Addressing gender in impact evaluation: what should be considered?

Gillian Fletcher


This paper guides development practitioners and evaluators in how to assess the way in which development interventions engage with gender, whether recognised or not, and their impact. It suggests that understanding gender as a process of judgement and value related to stereotypes and norms, rather than a category, underpins the collection of meaningful data on gender-related impacts.

A good intervention design will identify critical inequalities and conduct a needs assessment that identifies gender-related issues that feed directly into programme theory and subsequently implementation. This paper seeks to clarify the meaning and importance of gender, and recommends methods, tools and questions to consider when assessing gender-related impact.

Key points:

  • Review how (and if) an intervention seeks to engage with gender.
  • Classify the approach taken using The Gender Equality Continuum and use this classification to decide on appropriate evaluation questions.
  • Clarify the purpose (accountability to and learning for whom?).
  • Choose appropriate data collection methods and analysis tools with gender themes in mind.
  • The application of a gender lens to development interventions and evaluations should include:
    • articulating gendered aspects of an intervention – is it tackling symptoms, root causes or both? Some interventions will have a more explicit understanding of gender than others;
    • determining gendered patterns in intervention and delivery;
    • assessing gender needs and explore the nature of women’s involvement;
    • noting positive and negative change for both men and women.

Gender and gender-related injustice is a feature of all interventions, whatever the focus. To date, the assessment of an intervention’s impact on gender has most often been through the compilation of quantitative, often disaggregated, data. However, showing an increase in the number of women participants is not the same as demonstrating gender impact – the latter requires assessing changes in people’s lives over time.


Fletcher, G. (2015). Addressing gender in impact evaluation. A Methods Lab publication. London: Overseas Development Institute.