Tuesday 4 December 2012

New resource on "Mainstreaming" violence prevention

The Oxfam Guide to End Violence against Women, which I wrote earlier this year with generous input from Oxfam International affiliates around the world, has been published in a colourful version that can now be downloaded from the Oxfam Policy and Practice Blog (click on the title to get there). It can work as a useful guide for any organisation whose objectives are not primarily to end violence against women (hence the term "mainstreaming" in the title).
(Photograph: Oxfam)
Gender-based violence and, in particular, violence against women and girls are such widespread issues that no-one can afford to ignore them. For example, in Germany, one in four women have been violently assaulted by a male intimate partner - and that figure does not include more "subtle" forms of violence that are widespread, such as sexual harassment at work, at educational institutions and in other public places. Please read the guide. I'd also be delighted to take your feed-back, via the comments function below or by e-mail if you know my address ;-) Meanwhile, if you want to find out more about violence against women and what to do about it, there is plenty of information available from the UN WOMEN Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women.

Friday 9 November 2012

Gender Budgeting in Europe

The European Community of Practice on Gender Mainstreaming came together in Berlin in late September to discuss gender budgeting in the European Social Fund. It was interesting to learn about the rich experience - and vast differences - in gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting by public administrations across Europe. The keynote speeches and other conference materials are available on the activities page of the ECP Website (click on the link to get there).

Sunday 14 October 2012

Evidence of what worked, at some point, in some place

A major highlight at this year’s annual conference of the German Evaluation Society (DeGEval) was Prof. Gert Biesta’s keynote speech on research as a provider of evidence for policy. “Evidence-based” is a buzzword in development (as well as other disciplines, such as education); bilateral and multilateral donors have mobilised considerable funding to “building an evidence base”. The basic idea is that interventions should be based on the best possible evidence of what works. In his speech, Biesta unravelled the meanings of “intervention”, “evidence” and “what works” to raise fundamental questions: What role should evidence play in policy making? What kind of evidence are we talking about, anyway, and can it replace professional judgement and wider democratic deliberation?

Monday 8 October 2012

Take time to prepare evaluations!

Since September, there has been an extraordinary flurry of calls for proposals for external evaluations. This is good news; it suggests that people find it important to evaluate their work. But, upon closer examination, you'll notice that many calls for proposals envisage the evaluations to begin just a couple of weeks after the deadline for offers, and to end within a month or so. That is frustrating for busy consultants, who tend to be fully booked several months ahead. Narrow time-frames may also make it difficult for those who commission the evaluation to identify sufficiently skilled and experienced candidates. If you take evaluation seriously, then surely you want it to be done in the best possible way your resources allow? 
Over the years, I have come to appreciate time as a major element of evaluation quality.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Facilitating workshops in two and more languages

A friend recently asked me about interpreters to support a planning workshop in East Africa, reminding me that I meant to write down a few guiding thoughts on facilitation in multi-lingual contexts. It is complicated, but if it works out well it is truly empowering to those who do not speak the "dominant" language.

Thursday 30 August 2012

Participatory Statistics II

Months ago I promised I would write more about a riveting conference I attended in May 2012, "The Rigour and Potential of Participatory Statistics". (Granted, the title sounds a bit clumsy, but if you don't mention "rigour", you don't get anywhere, nowadays ;-) Unfortunately there seems to be no conference documentation (apart from the invitation) on  the web. But I have my notes!

Saturday 28 July 2012

Embracing Failure

When you have a free moment, watch this inspiring talk: David Damberger: What happens when an NGO admits failure | Video on TED.com
Damberger shares his insights from well-meaning but poorly-designed work in developing countries. Generations of aid providers repeat the same old mistakes, over and over again. Admitting failure and telling others about lessons learned would be a first step out of this vicious cycle. That is rare among development organisations, eager to keep their donors happy. But some have started publishing regular "Failure Reports" - a big bravo to the brave ones.

Saturday 30 June 2012

"Gender" is also about time

Counting women in decision-making positions is a popular way to determine whether gender is "mainstreamed" and women are empowered. That seems reasonable: where women are not or poorly represented, their perspectives and concerns are likely to be ignored.  But women's numbers are a blunt indicator: "token" women, drafted into a committee to fulfil the quota, might have little influence on decisions; and women will not necessarily defend women's gender-specific interests. In rural areas, many women simply don't have time for meaningful participation in those village development committees: they wake up before dawn to fetch water and firewood, prepare food for the day, get their children ready for school, and then spend 8, 9, 10 hours in agricultural work. After that, more water- and firewood-fetching, cooking, other houselhold tasks...  A UNIFEM report estimates that women in Sub-Saharan Africa collectively spend 40,000,000,000 (40 billion) hours a year fetching water. And that is just the water-fetching part of the picture.

