Skip to main content

Launch date: May 8, 2023

Deadline for Submission: June 23, 2023, 11:59 PM EST

In partnership with Global Affairs Canada (GAC), IDRC invites concept notes to advance gender equality through the promotion of policy and program innovations that foster the recognition, reduction, and redistribution of women’s unpaid care work in sub-Saharan Africa. Part of the five-year Scaling Care Innovations in Africa initiative (hereafter referred to as Scaling Care Innovations), the goal is to harness locally generated data and evidence to guide care policies and interventions to improve lives and livelihoods of marginalized women and girls.

This call involves a two-stage process, with submission of concept notes in the first stage, followed by full proposal submissions by shortlisted candidates.

We invite applications related to two streams of work: policy innovations (Stream 1) and program innovations (Stream 2). Applicants should indicate which stream they are applying for.

About IDRC and GAC

IDRC is a Crown corporation created in 1970 by the Parliament of Canada. IDRC supports and strengthens the capacity of people and institutions in developing countries to undertake the research that they identify as most urgent. It works with researchers and research users as they confront contemporary challenges within their own countries and contribute to global advances in their fields.

The Centre’s 10-year strategy, Strategy 2030, affirms IDRC’s vision for a more sustainable and inclusive world, and commits the Centre to the following mission: IDRC will be a leader in research for development, investing in high-quality research and innovation, sharing knowledge for greater uptake and use, and mobilizing alliances for more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive societies. (Please refer to IDRC’s Strategy 2030 for more information.)

Gender equality and inclusion are central to all IDRC programs. This includes addressing structural barriers that hold women and girls back from realizing their full potential, including the heavy and disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care work.

Global Affairs Canada (GAC) is the lead federal department responsible for coordinating Canada’s international assistance policy and programming around the world. This includes delivering development, humanitarian, and peace and security programming. GAC works with country partners, multilateral institutions, Canadian and international civil society partners, private-sector partners, and other government institutions to develop and implement innovative and sustainable development initiatives globally.

Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) is a key pillar of Canada’s broader feminist foreign policy and remains at the heart of all of Canada’s international assistance programming. Through this Policy, GAC champions the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, to eradicate poverty and build a more peaceful, inclusive and prosperous world for all. This includes providing international assistance that is human rights-based and inclusive and considers the perspectives of the most marginalized and vulnerable. By adopting a feminist approach, GAC also aims to provide more integrated, responsive, and accountable assistance that invests in innovation and research, delivers better and more transparent reporting on results, fosters effective partnerships and focuses on those regions of the world where Canada can have the greatest impact.



a)      Background and rationale

Women’s disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care work is a key driver of gender inequality in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and the world over. Be it direct personal care provided to children, the elderly, people with disabilities or illness, indirect care involving domestic work, or supervisory care provided along with other care tasks, women do the lion’s share of caring. In SSA, women spend between three to five times more hours on unpaid care and domestic work than men, performing 80% of the total hours devoted to unpaid care work in the household.

Care work is vital to the functioning of society. Yet these tasks are undervalued, and largely performed by women and girls with no pay. Despite women’s high labour force participation rates in SSA, there remains widespread expectation on women to take the responsibility of unpaid care work, and men who do unpaid care work are frowned upon.

This heavy and unequal responsibility of unpaid care work constrains women’s time for paid work, hampers their job quality, impacts their earnings, reduces their leisure time, contributes to physical and psychological depletion, and drives gender inequality. Not only does this have grave consequences for women, but it also has wider social and economic costs. It also negatively impacts children, who are disadvantaged by a lack of parental time. Older girls are often used as substitute carers and are pulled out of school or spend less time in class. There is strong evidence that this has important implications for girls’ school-to-work transition, contributing to an intergenerational cycle of poverty.

Gender disparities in the distribution of care work are driven by structural barriers embedded in formal institutions, laws, policies, and programs as well as in informal institutions and customary laws and practices that govern women’s and girls’ lives. As a result, women with care responsibilities are more likely to be self-employed and working in the informal economy and are less likely to contribute to and benefit from social security. Women and girls belonging to minority racial and ethnic groups confront additional discriminatory social norms and structural barriers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further entrenched these pre-existing gender gaps and has threatened to reverse many hard-earned gains and stall progress on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 to achieve gender equality. Those most impacted have been working mothers with children, single mothers, and those who work in the informal sector with no social protection. In most countries where data is available, at the height of pandemic restrictions, women were spending more than 30 hours per week — nearly the equivalent of a full-time job — on unpaid care work. Unaddressed, this care crisis threatens reversal of some of the incremental gains made in advancing gender equality.

