What Is GALS At Scale?
Gender Action Learning for Sustainability at Scale (GALSatScale) is a community-led empowerment methodology that can be adapted to different cultural and organisational contexts – including communities where no organisation exists, cooperatives of varying sizes, private commercial companies and NGOs and donor agencies. It can be adapted for any issue including: livelihoods, food security, financial services, value chain development, conflict resolution, governance, health, reproductive rights and climate change.
GALS develops participatory visioning and planning skills and strengthens social networks for women and men at all levels, based on the generic Participatory Action Learning System (PALS) methodology. But GALS focuses specifically on developing new visions for relationships between women and men as equal human beings, and implementing changes in gender inequalities in resources and power. GALS is also mainstreamed in organisations and with multiple stakeholders to increase effectiveness of any development process.
Through developing self-motivated structures for pyramid peer sharing and integrating into existing activities of implementing public or private agencies it can empower many thousands of people to improve their lives and communities at relatively low cost.
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GALS is not ‘one methodology’ or set of tools. It is a change philosophy based on underlying principles of social and gender justice, inclusion and mutual respect. In particular it promotes women’s human rights based on the United Nations Convention on Elimination of ALL Forms of Discrimination Against Women:
- Right 1: freedom from violence
- Right 2: equality of property ownership
- Right 3: equality of decision-making
- Right 4: equality of work and leisure
- Right 5: freedom of thought and association
CEDAW is an international agreement signed by most governments and establishes that women have the same human rights as men. Experience with GALS has shown that these are all key concerns of women in all cultures, and can also be achieved in ways that benefit men as part of a mutual empowerment process.
Each GALS process is unique. The implementation process and specific versions of the diagram tools used are designed with women and men community ‘champions’, an experienced GALS facilitator and a core of implementing staff/local leaders. The local adaptation is then upscaled through a combination on community-level pyramid peer training, organisational integration in existing activities and inter-organisational exchange.
Implementation is currently conceived in the following three phases at community-level:
- Phase 1: Catalyst Phase 0-6 months working with 20-60 champions to develop and adapt the simple catalyst tools and pyramid peer sharing structures.
- Phase 2: Skills, leadership and governance strengthening after 3-6 months reviewing achievements (red ripe fruits) on the original diagrams, introducings more advanced versions of the basic diagram tools (eg livelihoods, health, reproductive rights) and for leadership and organisational governance. It starts to integrate the methodology and develop simple monitoring.
- Phase 3: Annual Review and Sustainability Plan reviews aggregated information on gender justice and other achievements. It agrees a sustainability plan including certification of the best champions to be paid for upscaling in other regions, robust monitoring and documentation system, training of staff to mainstream the methodology and local and/or commercial funding for upscaling and policy advocacy.
Parallel to the community-level process, and led by it, are:
- Organisational mainstreaming to support and document the process and integrate the outcomes into improvement in the services and interventions offered by the implementing agencies.
- Multistakeholder change movement to link stakeholders in private sector companies, government and other agencies to make the process both sustainable and enable significant gains in wealth creation, development and social justice.
Diagrams and visual communication are increasingly important in a fast moving world. Drawing and diagramming are important skills for creativity and innovation at all levels. They are not only for children or people who cannot read and write. ‘Sketch-noting’ and mindmapping are now common tools in higher level education and creative brain-storming in boardrooms of global companies.
GALS develops ideas from information graphics, concept mapping and graphic design to facilitate clarity of concepts and analysis, innovation and equal communication between stakeholders from those without formal education to the most powerful.
GALS adapts four basic diagram types:
- Road Journeys
These tools are adapted and sequenced in specific ways, depending on the nature of the issue and process.
GALS facilitation aims not only to teach diagram tools and skills, but to catalyse discussion, awareness and motivation ‘from within’ the participants themselves so that they own the change process and are able to facilitate themselves.
Key principles are:
- start with visions and the positive
- everyone can be a leader
- action from Day 1
- inclusion: everyone has a right to be listened to and respected
- facilitation from the back
- MAKE IT FUN!! or people will want to be paid to come back
In GALS Monitoring and Evaluation is one part of a bigger Gender Action Learning System. GALS brings together different stakeholders in an empowering learning process, rather than simply checking boxes for donors. It combines:
- Individual tracking of empowerment process/progress towards visions and action commitments in notebook diaries at each level: communities, private sector, organisation staff.
- Participatory quantitative monitoring and aggregation by groups and associations for collective planning.
- Participatory review by the stakeholders to decide what to do with the information
- Qualitative and multimedia methods by stakeholders, NGOs and/or external agencies for deepening understanding of processes