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Innovators told us that gender discrimination, gender-based violence and women’s low status contribute to poor maternal mental and physical health, impede mothers in their parenting, and create risks to childhood development. Innovators also spoke about how low rates of father involvement in caring for the young children can impede healthy early child development.

By deepening understanding of gender dynamics, innovators have altered the design and implementation of their innovation.

Grand Challenges Canada (GCC) is committed to advancing gender equality. GCC's Gender Equality Portal includes a suite of modules to support incorporation of gender considerations into your applications and innovations, a white paper with more in-depth analysis of how GCC integrates gender into its programs, and additional links and resources.


To help guide your gender analysis, here is a list of sample questions from GCC adapted specifically for Saving Brains innovators. 

For example, innovators from Vietnam’s Learning Clubs and India’s Stepping Stones increased father participation in parenting sessions by including videos and pictures of fathers caring for children. These innovators report that after participating in parenting sessions, fathers contributed more to childcare activities such as bathing and playing with their child.

On the symptoms of unequal gender relations >

some symptoms of [unequal gender relations] include the continued practice of female seclusion, very low female labour force participation rates, a large gender gap in literacy rates, extremely restricted female property rights, strong gender preference, widespread neglect of female children and a drastic separation of [a] married woman from her natal family.

Stepping Stones

Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Sciences


On gender inequality's adverse impact on early childhood development >

Gender equality and gender-based violence are only two of the risk factors related to women’s mental health problems which have adverse consequences on child development. But together they constitute … the biggest risk factors. When we developed the Learning Clubs project, we felt gender equality had to be addressed directly in the intervention.

Jane Fisher, Learning Clubs

Research and Training Center for Community Development and Monash University Partnership


Check out our Thematic Brief on integrating gender perspectives into early childhood development programs.

Check out our case brief featuring 3 innovators working to decolonize ECD programming, engage with fathers and promote gender equality in diverse settings.

Watch a short clip with Aisha Yousafzai on why gender matters for early childhood development, exploring issues such as income, early education, play, stereotypes, female labour work force, and public policy.

How Gender Affects ECD

IDIA's Toward Bridging Gender Equality and Innovation report explores why and how gender strategies can be embedded in innovations, with a useful tool identifying key areas for consideration according to your innovation's scaling stage.

Explore approaches Saving Brains innovators have taken to advance gender equality:

Skill Building

How skill development for moms and dads improves ECD outcomes.

Cultural Norms

Shifting gender stereotypes in cultural norms.

Formal Marginalization

Identifying and addressing underserved female populations.

Engaging Men

Steps innovators took to directly engage fathers.

Measuring Impact

Using data to measure gender equality impact.

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