Recognizing, reducing, and redistributing unpaid care work is paramount to achieving transformative change to improve women’s and girls’ lives and livelihoods.  Pandemic response and efforts to address economic shocks fueled by the recent global surge in oil and commodity prices can offer critical opportunities to rethink care as a catalyst to shaping a more inclusive recovery. Bold measures, backed by evidence and data, are needed to drive this shift.

Innovations such as time- and labour-saving technologies, affordable child and elderly care services, and flexible work policies have the potential to reduce and redistribute women’s care work, but these are not readily available or are out of reach for marginalized women and girls.

Although efforts have been made to engage men and boys in unpaid care work, much remains to be done to tackle adverse norms that perpetuate the entrenched gender divide in the provision of care and to foster gender-responsive policies.

b)      Initiative objectives and programming scope

Scaling Care Innovations seeks to respond to the challenges and gaps identified above through a focus on policy and program innovations related to the “3R” strategy for addressing unpaid care work, namely, recognizing the value of care at policy, community, household levels; reducing the drudgery and time spent on unpaid care work; and redistributing the responsibility and cost equitably within households and beyond. For further insights on the application of the 3R framework, see the UNDP’s Policy brief, Unpaid Care work.

The goal is to improve the lives and livelihoods of marginalized women and girls in SSA. The initiative builds on Canada’s feminist approach to addressing unpaid and paid care work and harnesses IDRC’s thought leadership in promoting gender-transformative development outcomes and its pioneering work on scaling positive impact

Figure 1: Thematic scope and areas of focus

Figure 1: Thematic scope and areas of focus

Figure 1 depicts the scope and focus of this initiative. Work envisaged under the “recognize” action area will focus on supporting evidence-informed policies, legislation, and gender budgeting. The goal is to improve gender-responsive planning and budget allocations by national or sub-national governments that take account of unpaid care work responsibility disproportionately shouldered by women and girls. Work envisaged under the “reduce” and “redistribute” action areas will focus on time and labour-saving technologies; family-friendly workplaces; access to affordable and quality care services for children, the elderly and persons with disability; and shifting norms aimed at boosting the participation of women and girls in economic, educational, political and leisure activities of their own choice.

Across the work, co-design with women’s rights organizations and engagement of the caregivers (women and girls) and other key stakeholders who can bring innovations to scale will be imperative for sustained change. 

Scaling Care Innovations has three pillars of work: 

  1. Supporting implementation research — by funding in-country partners to foster innovations, scale impact of promising and proven solutions and drive policy actions to recognize, reduce and redistribute unpaid care work. This work will be done in tandem with locally generated knowledge and evidence to inform scaling pathways.
  2. Nurturing a community of practice — by facilitating collaborations, peer-learning and knowledge synthesis and sharing related to unpaid care work and women’s economic empowerment (WEE).
  3. Strengthening capacity — by supporting training that is tailored to the needs of both the generators and users of knowledge on unpaid care work, including women's rights organizations and governments.

This call for concept notes will support work under the first pillar, further described below.

c)       Conceptual framework underpinning the initiative

This initiative focuses on investing in promising or proven solutions where a proof of concept suggests positive impacts can be scaled to benefit more people. 

Work supported under this initiative will be guided by IDRC’s approach to scaling science, which focuses on impact in ways that maximize benefits to society. The approach promotes scaling impact rather than scaling specific actions or innovations. This means that scaling is not necessarily about pushing up or out, because bigger outputs or more actions do not always lead to better impact. The focus will be on scaling impacts that are important to women and girls in different socio-economic contexts, ensuring their voices are heard in the process.

Four guiding principles for scaling impact will underpin the choice of work as well as the implementation of scaling strategies supported through this initiative:

  1. Justification. Scaling is a choice that must be justified. The choice needs to be made by the balance of evidence, alongside the values of those impacted.
  2. Optimal scale. More is not necessarily better. Scaling produces a collection of impacts. Impact at optimal scale balances dimensions of magnitude, variety, equity, and sustainability.
  3. Coordination. Scaling occurs in complex systems, with multiple actors involved – initiators, enablers, competitors, and those impacted. It requires coordination with key actors. 
  4. Dynamic evaluation. Scaling is an intervention that can be evaluated. Dynamic evaluation goes beyond asking whether impact was achieved at a certain date, and instead asks how, why and under what conditions the impact was achieved, and how this might change over time and place.

You can refer to The Scaling Playbook: A Practical Guide for Researchers for guidance on how to incorporate scaling science into a research project.

Figure 2 outlines the pathways for scaling impact of promising or proven policies or programs related to the initiative’s priority entry points and action areas.

The policy pathway depicts work envisaged under the “Recognize” action area, focused on informing policies, legislation, and gender budgeting with evidence. This entails a series of steps, including: engagement with key stakeholders to define problems and generate evidence; translating and mobilizing the knowledge; informing policy dialogues or expanding policy capacities depending on the need; contributing to shaping policies and supporting policy implementation for broader change.

The program innovation pathway depicts work envisaged under the “Reduce” and “Redistribute” action areas, focused on time- and labour-saving technologies, family-friendly workplaces, access to affordable and quality care services (for children, the elderly, persons living with disability), and on shifting norms. The starting point for this initiative is the availability of tested, user-ready innovations.

As noted above, in both pathways, co-design with women’s rights organizations and engagement of the caregivers (women and girls) and other key stakeholders who can bring innovations to scale will be integral to project design. The initiative will foster interactions between the policy and program innovation pathways through synergy grants dedicated for this purpose.

Figure 2: Scaling pathways for policy and program innovations

Figure 2: Scaling pathways for policy and innovations

Expectations of projects

Scaling impact

For Scaling Care Innovations, “scaling impact” means optimizing results in ways that will matter to people. It requires critical reflection on how to make the most of investments in implementation research to scale impact. There is no single approach or method to make this happen, but we have learned that being more systematic and scientific about the way scaling is encouraged can increase the likelihood of effecting meaningful change. This call for concept notes invites applications aiming to bring tested, promising and effective solutions to an optimal scale of use and application to recognize, reduce and redistribute women’s disproportionate care responsibilities. Applicants are expected to demonstrate how their proposed approach reflects the Scaling Science guiding principles for scaling impact: justification, optimal scale, coordination and dynamic evaluation. This requires that the choice to scale is justified by a balance of evidence alongside the values of those impacted. Reflections on optimal scale requires consideration across the variety of expected impacts, including but importantly going beyond magnitude, to also understand variety, equity, and sustainability of impact. Coordination of multiple actors involved in scaling is required, including initiators, enablers, competitors and those impacted. Dynamic evaluation requires embedding routine learning and reflection to understand and strengthen the process and impact of scaling. For further guidance on how to incorporate the guiding principles for scaling impact, see The Scaling Playbook: A Practical Guide for Researchers (IDRC, 2020).

Implementation research

We are looking for proposals that redress the prevailing disconnect between evidence and action in addressing unpaid care work by bringing together the generators and users of knowledge to collaboratively foster innovations, scale the impact of proven solutions and drive policies that promote gender equality and improve the lives and livelihoods of women and girls. The focus will be on implementation research that combines policy, program or service delivery with an embedded learning agenda to inform implementation by assessing what works, what doesn’t and why, and facilitating optimal scaling of positive impact. This focus will involve supporting the implementation of policy and program innovations alongside a research agenda that will generate lessons to strengthen them. The research will include, among others: identifying ways to adapt and refine interventions to the contextual needs of the selected countries; developing and testing means and models to scale them; building the capacity of stakeholders who will adapt, adopt and scale innovations and assessing results.


Key to ensuring the relevance of the proposed solutions is the engagement, as active partners in project design and implementation, of the ultimate beneficiaries (women and girls) and civil society organizations that advocate for women’s rights and gender equality. Selected proposals will be required to show how they proactively engage the target beneficiaries and women’s rights organizations throughout the project cycle and to identify and include key stakeholders and champions who can make change happen.

Gender equality and inclusion

Gender equality and inclusion are integral to Scaling Care Innovations. Transformative research and knowledge that address the differential barriers experienced by the most vulnerable are an important part of these goals. We are looking for projects that recognize structural gender barriers and consider the intersecting factors such as age, race, class and geography that uniquely shape the experiences of women and girls and necessitate tailored responses and projects that are co-designed with women’s rights organizations. The target beneficiaries for Scaling Care Innovations include women in vulnerable employment with few or no social protections; women living in rural areas, with limited access to public services, infrastructure, and time- and labour-saving technologies; girls from poor households; single mothers and women and girls belonging to racialized or marginalized ethnic groups. Proposals that treat women and girls as a homogenous group will not be funded. All projects funded must be gender responsive or gender transformative. For further guidance, please see Annex B.

The table below summarizes the general and specific requirements related to the two streams of work.

Projects related to reduction and redistribution of unpaid care work must:

  • Focus on scaling the impact of promising or proven solutions to reduce and/or redistribute unpaid care work (e.g., emphasis on time- and labour-saving technologies, family-friendly workplaces, affordable and quality care services for children, the elderly or persons with disability or engaging men and boys in unpaid care work).
  • Demonstrate proof of concept backed by evidence that justifies scaling.

Projects focusing on greater recognition of unpaid care work must:

  • Focus on scaling policy impact, with emphasis on informing and influencing evidence-based policies, legislation and gender budgeting.
  • Demonstrate evidence of relevance and potential for scaling.

All projects funded by this program must:

  • Be designed or co-designed with women’s rights organizations and include proactive engagement of key stakeholders who can facilitate scaling.
  • Integrate a research agenda alongside implementation of identified policies or innovations to inform scaling, mitigate unintended negative impacts, and generate lessons.
  • Present a sound, achievable, and feasible scaling plan describing how impacts at optimal scale will be attained, during and after the project.
  • Integrate an intersectional approach to identify what interventions will work for different categories of women and girls.
  • Address structural barriers to gender equality, such as social norms and institutional and policy barriers affecting women’s choices and opportunities.


Funding scope and duration

Scaling Care Innovations will award grants to institutions on a competitive basis.

There will be two sizes of funding available through this call, recognizing that opportunities to contribute to knowledge and action exist in different contexts, at different scales, and could be led by and involve various combinations of actors.

Project budgets related to scaling program innovations to reduce and redistribute unpaid care work will be up to CA$1.25 million. We expect to fund 10-12 projects under this category.

Project budgets related to scaling policy innovations to recognize women’s unpaid care work will be up to CA$300,000. We expect to fund 8-10 projects under this category.

Projects should be scheduled to be completed within a timeframe of no less than 18 months and not exceeding 36 months, including all research activities and final reporting.

IDRC reserves the right to fund additional proposals from this call if/when more funding becomes available.

IDRC is under no obligation to issue any funds prior to the applicant returning a fully executed Grant Agreement to IDRC.

All grants are subject to sufficient funds being made available to IDRC by the Parliament of Canada or under a donor partnership agreement with a particular external funder.

IDRC reserves the right to cancel this call for concept notes at any time without prior notice and/or to not issue any grants under this process.


Eligibility Criteria

The following eligibility criteria apply:

Diverse coalitions and equitable partnerships: Recognizing that scaling impact requires a concerted effort that brings on board multiple stakeholders, the initiative will require successful applicants to form coalitions involving research organizations, government and/or private sector entities, civil society organizations and other key implementing partners that are essential to link research to action.  Active engagement of women’s rights organizations through project co-design is essential to ensure the relevance of the proposed work and its sustainability. Funded proposals are expected to demonstrate effective and equitable partnerships that include shared participation and responsibility in research design, implementation and research uptake, and that ensure mutual accountability among participants for progress, outputs and outcomes.

One partner must be designated as the lead institution. The lead institution should submit the application to IDRC on behalf of the coalition. The lead institution will sign the grant agreement with IDRC and as such be responsible for receiving and administering the funds and ensuring that all grant conditions are met. All other partners will be third party organizations and IDRC will not enter into an agreement with them.

Lead organizations must have independent legal status (or “legal personality”) and be capable of contracting in their own right and name, receiving and administering funds, and have authority to direct proposed project activities. Lead organizations must be able to demonstrate legal status through written documentation. Legal status will only be reviewed if and when applicants are shortlisted following evaluation. 

Local leadership: The lead organization(s) must be based in sub-Saharan Africa and have the capacity to administer and transfer foreign funds. Other collaborating partners may include organizations from within the region; national, regional or international offices of multilateral organizations or international NGOs or other organizations from outside the region.  However, they cannot be the lead. Further, the work needs to be carried out in one or more eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa (see Annex C).

An organization may participate in more than one concept note, yet an individual principal investigator may only lead on one project.

United Nations agencies and CGIAR centres are NOT eligible to be a lead organization.

Applications from individual persons will NOT be accepted.

Only proposals that meet the eligibility criteria above will be considered.

IDRC reserves the right to rescind its selection of a project if it is deemed that the information provided in the application is false or misleading.


Format and requirements for proposals

The application form for this call for concept notes includes several fields that applicants will need to complete.  Fields that are included in the application process include the following:


Word count

Project information

  • Project title, duration, estimated budget
  • Country of focus
  • Thematic entry point [Stream 1: scaling policy innovations; Stream 2: scaling program innovations]
Applicant information (lead and partner institutions)


Description of proposed project

  • Rationale based on knowledge/implementation gaps in recognizing, reducing or redistributing women’s unpaid care work in the context of the project’s country of focus.
  • The policy or program innovation proposed for scaling, and why this is important.
  • Key learning/research questions and methods (data collection and analytical frameworks).
  • Project objectives, proposed activities, and expected results.

EN – 750 max

FR – 900 max

Potential for scale

  1. Proof of concept – evidence the proposed innovation is tested and offers promising or proven solutions to address women and girls’ disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care work.
  2. How the project is needs-driven and solutions-oriented, co-produces knowledge with users and facilitates learning.
  3. Incorporation of the guiding principles of scaling science: justification, optimal scale, coordination and dynamic evaluation.
  4. What would be achieved as a result of the project.

EN – 1000 max

FR – 1200 max

Team composition and partnerships

  1. Whether the project is co-designed with a women’s rights organization, and how it engages other key stakeholders (e.g. policy makers, private sector actors, community-based organizations) to advance, share and apply knowledge to improve lives and livelihoods of marginalized women and girls in SSA.
  2. How individuals and organizations involved in the project team combine complementary and relevant expertise as well as experience needed to carry out the proposed work, including combining implementation and research.
  3. Commitment to transdisciplinary approaches, southern leadership and gender equality and inclusion.

EN – 500 max

FR – 600 max

Preliminary budget with justification for the requested funding

  • Explain why the amount of funding requested is required for the proposed research.
  • If applicable, mention any parallel funding that might contribute to your project.

EN – Table, plus 250 max

FR – Table, plus 300 max

As part of the application process, applicants will also be required to submit the following document:

  • Short one-page CV of the project lead and proposed team members


Evaluation criteria

Concept notes will be evaluated by a team of technical experts (within IDRC and externally) and grant administrators based on the criteria below.

Assessment Criteria

Weighting (%)


  • Alignment of the proposal to the objectives, themes and scope of the call.
  • Clear demonstration that the proposed work addresses critical gaps in evidence and policy in the countries of the research.
  • Clear demonstration that the proposed intervention was co-designed with a women’s right organization and that it addresses the needs of marginalized women and girls.


Potential for scaling impact

  • Integration of guiding principles for scaling science: justification, optimal scale, coordination and dynamic evaluation.
  • Clarity and feasibility of the scaling strategy.
  • Proof of concept to support potential for scaling impact


High quality research

  • Scientific Rigour. 
  • Legitimacy, including special attention to gender equality and inclusion through an intersectional lens.
  • Importance.
  • Positioning for use, including the appropriateness and feasibility of a knowledge sharing plan.


Quality of project team

  • Co-design with women’s rights organization and strength of partnerships, including involvement of women and girls.
  • Mix of expertise to drive implementation, research and policy.
  • Capacity and experience with implementation research, including building partnerships that facilitate research uptake and scaling promising or proven interventions.


Value for money

  • Scale and scope of the project and potential uptake of results justifies the size of the budget.
  • Budget aligns with proposed project activities and outcomes.
  • Budget reflects shared ownership among research collaborators.





Selection process

The selection involves a 2-stage process, with submission of concept notes in the first stage, followed by full proposal submissions by shortlisted candidates.

Stage 1: Call for concept notes

Timeline: May 8 – June 23, 2023

Applicants are required to submit a completed application package using the online application by June 23, 2023. Only those applications that have submitted completed application packages on time will be considered.

Concept notes will be reviewed by a review committee comprised of IDRC program staff and external experts. The committee will assess the applications according to the evaluation criteria outlined above.

Applicants will be informed of the status of their application by July 21, 2023.

Only short-listed candidates will be asked to submit full research proposals for review and funding consideration. Shortlisted candidates will receive a small grant (Up to $CA 10,000) to further develop their proposals, solidify institutional partnerships and develop a proof of concept. They will also be invited to a virtual training hosted by IDRC on scaling science, tentatively scheduled for July 26-28, 2023.

Stage 2: Full proposal submissions

Timeline: July 21, 2023 – September 11, 2023

Short-listed institutions will submit full proposals, taking into account reviewers’ comments, and incorporating insights from the training received.

Applicants are required to submit a completed application package using the online application by September 11, 2023. Only those applications that have submitted completed application packages on time will be considered.

Submitted proposals will be reviewed by a review committee composed of internal and external experts based on evaluation criteria provided.

IDRC will carry out initial institutional and risk assessments of the shortlisted institutions at this stage. This step assesses the potential risk of material loss of IDRC funds due to weaknesses in the capacity of an applicant institution to manage or report on the financial aspects of project activities; or through economic and political conditions relating to the institution's operating environment.

The final selection process will consider the need for a balanced portfolio of projects that covers the various programming entry points (recognition, reduction, and redistribution of unpaid care work) and strands of work (policy innovations, time and labour-saving technologies, childcare, etc.), as well as country/regional balance.

Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application by October 23, 2023.

NOTE: All proposals should plan for a short inception phase (2 months), including an inception workshop. This period will allow for fine-tuning of scaling up targets and milestones, further developing activity plans and other changes and adjustments to the original proposal needed to guarantee the success of the project.


Timeline and communication of results

Submission Process

  1. Call launch: May 8, 2023
  2. Information session/webinar: May 15 & May 24, 2023
  3. Deadline for submitting concept notes: June 23, 2023
  4. Receipt of concept notes acknowledged: June 23, 2023

Selection Process – Concept Notes

  1. Concept note review completed:  July 14, 2023
  2. Applicants whose concept notes have been short-listed will be informed they have been selected to submit a full proposal: July 21, 2023
  3. Unsuccessful applicants will also be notified at this time.
  4. Virtual training on scaling science provided to short-listed candidates: July 26-28, 2023
  5. Proposal development grant provided to short-listed candidates: July 31, 2023
  6. Deadline for submitting proposals; receipt of proposals acknowledged: September 11, 2023

Selection Process – Full Proposals

  1. Proposal review completed: September 29, 2023
  2. Successful proposals informed they have been selected for potential funding contingent on meeting any specific conditions: October 23, 2023
  3. Unsuccessful applicants notified at the same time
  4. Successful applicants resubmit amended final proposals and budget: November 6, 2023


  1. Approval of proposals: December 2023
  2. Grant Agreements issued:  January – February 2024


Information session, training, FAQ, and inquiries

Following the launch of the call for concept notes, IDRC will organize an information session to address any queries from potential applicants. This will take place on May 15 and May 24, 2023, at 8:00am - 9:00am Eastern Standard Time (EST). 

Please join the session on May 15th here.

Please join the session on May 24th here

Any additional inquiries related to the call and application process should be sent by email to All inquiries should be received on or before June 19, 2023 6:00pm EST to receive a response prior to the deadline date.

Any inquiries which affect all applicants received on or before the above-mentioned deadline will be added to the FAQs with IDRC’s responses to those inquiries, and without revealing the source of the inquiries.


Permission for use and disclosure of information

As a Canadian Crown corporation, IDRC is subject to Canada’s Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. Consequently, any submissions in response to this call for concept notes will be managed by IDRC in a manner consistent with applicable legislation and IDRC’s Privacy Policy, including IDRC's obligations to disclose documents requested by members of the public or requests for personal information. For more information on how IDRC manages information in accordance with this legislation can be accessed here.



ANNEX A: Requirements in subsequent stage (Full proposal and post selection)

Those teams that are subsequently invited to submit full proposals will be requested to elaborate on their concept note. Guidance on the format for full proposals will be provided upon notification.

Among others, full proposal requirements will contain the following:

Opportunities for collaboration

Funded projects will be expected to contribute to and participate in initiative-wide efforts to track, share and learn. Successful teams can also expect to collaborate across the Scaling Care Innovations portfolio for the purposes of harnessing the diverse expertise involved, promoting ongoing learning and networking, identifying and seizing emerging opportunities and achieving maximum impact beyond the scale of individual projects.

Opportunities may include, for example:

  1. Co-developing and participating in yearly learning reviews to explore lessons and areas of synergy across the initiative. 
  2. Participating in initiative-wide working groups on capacity strengthening, gender and inclusion, knowledge management, research for impact and/or monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) to advance learning, innovation, and impact.
  3. Participating in a regional community of practice on unpaid care work fostered by Scaling Care Innovations to facilitate knowledge sharing, peer learning and agenda setting.

Data management and open access

Funded projects will be expected to comply with IDRC’s Open Data Statement of Principles. Teams that are invited to prepare full proposals will elaborate and submit a data management plan. Projects funded through this Initiative will comply with IDRC’s Open Access Policy and will be expected to budget accordingly.

Research ethics and safeguarding

Research work must be carried out in accordance with high ethical standards, in keeping with IDRC’s Corporate Principles on Research Ethics and the Canadian Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2, 2022). The Grant Agreement further outlines applicable standards related to research ethics and safeguarding.

Prior to commencing research, applicants may need to obtain approval from an official institutional or national research ethics body. In contexts where there is no official institutional or national research ethics body, the applications will need to propose how they plan on setting up an ethics committee for the project.  After approval of the project by IDRC, successful organizations are expected to submit the ethics and security protocols to IDRC, and to monitor and report on ethical risks and their management as the research is implemented.

Post selection requirements 

For teams whose full proposal is recommended for funding:

Proposal and budget finalization Prior to finalizing a Grant Agreement, IDRC reserves the right to request any revisions to the submitted proposal and budget. A revised proposal with the necessary revisions must be returned in a timely manner to IDRC.  After an institutional assessment of an applicant’s organization is performed, IDRC may identify operational or financial weaknesses that could pose some administrative risks to the proposed project. In such cases, IDRC reserves the right to request the applicant’s organization to partner with another institution as a condition of receiving the grant.

Grant Agreement – The technical selection of a proposal does not constitute a formal commitment by IDRC to fund the project. IDRC will have no obligation to issue any funds prior to the applicant returning an executed grant agreement issued to them by IDRC. Any selected proponents must sign IDRC’s standard Grant Agreement to receive funds. The grant agreement will provide a schedule for submitting interim and final technical and financial reports. Although there is no limit on the number of co-applicants in one application, IDRC will only negotiate Grant Agreements with the lead organization(s).

Country clearance requirements  Grantees must follow the prevailing approval procedure as required by the government authority. This is often administered by a coordinating or nodal agency of the government and varies by jurisdiction. A grant agreement will only be issued if and once country clearance(s) is/are obtained. IDRC reserves the right to not pursue the funding of a selected project if the country approval is not secured within six months after IDRC officially announces approval of the project, as this would jeopardize the timely completion of the initiative. In cases where the recipient will manage sub-grantees, the country requirements that apply to sub-grantees are also documented in the grant agreement. It becomes the responsibility of the IDRC grantee to ensure that sub-grantees meet these requirements.

Country risk –  IDRC funds research in locations that respond to the corporate and programmatic plans and objectives approved by IDRC’s Board of Governors. Project proposals may need to be revised where project activities may be affected by legal restrictions to the transfer of funds or other resources to specific entities; due to physical remoteness, physical risks to IDRC employees in particular regions, or other inaccessibility factors that prevent IDRC from properly monitoring and supporting the project; or applicable laws and regulations that prevent institutions from accessing funds. Similarly, GAC may have restrictions on funding research in particular locations or contexts.


ANNEX B: Gender Equality and Inclusion

IDRC strives for equality in all aspects of its work. Inequalities exist across multiple and intersecting categories of identity, including, but not limited to, gender, sexuality, age, class, race, caste, ethnicity, citizenship status, religion and ability.

Achieving equality varies by place and must be situated within the socio-cultural, political, and economic contexts of the different regions where IDRC works. Equally, inequalities are not static and can vary and change over time.

To promote gender equality and inclusion, it is critical for implementation research projects to strongly consider investigating the roles of sex, gender and other diverse identities and experiences and their relationship to the history, structures and functioning of these systems.

IDRC recognizes the importance of striking a balance between ambition and pragmatism. Actions to address gender and other inequalities require doing the groundwork to interrogate and surface the ultimate root causes of inequality; at the same time, changing gendered structural dynamics takes time, trust and long-term commitments to policies and practices.

The questions below are intended to guide you in reflecting how your research addresses social and gender equality and inclusion, and how you can strengthen these dimensions in your proposal.

