Inclusive Communication: Gender-Sensitive, Inclusive and Accessible Language

08.18.2022 | Guides & Tools


“Inclusive Communication: Gender-Sensitive, Inclusive and Accessible Language” consolidates current standards and practices as defined by multilateral international and humanitarian organizations for more inclusive English-language communication. The document incorporates international standards and guidance developed in resources and published by experts, international organizations, and development partners with expertise in promoting gender-sensitive communication, like the European Institute for Gender Equality, the United Nations, and the European Parliament, among others. This document also includes more inclusive practices from gender experts, gender activists, and philologists.

Women make up at least 50 percent of the world’s populations, including marginalized groups such as youth, persons with disabilities, religious and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ+. CIPE is committed to promoting gender equality and accessibility in its programs around the world, and advances strategies in emerging markets to build more inclusive, thriving economies and democracies that deliver for all citizens. CIPE’s Center for Women’s Economic Empowerment (CWEE) promotes women’s leadership through private sector engagement, advocacy, and partnerships with governments and civil society.

Languages are fluid and ever-changing, and as the international development field works to promote gender equality and inclusivity for all people, how to communicate and the words the community uses also change. As part of CIPE’s commitment to the value of inclusion, this document can serve CIPE staff and partners as an example of how to address and communicate about gender, inclusivity, and accessibility following international guidelines.

CIPE’s Value of Inclusion: CIPE recognizes the diversity within the private sector; we actively work to engage and assist a wide array of partners and stakeholders including populations who have previously operated on the margins of the economy, to support their full participation in the business community. To that end, we respect and invite participation from people representing all economic strata, political affiliations, genders and ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Communication shapes perceptions about the roles played by women, men, and non-binary people in society and in the labor market. Using gender-inclusive and accessible language demonstrates respect toward people and promotes equality in communications. Research reveals that children perceive gender roles and gender socialization starting at an early age, and language plays an instrumental role in shaping how we think about gender differences and inclusivity. Specific linguistic rules or applications can further exacerbate gender differences and can often leave women and other minority groups invisible, for example by referring to an unknown person automatically as “he.” Language adapts as concepts for gender inclusivity evolve. This document serves as a desk review of international standards and guidelines for inclusive communication and consolidates the information in the form of more inclusive practice among the stakeholder community.