Thursday, 24 November 2011

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Research on Gender Relations

There has been an encouraging flurry of research projects, "baseline" studies and evaluations on gender relations.  It seems that in recent years, hundreds of thousands - maybe millions - of people have been interviewed. They have been asked what they think and do about the roles of men and women, girls and boys (and maybe people who fit into an in-between category) - in the household, at school, at work, in politics and other aspects of life in society. I suspect that quite some people may have undergone several interviews by different research teams, especially in those parts of the world that receive extra donor attention - my mental map shows big blotches of donor interest around Bukavu, Goma, Kabul, Phnom Penh, to name a few places.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A commendable series of "webinars"

For free on-line seminars on evaluation, click here: Equity-focused evaluations | MY M&E! I particularly recommend the 22 November instalment with Patricia Rogers and Richard Hummelbrunner - on how to make log-frames more effective for complex interventions.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A women's classic, 2011 edition!

Hooray - "Our Bodies, Ourselves" has been updated, 40 years after the first edition of this classic on women's health and sexuality. Find the table of contents, the introduction, readers' praise and more by clicking on this link: Our Bodies, Ourselves 2011 Edition - Our Bodies Ourselves

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Tips for Multi-Everything Facilitation

Just got back from an exhilarating multi-country, multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder, multi-language planning workshop. So much "multi" can make workshop planning quite an adventure: Will the participants understand each other, across cultures, disciplines, languages and perspectives? Will those who come with the money listen to those who come with the expertise? Will the participants reach any agreement or useful conclusions within a short (2-day) spell of time? In the end, things appeared to work out beautifully. I see three major factors for such success:

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Evaluating efficiency in campaigning

The OECD Development Co-operation Directorate (DAC) defines efficiency as follows: "Efficiency measures the outputs -- qualitative and quantitative -- in relation to the inputs. It is an economic term which signifies that the aid uses the least costly resources possible in order to achieve the desired results. This generally requires comparing alternative approaches to achieving the same outputs, to see whether the most efficient process has been adopted. When evaluating the efficiency of a programme or a project, it is useful to consider the following questions: Were activities cost-efficient? Were objectives achieved on time? Was the programme or project implemented in the most efficient way compared to alternatives?"  (DAC criteria for evaluating development assistance)

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Aid Effectiveness?

An incisive article about the part donors play in development effectiveness - just click on the link at the end of this paragraph. Owen Barder shows that government donors have fulfilled only one of the promise they made to increase aid effectiveness. Good reading! In my view, monitoring systems and evaluations should always factor in the donor's role. Their action - or non-action - may have just as much (or even more) weight than anything that happens "on the ground".
What Happens When Donors Fail to Meet Their Commitments? | Owen Barder | Global Development: Views from the Center

Monday, 12 September 2011

Good reading on "results-based" approaches vs. complexity

Highly commendable: an incisive article on results-based approaches in development. The author, Harry Jones, explains how ill-conceived application of "results-based management" tools may yield an overly simplistic picture of reality. Unwanted "side effects" are likely to occur. Click on the link to read the full article:
Overseas Development Institute (ODI) Blog : Managing better for results, not just measuring them better: lessons on complexity for the results agenda

Friday, 9 September 2011

Monitoring on Women's Rights

A few days ago I shared a link to AWID's recent publications on monitoring and evaluation for women's rights. To tell from the enthusiastic response it received, it fills a gap. You can find the publication by clicking on its title: Strengthening Monitoring and Evaluation for Women's Rights: Thirteen Insights for Women's Organisations It is part of an eminently legible and commendable series written by Srilatha Batliwala and Alexandra Pittman. They have also published Strengthening Monitoring and Evaluation for Women's Rights: Twelve Insights for Donors and a broader critique of monitoring and evaluation in development co-operation on women's rights, Capturing Change in Women's Realities.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Attitude Change on VAW


I had a useful conversation with a social psychologist last month. What follows below is what I have distilled from my notes.
Violence against women is closely linked to individual attitudes and social norms on women’s and men’s roles in society.

Friday, 1 July 2011

On Jargon, again!

The evaluators Patricia Rogers and Jane Davidson share a blog called Genuine Evaluation - about "real, genuine, authentic, practical evaluation". And they have posted this glorious video from Blackadder, a timelessly mad British TV series from the 1980s. It's about one of my pet hates - abusive use of jargon! Click HERE, enjoy... and don't worry if you don't get everything...

Friday, 24 June 2011

New fund for "women's leadership"

The Dutch government has launched a new fund, which is to replace the MDG3 fund. It is called FLOW and it holds EUR 70 million for initiatives "to strengthen the opportunities for women and girls". Full guidelines are available HERE. The deadline for applications is 29 July - just a month from now!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Efficiency vs. Sustainability?