Monday 28 May 2012

Greetings from Myanmar

Where the digital revolution has reached deep into the Ayeyarwady Delta (picture).  And where many people I meet are worried about the "development and democratisation industry" descending upon the country. People fear Myanmar might become "another Cambodia" - i.e. a place with many happy, wealthy expatriates running hundreds of mutually contradictory projects all over the country, recruiting highly skilled local people away from local initiatives and institutions, fostering competition instead of collaboration... If you want to read more about bad examples - as well as avenues for improving the dire record of international aid efforts -, click HERE.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Participatory Statistics and more

Last week I attended a riveting conference on participatory statistics, featuring, among others, Robert Chambers and Carlos Barahona. It'll take a few weeks until I'll find time to write more about this but I am eager to start sharing. Have a look at this video by Carlos Barahona - from an earlier conference, but very much in line with what we discussed last week. Enjoy!

Monday 19 March 2012

A "must read" on preventing partner violence

The UK Department for International Development (DFID)  has published a study by Lori Heise: "What works to prevent partner violence?" - click on the title to download it. It is a hefty document - don't be discouraged if you can't find time, just read the short and clear executive summary!
The study draws on evidence from all kinds of places, but it is meant to inform chiefly work in low and middle-income countries. It concludes that the following types of interventions work best to prevent partner violence:

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Managing for Results?

A group of Swedish researchers and development professionals has published a hefty review of evaluations on Results Based Management in Development Cooperation. The full Vähämäki/ Schmidt/ Molander study is available HERE. The authors conclude that the basic idea behind the "results agenda" - i.e. that you need to know how your development interventions perform so as to make the right decisions - is uncontested. They have found that RBM may indeed improve planning and monitoring of development interventions.

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Monitoring legal aid

A team at Tilburg University has developed a methodology to measure "access to justice". It includes plenty of useful information for people with more modest ambitions - for example, legal aid providers who want to monitor the quality of their work, or development professionals who need to assess the performance of a partner organisation. Find the full manual as a PDF file by clicking HERE. Additional material - including an interactive "wiki" on measuring access to justice - are available on the "access to justice" WEB-SITE.

Thursday 8 March 2012

DAC Evaluation Standards now in Arabic!

There is a new, trilingual version of the OECD-DAC Quality Standards for Development Evaluation: Arabic/French/English. Click HERE to find them!

Wednesday 29 February 2012

Where to go on 8 March?

There is a dedicated International Women's Day web-site - click here to find information on the day, a calendar of events where you can upload information on events you organise in your country, and resources - e.g. posters - that you can download and print out. One warning for people with a slow internet connection: animated advertisement banners may slow you down - if you don't need the pictures, better set your browser not to download images. And it may be a good idea to write to the corporate sponsors and find out whether they can support your work on women's rights! ;-)

Saturday 21 January 2012

"...and here are our raped women"

The other day a colleague told me about an evaluation in a war-prone country. The international consultant who led the exercise had called a meeting with the "beneficiaries" - women who used services designed for survivors of gender-based violence. At one point in the meeting, the consultant reportedly asked participants who had been raped to identify themselves by raising a hand.
Does this make you cringe? No? Then, please read on.

Monday 9 January 2012

End Violence against Women Now: New Learning Modules

The UN WOMEN Virtual Knowledge Centre endvawnow.org has been enriched with new modules that provide guidance for a range of interventions to end violence against women. Jasmin Rocha and I are the authors of the "Campaigns" module - check it out and feel free to comment (click on the little envelope below) if you come across anything that needs enriching or improving! You can also register on endvawnow.org to indicate your preferences in terms of topics and languages. For the time being, only part of the site is available in French and Spanish, but eventually, everything will be translated.

Thursday 5 January 2012

Wishes for 2012 starting to come through!

The other day I wrote that I would do more to share findings from evaluations. And now I find out that Oxfam Great Britain has put my whole full big evaluation report on the "We Can" campaign, recommendations and all, in the public domain: ta-taa! Click here if you're interested in campaigning on people's attitudes on gender equality.
The link takes you to the Oxfam Great Britain Policy and Practice web-site, a commendable mine of publications linked to Oxfam work around the world. 

Monday 2 January 2012

Good Resolutions for 2012

A very healthy and happy 2012 to everyone! At the beginning of this new year I realise how busy and stimulating 2011 was for me: I led two multi-country evaluations and two "strategic reviews", all in the complex fields of human rights, gender justice and peace building. Early in the year, I completed a "real-time" evaluation that had accompanied, over almost three years, the development of a facilitation method for strategic planning in conflict contexts. In October, I applied aspects of that method to plan and facilitate a multi-stakeholder, multi-lingual and inter-continental strategic planning workshop - an exhilarating experience. Between Christmas and New Year's Day, my occasional associate Jasmin Rocha and I made time to finally write up our article that presents the methodology we developed in 2010 to assess quality in work with survivors of violence against women.
What are my resolutions for 2012? I can think of a few: