CCP staff member Jarret Cassaniti attended FHI360’s Gender360 Summit in Washington, DC last month. He shares his experience facilitating a discussion at the Summit’s gender lounge.
At FHI360’s 2015 Gender360 Summit I was introduced to two knowledge management tools: gender lounges and mind mapping. While I was familiar with the concept behind each and had used similar tools (knowledge cafés and network mapping), it was exciting to try something new. The topic I facilitated at the lounge last year focused on key populations. This year, the topic was on knowledge management’s relationship with gender.
The idea of a gender lounge is “to encourage and facilitate an interactive, dynamic session for Summit participants to discuss and explore some of the most pressing and interesting issues” as it relates to gender and development. The optimal output of each lounge is a mind map. A mind map is a diagram used to visually organize information. It is often created around a single concept, drawn as an image in the center of a blank landscape page, to which associated representations of ideas such as images, words and parts of words are added. Major ideas are connected directly to the central concept, and other ideas branch out from those.
Attendees at table #29 included a communicator with USAID’s Economic Analysis and Data Services, two policy analysts and advocates with international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), a consultant focusing on inclusive development, and an executive at an education accelerator.
I started the lounge by sharing K4Health’s definition of knowledge management and the knowledge management cycle. Then, I asked some guiding questions to get the discussion started:
- What are or should be the goals of your organization that can help advance KM and gender equality?
- What are the major challenges to doing so?
With these topics in mind, the group dove headfirst into a discussion about data, indicators, and from whom and how evidence about gender is gathered, interpreted, shared, and acted on. There was broad recognition that programs are often only as good as the data they collect. Good data is dependent on having appropriate indicators developed in collaboration with traditionally disenfranchised stakeholders.
After data is collected, the group discussed the importance of rapid interpretation and accessible feedback to the communities who provided it. The importance of focusing on SDG #5, its 9 targets and 14 indicators extended to taking action since what gets measured often dictates the direction programs take.
Although the one and one-half hour discussion was not as linear as I’ve described, and the map we created paled in comparison to the sample map shared in the gender lounge guidelines, the mind mapping concept worked.
Given the broad nature of KM, my expectations at the beginning of the lounge were scattered; I wasn’t sure what direction the conversation would take but am happy our collective mind focused on data. I had prepared to talk about producing gender-sensitive publications, promoting KM role models, closing the gender digital divide, and examining gender related power dynamics related to knowledge sharing. Perhaps these topics will be brought up and discussed at the 2017 Gender360 Summit.