Monitoring and evaluation

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It is essential to monitor and evaluate the outcomes of both gender-focused and -mainstreamed development interventions and policies. This can provide crucial information for adjusting programmes and activities in order to better achieve gender equality related goals, and in order to know if and when such efforts have been successful. In order to assess and address differences in the impact of development interventions on women and men, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms need to be sensitive to gender. Mechanisms used to monitor and evaluate have however been largely gender blind.

Where interventions are specifically gender-focused, a key challenge is how to measure change in the context of gender relations. Linear frameworks (such as logframes) are a common tool to monitor whether particular goals were achieved. Results are often performance-based, documenting activities and outputs, such as the number of women trained. There are few M&E frameworks that seek to measure impact and change over time and to contribute to an understanding of how change happens or how gender relations have been altered. It is thus difficult to determine the most effective interventions for altering social power relations that mediate women’s access to resources and rights, security and autonomy. Monitoring of objectives rarely includes factors such as increases in women’s control over agricultural resources. In turn, donor support for initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality has often focused on initiatives, such as microfinance and political representation, which are considered easier to assess.

Batliwala and Pittman (2010) emphasise the importance of developing M&E frameworks and tools that focus on social change; that can capture the results of large-scale women’s empowerment processes, beyond single projects or interventions; and that can track and incorporate backlashes and unexpected change, common in women’s rights work. Such nuanced factors are however challenging to track with standard tools, and with financial and time constraints.

It is also important to acknowledge in the design of M&E frameworks and tools that efforts to empower women and transform gender relations are complex processes. Progress in these areas is non-linear and can take a long time. It is thus important to assess and value intermediate outcomes in addition to longer-term outcomes.

Batliwala, S. and Pittman, A. (2010). ‘Capturing Change in Women’s Realities: A Critical Overview of Current Monitoring and Evaluation Frameworks’, Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), Toronto, Mexico City and Capetown
This study analyses current assumptions about monitoring and evaluation in the context of women’s rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment work. It assesses M&E tools and argues that donors and agencies need to work more closely with constituencies in building M&E systems to find creative ways of tracking the effects of interventions in the change process. Women’s rights organisations need to make internal learning systems a stronger part of their work.

Batliwala, S. (2011). ‘Strengthening Monitoring And Evaluation For Women’s Rights: Thirteen Insights For Women’s Organizations’, Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), Toronto, Mexico City and Capetown
This paper posits that we have recently seen a shift away from a focus on women’s human rights towards more pragmatic considerations of social returns on ‘investments’—the ‘investing in women’ as ‘smart economics’ advocated by the UN and World Bank, and ‘girl effect’ model. Organizations working for women’s rights and gender equality are therefore under growing pressure to demonstrate results. This paper presents thirteen suggestions for improving monitoring and evaluating women’s rights work.
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Gender indicators

Gender-sensitive indicators are developed to measure gender-related changes over time. They can be quantitative, based on sex-disaggregated statistical data, such as the numbers of girls and boys enrolled in school, or the percentages of women and men in Parliament. They can also be qualitative, aimed at capturing people’s experiences, opinions, attitudes and feelings. This could include changes in attitudes about domestic violence, or women’s experiences of work and employment. Data for qualitative indicators may be collected through participatory methodologies, such as focus group discussions and interviews.

There are various challenges in deciding on indicators to measure change. Deciding what to measure can be a political process, with differing priorities between and within donors and partner countries. It is also often difficult to identify indicators that can measure complex aspects of gender equality, such as empowerment or gender mainstreaming. In addition, it can be difficult to determine why particular changes have happened. Multiple factors are often at play and it can be hard to attribute outcomes to a particular intervention.

Key lessons in relation to gender-sensitive indicators include:

  • Combine quantitative and qualitative indicators and methodologies. While quantitative indicators can reveal what has changed, qualitative analyses can reveal the quality of change and help to determine why certain patterns have emerged. Qualitative indicators may also be necessary to effectively measure complex aspects, such as women’s empowerment.
  • Consult with local people and adopt a participatory approach in designing and selecting indicators. This is necessary to understand what constitutes meaningful change for the people affected. For example, women and men from target groups may measure changes against important cultural or local elements.

