Thematic Areas

Public Service Accountability

PSA - Accountability in gender responsive quality service delivery

PSA - Accountability in gender responsive quality service delivery

Basic services such as education, health, water and sanitation, food, housing and human security are important as they are basic rights. They make it possible to progressively realise other economic, social and human rights for all citizens, especially the most marginalised. 

In many countries, the state is unable or unwilling to meet its responsibility of providing basic public services. Essential services are underfunded, poor in quality, don’t reflect people’s needs or are even completely absent. The State is often keen to give up its responsibility for providing basic services by arguing that private companies can do it better, when in reality services for the poorest tend to get worse when they are privatised.

When public services don’t work, it’s communities living in poverty, particularly women and girls, that suffer the most. Around the world, millions of girls are missing out school. Women are more at risk of violence in their cities from poor public transport and lighting. And women are filling the gap where public services don't exist, paying with their time and bodies by looking after the young, elderly and sick.

Participatory methodologies can be used to enhance communities’ understanding of their rights to public services and to build their capacity to demand accountable, transparent, equitable and gender-responsive basic services. They should be able to identify gaps, priorities and spaces to influence decision-making and to hold government to account.

Participatory tools for accountability in gender responsive quality service delivery include:

  • Social audit – to collect and present evidence about a government programme or service
  • Community scorecard - to enable people to assess and provide feedback on government or NGO programmes, services or facilities.
  • Public services map - to map service provision (and the lack of it) in the community showing where people live and where the services are provided.


  • Accountability: Quality and Equity in Public Service Provision. Just and Democratic Local Governance series, ActionAid, 2011.
  • People’s Action in Practice, ActionAid. Whole publication but in particular, pp. 27-28, 73-74, 125-142.


Here you can download some useful resources.

Tools in this toolbox

Activity mapping

To explore the different activities that women and men do each day and how these contribute to the local economy.The tool asks pa…

Care sharing square

To help identify actors that can support and share an individual's care work.The tool helps to introduce the idea that care is a …

Citizens' budget

To share information about a budget in a clear and simple way. Budgets reports are often very long and written in complicated tec…

Community scorecard

To help groups assess services, facilities programmes or projects run by government, NGOs or other organisations, by grading them…

Leaky pot

To explore how governments lose revenue through tax avoidance and corruption. This image of a leaking pot is used to support part…

Public services map

To analyse the state of a public service (e.g. education) and the impacts on local people, and to analyse and prioritise the most…

Public service trust diagram

To explore the levels of trust in public services in a community.StepsFor all the issues identified previously in the process, as…

Social audit

To collect and present evidence about a programme or service.                               The Social Audit process uses partici…

Suggestion box

To enable citizens to submit anonymous complaints, suggestions or questions. Community suggestions boxes allow citizens to submit…

Transparency board

To share information about government or NGO projects and programmes.Transparency Boards are used to share information about proj…