The recent months have been so busy with exhilarating complex work; I hardly find any time to share any of the many inspiring thoughts I keep coming across! Here is a beautiful one: is efficiency good for sustainable development? As Robert Lukesch, a regional development specialist, pointed out at a recent DeGEval conference (German Evaluation Association), redundancy, i.e. having more than one set of resources to perform a certain activity, is a vital feature in living organisms and ecosystems. For example, we have two kidneys so that we can continue to live if one of them fails.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Evaluating Advocacy by Evaluating Advocates

A charming idea! An article by Steven Teles and Mark Schmitt in the Stanford Social Innovation Review acknowledges that evaluating advocacy is notoriously difficult. Advocacy has many dimensions and it intervenes in complex political processes - hence it may take decades until the desired policy change takes place. Teles and Schmitt say, rather than getting impatient about initiatives that don't produce any tangible results within the typical one- to three-year grant period, donors should evaluate the advocates: "Evaluating advocacy organizations means paying close attention to the value they generate for others, rather than only focusing on their direct impacts." Great idea! A longer version of the article is available on the Hewlett Foundation website.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

No more nameless faces

The latest copy of Forced Migration (FMR), a free review published by the Refugee Studies Centre (Oxford) comes with a fresh look on photographs of "poor people": many pictures are edited ("pixellated") so that people's faces cannot be recognised. This is wonderful, because it drives home the point that the dignity and security of every human person must be respected. As the editors put it, "FMR is distributed around the world in print and is freely accessible online. (...) We ourselves have no way to be sure that the people in the photographs could have given truly informed consent for their image to be used by us. Would they have understood that their image might be seen by people all around the world, and that it would live on the virtual world for potentially many, many years?"

Monday, 4 April 2011

Please stop distracting busy people

Just got back from South East Asia, where I have advised a human rights organisation. I had a hard time trying to make sense of the reports the organisation wrote to its donors. The information was sorted into three categories: "outputs", "outcomes" and "impact". For example, the fact that they organised a workshop was an "output"; the number of people who participated in the workshop was an "outcome", and the amount of extra knowledge people seemed to have after the workshop was called "impact". You can imagine that it was not easy to read those reports.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Happy Anniversary to Us!

It's the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, a day of celebration and commemoration "invented" by Clara Zetkin. Clara Zetkin was a leading German and European socialist politician until she had to flee from Nazi Germany in 1932.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

What online activism can learn from community organising

Rootwork is a group (a firm?) specialised in internet technology for non-profit organisations. An April 2010 article on their web-page has been sitting on top of my bookmarks for months, waiting to be shared here. It is called What online activism can learn from community organising (click on the title to get to the full article). The author, Ivan Boothe, reminds people working on social change of five key aspects in effective community organising (and any broader form of campaigning, I believe): movement-building, strategy, community accountability, going where the people are, and cultivating leadership. Technology, he points out, is not a strategy in itself a web-site or an e-mail petition, for example, only make sense if they are part of a broader strategy, carried forward by committed people who talk and listen to the people they seek to convince.
By the way, the Tactical Technology Collective provides excellent information on how to use the internet for campaigns, in clear step-by-step guides one can download for free.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Money for Humanitarian Innovation- use it to support girls!

The Humanitarian Innovation Fund has been launched, with its own site and acronym HIF. It describes itself as "a landmark grant-making fund to support organisations working in countries struck by humanitarian crises, such as Haiti or Pakistan, to develop, test and share new technologies and processes that will make humanitarian aid more effective and cost-efficient in the future." The first call for proposals is out. Organisations with ideas, apply! I trust there is plenty of room for humanitarian innovation, especially when it comes to ensuring women and girls can fully participate in humanitarian work, their voices are listened to and their needs are catered for.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Effectiveness in art and in peace building

I have been meaning to jot down notes on this for months but things have been so busy...
Late last year the German Institute for Foreign Relations (known here as IfA) organised a day-long research dialogue with twelve women and men - half of them professionally involved in peace building, the other half in art. I had the privilege to participate as a representative of the peace building crowd. The idea, devised by researcher Vera Kahlenberg, was to explore together what "effectiveness" ("Wirksamkeit" in German) meant within our respective disciplines and practice.
Vera Kahlenberg divided us into "mixed" pairs, gave us a handful of broad questions and audio recorders, and sent us off, two by two, into quiet rooms with the assignment to dialogue for two hours. I was matched up with Silvina Der-Meguerditchian, an Argentinian-Armenian artist living in Berlin. I am at a loss trying to describe her rich and intricate work - take a look at her web site!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Systems Approaches in Evaluation

The Evaluation Unit of GIZ (ex-GTZ - the organisation implementing a large portion of Germany's official development co-operation) held an international conference early this week, with the title "Systemic Approaches in Evaluation" (25-26 January). It was a huge jamboree bringing together some 200, predominantly German, participants, plus guests from around the world, who exchanged views on "traditional" methods vs. "systemic approaches" vs. "sistematisación".

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Warmth and Attention

At this cold time of the year, at least for inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere, I realise that I have not yet written about work that I did last year with my occasional associate Jasmin Rocha, PhD candidate in social sciences. We visited organisations working with women survivors of violence in Mozambique, Guatemala and Nicaragua to find out what they considered to be "quality services" for survivors of violence against women. The purpose of this "sense-making" exercise was to generate ideas for an international NGO as to how they could best monitor their grantees' work in this extremely complex field.