Gender Norms Consultancy


POSITION TITLEGender Norms Consultancy
POSITION LOCATIONRemote (worldwide)
REPORTS TOGender Equality and Social Inclusion Advisor 
EXPECTED START DATEFebruary 15th, 2022


WUSC (World University Service of Canada) is a Canadian non-profit organization working to create a better world for all young people. We bring together a diverse network of students, volunteers, schools, governments, and businesses who share this vision. Together, we develop solutions in education, economic opportunities, and empowerment to overcome inequality and exclusion for youth around the world, particularly young women and young refugees. WUSC currently works in 25 countries across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, with an annual budget of approximately CAD $40 million. We have over 90 staff in our Ottawa office, and over 200 people overseas implementing 16 development projects in collaboration with donors such as Global Affairs Canada, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the African Development Bank. Volunteering for development is one of the important ways in which WUSC pursues its mission. WUSC’s Volunteer Cooperation Program (VCP) has ambitious targets to mobilize hundreds of skilled Canadian volunteers each year to support partners in developing countries where we are working to advance gender equality and facilitate economic opportunities for poor and marginalized young people, especially young women and refugees. 

As outlined in our Gender, Age, and Diversity Policy and Guidance (2018), WUSC  is  committed to taking an intersectional approach including gender, age, and diversity to advance gender equality and social inclusion. These considerations are key in our policies, programs, and practices, to enable us better understand and act on the root causes of inequality.

WUSC’s programming is based on the key assumption that harmful gendered social norms limit access to quality education and work for young people, especially young women and other disadvantaged groups. Gendered social norms shape and govern behavior not only of young people but also of those who make decisions that affect marginalized young women and men, including but not limited to parents, teachers, employers, politicians and community and faith leaders.

Understanding and combating discriminatory gendered social norms lies at the core of WUSC’s Theory of Change, and spans WUSC’s work in enabling access to Education, Economic Opportunities and Empowerment for young people, especially women and refugees. WUSC initiatives tackle social norms in many ways. Examples include:

  • In enabling access to education, WUSC initiatives in East Africa including the KEEP-II and LEAP projects in Kenya and AGENCI in Uganda and South Sudan, tackle social norms that lead to unwanted pregnancy and sexual violence that are exacerbated in times of crisis and displacement. In Kenya, WUSC’s KEEP project uses media channels such as radio and film and social media to influence norms amongst community members and increase engagement on issues related to girls’ education. 
  • In advancing economic opportunities for young women In Ghana, the INVEST project funds women’s advocacy groups and has engaged in a national media campaign to facilitate conversations around young women’s access to skills development training and non-traditional trades. In Jordan, WUSC’s WE LEAD project utilizes multiple strategies to support young female trainees and graduates to access employment in the private sector. These include working with social media influencers and advertising, using SMS to promote awareness on employment opportunities, and engaging employers to better understand the potential and needs of young women as employees.
  • All of WUSC’s work situates the empowerment of young women at the core. This includes WUSC’s support to the Equality Fund, and partner capacity building and engagement through the IGNI+E Volunteering for Development program support a wide range of local organizations, especially women’s groups, to develop and implement collective strategies to tackle harmful gender norms and advocate for gender equality for diverse groups. 

Much of the work above seeks to elicit behavior change. For example, shifting the behaviors of employers to actively recruit and support young women in male-domitated occupations, or encouraging parents to support education for their girls. Understanding that these behaviors are influenced by–but not wholly governed by–social norms, the focus of this consultancy is to better understand engagement with these norms, rather than on behavior change itself.

Goals and Objectives of the Assignment

The goal of this assignment is to help WUSC to develop a common organization-wide understanding of gender norms and a systematic approach to building out gender norms engagement within diverse initiatives and contexts. These strategies will guide both individual initiatives and our broader program portfolios in ways that are both innovative and contextually relevant, taking into account the intersectional positions of the groups that we serve, local cultures, politics and identities. Strategies should also be sensitive to the diverse nature of WUSC programming, that spans a wide range of goals and sectors of intervention. sec  In particular, the assignment will:

  • Provide an understanding of key definitions and approaches that relate to gender norms to provide framing for program design.
  • Document key successes, limitations and lessons learned in WUSC program design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation in relation to engagement with gender norms.
  • Benchmark WUSC programming against peer organizations that conduct similar work.
  • Propose a set of methodologies, tools, and standards for understanding and engaging with gendered social norms within WUSC initiatives.
  • Recommend options for evaluating WUSC’s contributions to challenging and changing harmful gender norms, both through specific initiatives and broader public engagement.
  • Identify key local and global actors and resources relevant for WUSC and its programming, specifically those that can be potential partners or colleagues in tackling gendered social norms.
  • Share initial findings with WUSC through knowledge sharing sessions.

It should be noted that this assignment is not an evaluation of specific initiatives, but will draw lessons from current practice through desk research and interviews. The key objective is to provide insight to WUSC from both an examination of current practice, documentation of innovations elsewhere, and consultations with diverse stakeholders.

Proposed Approach 

The consultant should propose a methodology that is highly consultative, drawing upon engagement with international and external stakeholders. The proposed methodology should include a review of key WUSC documentation, including project proposals and reports, as well as data from global, regional, and national sources. Key informant interviews (KIIs) and focus group discussions (FGDs) should be conducted with selected WUSC staff and partner representatives (including, for example, leaders of Women’s and Youth Groups, Civil Society Organizations, Private Sector and Government Actors). 

In addition, the consultant should situate WUSC’s work within that of the broader sector, through documeing insights from current research and practice. This will include a short desk review of selected practitioner and academic publications that are directly relevant to WUSC’s programming. The consultant should also conduct a limited number of interviews with peer organizations to draw from good practice and innovations that are relevant to WUSC.

WUSC Staff will provide input and feedback on the preliminary findings, recommendations, and conclusions. A weekly review session will be held with a key WUSC staff person to provide the consultant with regular feedback and engagement.

As a result of COVID-19 travel and movement restrictions as well as the Consultant’s and beneficiary safety concerns, the Consultant may be unable to conduct a traditional face-to-face consultations with project staff and stakeholders and may need to consider innovative measures, such as utilizing phone-based interviews or virtual consultations using web-based platforms such as Zoom, Teams, or Google Meet where possible. 

Specific Tasks

Phase 1
  • Develop a detailed inception report and workplan in close consultation with designated WUSC staff. The inception report will clarify and refine the overall approach, methodology, and timelines for the study.
  • Refine guidelines and finalize information collection tools.
  • Participate in an inception meeting with WUSC staff.
Phase 2
  • Conduct a short literature review highlighting current innovations and established good practices in engagement with gender norms.
  • Conduct interviews with WUSC staff and external stakeholders, including KIIs and FGDs.
  • Hold regular feedback sessions with designated WUSC staff.
  • Prepare reports as documented in deliverables below including a final report (including recommendations and a framework/guidance note) and a slide deck.
Phase 3
  • Revise reports and recommendations following feedback from WUSC staff
  • With WUSC staff, develop a framework and 2-3 guidance notes (1 per thematic programming area i.e. girls education in resource poor settings, skills for employment, entrepreneurship and small business support, etc.)
  • Develop a plan to strengthen the capacity of WUSC staff on social and gender norms engagement.
  • Participate in debriefing and management review with key WUSC management staff.
  • Lead 2 knowledge sharing sessions (i.e Learning Labs, Webinars) with WUSC staff.

Level of Effort 

The level of effort for this consultancy is estimated at 20 days.  

WUSC Roles and Responsibilities

  • To provide relevant documentation and answer the Consultant’s questions throughout the period of the mandate.
  • To mobilize the necessary team to support the consultant and designate a person responsible for the file at HQ. 
  • To provide the Consultant with feedback/comments on the various documents produced, according to the approved work plan.
  • To provide the Consultant with any support deemed necessary in the accomplishment of this mandate.

Timelines and Deliverables of the Consultancy 

The contract period is for 20 days in February and March 2022. Estimated contributions expected in working days will be determined in consultation with the selected candidate. The candidate will be required to put in place all the necessary actions to complete the consultancy within the following schedule:

Inception Meeting 0.5February
Submission of detailed work plan, draft inception report and data collection tools3February
Submission of final version of inception report which incorporates WUSC comments0.5February
Desk review, key informant interviews & focus group discussions8March
Submission of draft report including methodology, findings, recommendations, and framework/ guidance for programming 3March
Submission of final report including methodology, findings, recommendations, framework (including various revisions) and a slide deck.2March
Management review and 2 learning sessions for WUSC staff based on findings and recommendations 3March

Candidate Qualifications

The ideal consultant or consultant team should have: 

  • A minimum of 7  years of professional experience and a demonstrated track record of research, consultancy or project management relating to gendered social norms in international development programming.
  • A graduate degree in social sciences, gender studies, development studies, international development or a related field.
  • Experience working in multiple contexts and cultures, and a commitment to gender equality, diversity and anti-racism.
  • Familiarity with one or more of WUSC’s key thematic programming areas: Education, Economic Opportunities, Empowerment and/or with Durable Solutions for Refugees.
  • Strong analytical, critical thinking, and report writing skills.
  • Experience developing strategies that incorporate human rights-based and Do No Harm approaches. 
  • Knowledge and understanding of Canada’s Feminist International Assisstance Policy and Feminist International Assistance Gender Equality Toolkit for Projects. 
  • Experience with knowledge translation


Interested parties are encouraged to submit separate and clearly indicated technical and financial proposals based on Canadian currency. The deadline for the submission of only electronic proposals is Tuesday, February 1  (5PM Eastern Standard Time).

Suitably qualified and experienced consultants are invited to submit their narrative and financial proposals and any follow up questions by email to Tamsyn Riddle at [email protected]

WUSC’s activities seek to balance inequities and create sustainable development around the globe; the work ethic of our staff, volunteers, consultants, representatives and partners shall correspond to the values and mission of the organization. WUSC promotes responsibility, respect, honesty, and professional excellence and we will not tolerate harassment, coercion and sexual exploitation and abuse of any form.

WUSC is an equal opportunity employer. We welcome and encourage applications from people with disabilities. Accommodations are available upon request for candidates taking part in all aspects of the selection process. Only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted. No telephone calls please.

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