Data collection

Data collection can be another challenging aspect of M&E. Indicator data is often based on census surveys, which often lack gender awareness, resulting in the risk of gender biases. Many developing countries have inadequate sex-disaggregated statistical data and lack of capacity in national statistical offices to handle such data. It may be necessary to improve local capacity and to stimulate the need for gender-sensitive data collection.

Moser, A. (2007). ‘Gender and Indicators: Overview Report’, BRIDGE Development-Gender, Institute of Development Studies, Brighton
This report examines conceptual and methodological approaches to gender and measurements of change. It focuses on current debates and good practice from the grassroots to the international level. It argues that measurement techniques and data remain limited and poorly utilised, making it difficult to know if efforts are on track to achieve gender equality goals and commitments.

Demetriades, J. (2009). ‘Gender Equality Indicators: What, Why and How’, prepared for the OECD DAC Network on Gender Equality based on BRIDGE’s 2007 Gender and Indicators Cutting Edge Pack
This practice note focuses on the use of gender equality indicators as a way of measuring change. It asks: what are indicators, and why should we develop indicators to measure gender equality? It also addresses the often political issue of what we should be measuring, provides some broad principles that can be applied, and suggests some questions donors can ask when developing gender equality indicators. The brief also offers examples of existing indicators, while emphasising that they always need to be adapted to specific contexts.
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Danida. (2006). ‘Gender-Sensitive Monitoring and Indicators’, Technical Note, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Danida, Copenhagen
This note offers a brief introduction to indicators and monitoring tools relevant to gender-related activities in Danida’s countries of cooperation. It is primarily aimed at supporting officers responsible for preparing and managing Danish bilateral development assistance. It outlines Danida’s 2004 strategy for gender equality; international goals, indicators and targets for gender equality; national level indicators; sector level indicators and monitoring tools.
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UN Women. (2012). Reflecting on Gender Equality and Human Rights in Evaluation. UN Women.
This paper has four chapters examining different aspects of gender in evaluation, based on a conference held in 2011. The first chapter is a case study of an M&E framework for a community organisation working with female sex workers. The second chapter provides a menu of approaches for evaluating partnerships. The third chapter is most relevant and looks at how to overcome difficulties to gender monitoring, building on Mosse’s process monitoring and the Most Significant Change framework. The fourth chapter presents an evaluation approach for complex systems.
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Espinosa, J. (2013). Moving towards gender-sensitive evaluation? Practices and challenges in international-development evaluation. Evaluation, 19(2), 171-182.
How do international development agencies include gender in evaluations? Although there has been growing interest in and use of gendered evaluations, progress is slow and uneven. It is still unusual to find in-depth gender analysis of gender dimensions in evaluation. There is little political will to make gender a central issue in evaluation, and it is usually only found in programmes aimed at women or gender relations. It is also common to find weak institutional capability. The focus tends to be on women rather than differential impacts on men and women and unequal gender relations. Gender also suffers from a lack of baselines and from qualitative analysis being considered less rigorous.
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Global gender indices

Various country-level composite measures of gender inequality and women’s position have been developed over the past two decades. In recent years, several new indices have emerged. These include the Global Gender Gap Index introduced in 2006; and the Gender Inequality Index, the Social Institutions and Gender Index, the Women’s Economic Opportunities Index, and the Gender Equality Index – all launched in 2010. These indices are freely accessible online (some can be downloaded in a data file and some also provide the underlying indicators). They offer considerable potential for academic research, policy analysis, and monitoring and evaluation of policies (van Staveren, 2011).