  1. Does your proposal intend to understand and address social and gender inequalities and their underlying causes? Is it co-designed with a women’s rights organization?
  2. In the context of your proposal, what are the power structures and power dynamics that exist between men and women, and other groups which underpin gender inequality? What are some possible avenues to address and change these conditions? 
  3. Is the project designed specifically to address gender inequalities and will the project's specific outcomes achieve observable changes in behaviour, practice or performance that will contribute to gender equality?
  4. In the context of the key challenge/gap your project seeks to address, how is this affected by identities or experiences such as race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, income levels and where individuals live (e.g., rural, urban settings)? 
  5. Is there a logical theory of change of how your project objectives will promote or lead to greater gender equality and/or inclusion? What impact will your research proposal have on these aspects? 
  6. Do you have a stand-alone objective on addressing gender equality and inclusion? How are other objectives framed in relation to addressing gender equality and inclusion?
  7. How will the proposed conceptual framework(s), research design, and related research methods address, and analyze the root causes and context-specific factors contributing to intersectional forms of gender inequality? Which individuals and groups should be engaged in co-creating this research design and its implementation – to what extent and how will they be engaged? 
  8. Has your project identified clear outcomes and indicators with respect to gender equality and inclusion? Are these integrated into project measurement tools? For example, do you plan to collect and analyze sex-disaggregated data? What about gender-disaggregated data? Have you planned to undertake a pre- and post-project gender analysis?
  9. Does the proposal’s knowledge translation plan integrate sex and gender considerations (including intersectionality) in how the iterative processes of engagement, analysis, synthesis, product development and knowledge facilitation are designed and operationalized? 
  10. Do the members of your project team understand contextual gender equality and inclusion issues? Do you have the right skills and experience in your team? Which of your team members will take the lead in designing, implementing, monitoring and assessing your project’s objectives to address gender inequality and inclusion?
  11. Does your project team have a good balance between male and female participants?
  12. Have you clearly budgeted for gender equality and inclusion activities and staffing? Have you allocated sufficient time and resources to strengthen the capacity of your team, partners and other stakeholders on gender and inclusion issues?

Please note that these are some myths or assumptions that will be important to avoid in your proposal:

  • Assuming that women, or certain groups, do a task so that they will benefit is not adequate. Instead, it will be important for your project to identify any gender inequalities and outline steps by which your research will help re-define power dynamics.
  • Adding “especially women and marginalized groups” after each of your objectives is not adequate. You must be able to define how gender dynamics are present in your research objectives. Research rigour and quality is critical.
  • The women in your team will not always qualify as the gender expert. Get real gender expertise and partnerships that bring in the necessary skills.
  • Equally, addressing gender in the project is not only the responsibility of these gender experts – rather the entire team must understand the gender dynamics at play in your research.
  • Addressing gender takes real resources. Saying gender cannot be integrated because you do not have sufficient resources is not acceptable. Budget resources for gender at the outset.

The following outlines the continuum of gender and inclusion integration in research:


Gender and inclusion sensitive

Gender and inclusion responsive

Gender and inclusion transformative


Gender and inclusion are considered in the project’s rationale and addressed in the project design and methodology but do not (yet) extend to analysis and action to address social inequalities. Gender and inclusion are considered in the project’s rationale, design, and methodology and are rigorously analyzed to inform implementation, communication and influence strategies. The project examines, analyzes and builds an evidence base to inform long-term practical changes in structural power relations and norms, roles and inequalities that define the differentiated experiences of people. Transformative projects aim to lead to sustained change on gender equality and inclusion through action (e.g., partnerships, outreach and interventions).

Key questions to ask

Does the project design include analysis of the differentiated roles, experiences and impacts for men, women, girls, boys, non-binary people and/or specific populations? Does the project use analysis to implement actions and to address, build on and respond to the results of the analysis?

Does the project go beyond the analysis of differentiated roles, experiences and perception gaps and explore the underlying structural causes, norms and power relations that caused these differences?

PLUS: does the project implement actions to address these underlying structural causes, norms and power relations that caused the differences?


ANNEX C: List of eligible countries

Sub-Saharan Africa | IDRC - International Development Research Centre




Burkina Faso



Cabo Verde

Central African Republic



Democratic Republic of Congo


Equatorial Guinea







Guinea Bissau

Côte d’Ivoire













Republic of Congo



Sao Tome & Principe


Sierra Leone


South Africa

South Sudan