexity. The practical guide "Inclusive, Systemic Evaluation for Gender, Environments and Marginalized voices" (ISE4GEMs) uses the GEMs dimensions as a focal lens to refine analysis on issues of power and oppression that matter to the stakeholders and participants impacted by an intervention. 

The dimensions represent fields of knowledge, or knowledge systems. The nature of the content varies. But, rarely are the issues and concepts found within a GEMs dimension siloed concepts. The GEMs dimensions overlap, and we can see interconnections across them. 


Gender equality

We understand Gender as  a continuum that goes beyond biological and binary determinations. Gendered attributes, opportunities and relationships are socially constructed, Gender equality is defined broadly to refer to women and men, transgendered and intersex identities, captured partly in terms such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and intersex (LGBTQI).


We use the term environments to capture both human-made and natural socioecological landscapes and systems. The effects of climate change and resource depletion are exacerbating a number of game-changing dynamics. These include energy infrastructure challenges, water scarcities, land disputes, soil  degradation,  slum  urbanism  and food insecurity, all of which need appropriate consideration in terms of climate change.

Marginalized voices

We capture marginalization in human but also in non-human voices. Unfortunately, groups of people and their attributes  are pushed to the margins of society and assigned lesser importance, discriminated against or excluded. Moreover, there is the need to pay more attention to non-human ‘voices’ such as flora and fauna, culture, languages, ideas, etc. 


Intersectionality and intersectional analysis provide the foundational understanding that the GEMs dimensions. The degree of importance of one dimension or another, and the nature of their intersection, will vary within different contexts and at different times and spaces. For example, not all women experience the same oppression, not all members of a marginalized group experience the same marginalization, and not all aspects of the environment and being harmed and advocated for at the same rates.

Why the GEMs?

Commissioned as part of UN Women’s mission to advance approaches and methodologies for the evaluation of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the context of the SDGs, the ISE4GEMs sought to address the issue of gender-responsive and transformative evaluation. Authors, Anne Stephens and Ellen Lewis also conducted theoretical and applied research into feminist systems thinking and gendered systemic analysis both of which identified the need for intersectional analysis of gender with environmental and other forms of human marginalization in evaluation research. Each theoretical or evaluation influence in the ISE4GEMs contains some piece that is consistent and aligned with the foundation of gender-responsive evaluation, feminist systems thinking and gendered systemic analysis. From this review, the GEMs dimensions provide evaluators a wide set of new, intersectional combinations in which to undertake their analysis.