Rome, 23 March 2023 – While gender transformative approaches have become increasingly recognized as important, there are critical gaps in evidence regarding how they work and their outcomes. But, if better evidence can be built and applied, gender transformative approaches offer a potent opportunity for development programs and investments to make lasting progress toward equality. Moving from this premise, Mónica Lomeña-Gelis, Senior Evaluation Officer at the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE), delved into the challenges of evaluating transformational change towards gender equality in rural development, during an Evaluation Practice Exchange (EPE) seminar of the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG).
Held virtually on 23 March, the EPE session prompted reflection on the challenges of evaluating gender transformational change, shared experiences on tackling these challenges, and discussed how IFAD is currently evaluating Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment (GEWE) and gender transformative approaches.
Gender transformative approaches represent a shift in how we think about and approach. They seek to tackle inequalities by engaging women and men together in addressing underlying gender barriers. In particular, they can shift constraining gender norms, which are a critical leverage point for enhancing gender equality.
“Examples of GEWE practices contributing to gender transformative change include functional skills training to women, gender awareness training, including engaging with men and traditional community leaders, leadership skills training to women, and policy engagement at regional and national level to ensure gender issues are on the agenda, among others”, noted Dr Lomeña-Gelis.
From an evaluative perspective, the question arises as what indicators are being used to assess gender transformative change. More broadly, the issue becomes how to ensure a shared understanding of ‘transformative change towards gender equality’, with a view to avoiding the concept losing credibility by being co-opted or mal-used.
In her presentation, Dr Lomeña-Gelis explained that IFAD IOE has been evaluating GEWE as a stand-alone criterion since 2011. The new 2022 IFAD Evaluation Manual includes more information about how to assess GEWE in IFAD operations, as well as those projects including Gender Transformative Approaches. The Manual calls for evaluators to consider differential impacts by gender and the way they interaction with other forms of discrimination, using an intersectional lens. These include age, race, ethnicity, social status and disability.
“The Evaluation Manual states that evaluations will assess the extent to which interventions and strategies have been gender-transformational relative to the context by addressing the root causes of gender inequality and discrimination; acting upon gender roles, norms and power relations; and promoting broader processes of social change, beyond the immediate intervention”, noted Dr Lomeña-Gelis.
Looking ahead, IOE is in the process of carrying out a Thematic Evaluation of IFAD’s support to gender equality and women’s empowerment, led by Dr Lomeña-Gelis. The evaluation will address three overarching questions. First, how relevant are IFAD gender corporate documents to the 2030 Agenda, how adaptive are they to changing environments, including IFAD’s transformational agenda and other contextual changes? Second, what added value does IFAD bring to its various stakeholders, including poor rural women and men, when it comes to promoting GEWE? Third, to what extent is IFAD adequately equipped and living up to its ambition in terms of Gender Transformative Approaches promotion and complementarity of GEWE with other themes?
UNEG is an interagency professional network that brings together the evaluation units of the UN system, including UN departments, specialized agencies, funds and programmes, and affiliated organizations. It currently has 50 such members and observers. EPE seminars are an important opportunity for all UNEG members to have an open exchange on evaluation related topics.
For further information, please contact Alexander Voccia [here]
- To access the Mainstreaming Gender-transformative Approaches at IFAD – Action Plan 2019-2025, please click here.
- To access the IFAD policy on gender equality and women's empowerment, please click here.
- To access the IFAD Evaluation Manual, please click here.