The Gender Inequality Index

The 2010 Human Development Report introduced the Gender Inequality Index (GII). This measures inequality between women and men in three dimensions: reproductive health, empowerment and the labour market. It replaces the Gender Development Index (GDI) and the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM). The GII is concerned more with outcomes and incorporates methodological improvements to the GDI and GEM and alternative indicators. ‘The health dimension is measured by two indicators: maternal mortality ratio and the adolescent fertility rate. The empowerment dimension is also measured by two indicators: the share of parliamentary seats held by each sex and by secondary and higher education attainment levels. The labour dimension is measured by women’s participation in the work force’ (UNDP, 2011: 1).

Social Institutions and Gender Index

The Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) was developed in 2009, based on the OECD’s Gender, Institutions and Development Database. It focuses on societal norms and institutions, and covers five categories: 1) discriminatory family code, 2) restricted physical integrity, 3) son bias, 4) restricted resources and entitlements, and 5) restricted civil liberties. Its indicators concern both formal institutions (e.g. rights and laws) and informal institutions (e.g. social and cultural practices).

Global Gender Gap Index

The Global Gender Gap Index (GGGI), introduced in 2006 by the World Economic Forum, measures gaps in human development variables between men and women (measured as female/male ratios). It covers five dimensions of gender inequality: economic participation, economic opportunity, political empowerment, educational attainment and health and well being. These are measured using fourteen indicators.

Women’s Economic Opportunities Index

The Women’s Economic Opportunities Index (WEOI), developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit, was first published in 2010. It has five dimensions – labour policy and practice; access to finance; education and training; women’s legal and social status; and general business environment – made up of 26 indicators. It considers laws, regulations, practices, customs and attitudes that affect women’s ability to participate in the work force under conditions similar to men.

Gender Equality Index

The Gender Equality Index (GEI), drawn from the Indices of Social Development database, was first published in 2010. The index includes input measures (mainly resources and rights), outcome measures (functionings or wellbeing indicators) and attitudinal measures (social norms). It incorporates quantitative and qualitative measures. Two indicators (women’s economic rights and women’s social rights) are themselves composites.

Comparison of the Five Indices

Van Staveren (2011: 15-16) positions each of the five indices discussed in this section along the stages of a Capability Approach. This approach comprises:

  • ‘Resources: Real access to inputs like land, income and credit. This also includes wage variables for example, such as gender wage inequality, as well as access to particular services such as child care, road infrastructure and business support.
  • Institutions: Formal institutions such as laws and rights, and informal institutions such as social norms and cultural practices. Gendered institutions are asymmetric between men and women and often form unequal constraints for women for their capabilities and functionings. Examples are women’s lack of land rights and stereotype perceptions of working mothers as less deserving of jobs or as inadequate parents.
  • Capabilities: Directly enabling peoples’ doings and beings, such as education and health.
  • Functionings: Actual doings and beings that one has reason to value, such as being literate and having a long life expectancy’.

The five indices are focused on:

  • ‘GEI: overall human development index of gender equality
  • GII: capability and functionings measure (outcome measure) of gender equality
  • SIGI: institutional measure of gender equality
  • GGGI: capability measure of gender equality
  • WEOI: resources & institutions measure (input measure) of women’s development’

van Staveren, I. (2011). ‘To Measure is to Know? A Comparative Analysis of Gender Indices’, Working Paper No. 2011-02, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague
What are the key differences among contemporary gender indices? This paper examines five such indices: the Gender Equality Index, Gender Inequality Index, Social Institutions and Gender Index, Global Gender Gap Index, and Women’s Economic Opportunities Index. It compares the indices and explains the differences by their methodological and theoretical characteristics. The aim is to enable researchers and policy analysts to make informed choices when they want to use a composite measure of gender inequality in their analyses.
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Gaye et al. (2010). ‘Measuring Key Disparities in Human Development: The Gender Inequality Index’, Human Development Research Paper 2010/46, UNDP
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UNDP. (2011). ‘Frequently Asked Questions about the Gender Inequality Index’, UNDP
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McDevitt, A. (2010). ‘Helpdesk Research Report: Measuring Women’s Economic Empowerment’, Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, Birmingham