Earlier this year in one of her weekly blogs IEG’s Director General Caroline Heider posed an important question: “How do we create the right incentives to ensure gender dimensions are included in our work?” My experience of mainstreaming gender in the United Nations system has convinced me four key issues must be addressed.

  1. Strengthen an organizational enabling environment for gender equality.

    In the case of the United Nations, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) requested that work continue to enhance and accelerate gender mainstreaming including by fully implementing the United Nations System-wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN SWAP).
  2. Ensure strong vision and leadership by senior management.

    The UN Secretary General, the UN Women Executive Director and the World Bank President are three strong advocates for gender equality. Inspired by their leadership, high-level discussions took place between the Evaluation Cooperation Group (ECG), a network of evaluators in multilateral banks; the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG), which brings together evaluators in UN entities; and EvalNet, which links evaluators in OECD countries on how to integrate gender in evaluation in their own respective organizations.
  3. Strengthen organizational capacities for gender equality.

    In the evaluation community this means strengthening gender-responsive evaluations.  Under the leadership of UN Women, UNEG recently developed the handbook on Integrating Human Rights and Gender Equality in Evaluation which integrates gender-responsive evaluation in training. UN Women, in partnership with UNEG and EvalPartners, is now developing an e-learning tool to be integrated in the EvalPartners’ Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) that has already attracted 20,000 registered participants from 178 countries.
  4. Put in place an accountability and reporting system.

    The UN SWAP has 15 performance indicators for tracking six main elements on gender mainstreaming, including one dedicated to tracking how gender responsive are evaluations managed by UN entities. Progress (or lack of it) is reported annually to ECOSOC, ensuring a constant political demand for the mainstreaming of gender equality in the UN system.

The golden opportunity of the post-2015 agenda

The year 2015 will be a year of global transformation, in which the new Sustainable Development Goals will be framed. Ensuring gender equality will be central to achieving these goals.  

Evaluation must be equipped to inform its design and implementation, at both the global and national levels. National development policies and programmes should therefore be informed by evidence generated by credible national evaluation systems that are gender-responsive, while ensuring policy coherence.  The challenge is:  How can the global evaluation community ensure that evaluation shapes and contributes to the implementation of international, regional and national policies and programmes to achieve sustainable, gender-responsive and equitable development?

Gender-responsive evaluation: A global partnership

No single organization, regardless of how big, strategic or well-funded it is, can do it alone. The only way to address these challenges is through a global partnership. That’s why EvalPartners was launched two years ago.

EvalPartners, co-led by UN Women and the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE), brings together evaluation and development practitioners in the UN system, multi-lateral banks, Civil Society Organizations, private foundations and governments to achieve a common goal.

Together with UNEG and the International Development Evaluation Association (IDEAS) EvalPartners launched a networked global multi-stakeholders consultative process to frame the future priorities of the global evaluation community, including how to integrate gender in international, national and regional evaluation policies and systems.

I would like to invite the World Bank Group as an institution, and each of you as committed professionals, to join the consultations and shape the future of a gender-responsive evaluation community.


Submitted by Tessie Catsambas on Mon, 09/08/2014 - 23:28

It is so exciting to see the leadership of UN Women in this blog, which feels to me like a call to action for the evaluation community in building gender equality and equity issues in evaluation. Many international and national policies are emerging regarding gender equity, and the proof of their power will be in how we operationalize them. Do we pay lip service by filling out a checklist, or do we embed serious analysis on the gender dimension? Do we devote a "special chapter," or do we integrate it into every part of the evaluation process? Do we interview a few token women, or do we inconvenience ourselves and reach deeper into communities to understand underprivileged women's experiences, and the experiences of other groups whose lives are compromised by gender inequality? Side-by-side with global advocacy and action evidenced in Marco Segone's blog, we need to highlight local action and effective practices. National evaluation associations and societies have to showcase work that contributes to our deeper understanding of how to embed gender equality in our work, and show us why in matters. In October, in Denver, at the American Evaluation Association Conference, we are featuring a Presidential Strand panel entitled Violence Against Women: A Global Crisis and a Challenge for Evaluators. We, evaluators, needs to become more adept at conducting gender-responsive evaluations. In the South Asia Community of Evaluators, the Gender and Evaluation community, http://gendereval.ning.com/?xg_source=msg_mes_network, hosts active and exciting conversations about local tools and practices. Let's work together to connect the dots of local action on gender equality across the world. Tessie Catsambas, IOCE Secretary, EvalPartners Executive Committee and Enabling Environment Task Force

Submitted by Donna M Mertens on Thu, 09/11/2014 - 06:36

I also applaud the important step UN Women is taking in this call to action. Building on the posting by Marco Segone and Tessie Catsambas' comments, I want to raise several interrelated points concerning the role of the evaluator, diversity within communities of women, and the need to challenge oppressive cultural beliefs and structural inequities. As a community, we need to give more thought to how we design evaluations that are supportive of the transformative change that we value. How do we interact with stakeholders throughout the continuum in ways that leave them better able to take action to create change through the use of evidence-based decision making in culturally respectful ways? How do we decide who to include and how to include them? If problems faced by women are to be solved, how do we use a gender-responsive lens for the inclusion of men as part of the solution? What are the dimensions of diversity within the community of women we are engaged with - particularly characteristics beyond gender that are used as a basis for oppression and discrimination? For example, how can we address the needs of women who have a disability or deaf women? What strategies are we using in our evaluations, what questions are we raising that bring attention to the need to be inclusive and not to further marginalize those who are at the most risk of being excluded and further oppressed? Given that there are oppressive cultural beliefs and structural inequities, how do we work together with communities to make these visible and to support the challenge that is needed in this regard? The resources presented in this thread of discussion are valuable in our search for answers to these questions. Sharing our experiences and strategies is also important.

Submitted by Daniella O Asante on Sat, 09/13/2014 - 00:50

I'm always happy and glad to see women in power trying to help others. keep it up ladies.

Submitted by JACK O. ABEBE on Mon, 09/15/2014 - 21:16

I could not agree any more. It is true that the issues highlighted are key to gender responsive evaluations. As a specialist in Knowledge Management, Communications, Reporting and Documentation, I believe learning is an integral component of evaluation. A lot of data is generated by evaluation which is covered by reporting here. But knowledge management could be subsumed in the category of reporting which is detrimental to the gains that could be made out of every bit of success in gender responsive evaluations. I therefore think it is an imperative of any evaluative mechanism that wants to replicate best practice models and escalate the concept to further multiplicity. Agencies need to develop such platforms for sharing and tools to strengthen and promote the exchange of evaluation findings, conclusions and recommendations with stakeholders and potential users in order to have a wider impact on learning and to contribute to improved policy design and programming in the area of gender equality. Also, the UNEG Norms and Standards highlight the need for people centred evaluation and for evaluators to consider human rights and gender equality in their work but there has continued to be a gap in tools and frameworks for evaluation that fully reflect these considerations. In August 2014, UNEG produced "Intergrating Human Rights and Gender Equality in Evaluations". The new publication is aimed at increasing knowledge on the application of these two approaches in evaluation processes but also at raising awareness on their specific relevance and significance for UN work. It complements the UNEG's Handbook "Integrating Human Rights and Gender Equality in Evaluation: Towards UNEG Guidance," and provides additional theoretical and applied information, tools and suggestions. The four issues highlighted here are a great starting point and will allow for improvement and efficiency audits with potential linkages to further learning. Cheers

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