Saturday 21 December 2013

Resources on gender, and gender & corruption

In 2012 and 2013, I carried out short series of gender sensitisation and gender mainstreaming training for organisations that work on development, human rights and governance issues. Some of the materials that have inspired the training are in the public domain. My favourites are:

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Scared away by jargon?

Last month I discovered the new IDS-BRIDGE resource pack on Gender and Social Movements (scroll down to my 11 October post for all the links). I was so excited about the new resource that I distributed the handy "in brief bulletin" document to all prospective participants of a gender sensitisation workshop (with NGO staff relatively new to gender issues) - as a preparatory reading.

I should have known better.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Documenting qualitative comparative analysis and process tracing

I am delighted to announce that I have started a dedicated blog on Wolfgang Stuppert's and my work on a DFID-commissioned review of evaluations of interventions related to violence against women and girls. We will use qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) and process tracing to examine the evaluation approaches and methods used in up to 100 evaluations completed since 2008. 

Since QCA and process tracing are still relatively new in evaluation, we have decided to document our work on the new blog, which is supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) We will post the main steps of our work, every few weeks. Just like this blog here, it includes a "follow by e-mail" function, if you wish to be alerted when new posts come up.

Friday 11 October 2013

Exciting new resource pack for social movements

BRIDGE has published a rich multi-media resource pack on gender and social movements. Find the full set on, a beautifully designed, dedicated website. I particularly recommend the overview report and, for busy people, the brief bulletin that summarises key points.

Tuesday 1 October 2013

WANTED: evaluation reports and contacts

The UK Department for International Development (DFID) has commissioned a review of evaluation approaches and methods for violence against women and girls (VAWG) interventions in development and humanitarian contexts ('the Review').  The Review will provide recommendations as to how evaluations in this complex field can be designed and implemented to yield maximum use. It will use qualitative comparative analysis and process tracing to detect the drivers of effective evaluations of VAWG interventions, and describe good practice. Review findings will be widely disseminated to stakeholders and made publically available.

The Review team, led by international consultants Michaela Raab and Wolf Stuppert, plans to analyse up to 100 evaluations. Since relatively few evaluations have been published, we need your support in identifying and sharing those that you are aware of – including unpublished evaluations. The evaluation reports will be read by the Review team only, so please do not hesitate to share evaluations even if you have doubts about their quality or about their findings. Findings will be presented in an aggregated form that will prevent readers from identifying specific evaluations.

If you have access to evaluation reports that meet the criteria outlined below, we would be grateful if you could forward them to this address. The criteria are:
  • Published and unpublished evaluations of development or humanitarian programmes that (i) either focus on preventing or responding to any form of violence against women and girls (VAWG), (ii) or include a VAWG component as part of a wider initiative (for example, on human rights, humanitarian protection, peace building, post-conflict reconstruction or HIV/AIDS)
  • Evaluations that have been completed between January 2008 and October 2013
  • Report in English.
Furthermore, we would be grateful for your identifying persons the review team could interview to find out about their experience with VAWG-related evaluations. You are kindly requested to provide the name and contact details (e-mail address and/ or phone number) of
  • Evaluation commissioners (for example, programme officers who have commissioned VAWG-related evaluations)
  • Evaluators (both external consultants and internal evaluators who have carried out VAWG-related evaluations
  • Leading members of VAWG-related initiatives or organisations 
The Review report will individually credit everyone who contributes evaluation reports and data (unless you wish not to be mentioned). We would be grateful if you could send us your response by 20 October. In addition, you are encouraged to forward this message to others who may have access to VAWG-related evaluations and professionals in the field. 

We are looking forward to learning from the evaluations you will share!

Monday 30 September 2013

Update on OECD/ DAC Evaluation standards and advice

The OECD Development Assistance Committee appears to have moved part of its evaluation pages to new sites. That means that some links in older OECD/DAC-related posts here may be broken - my apologies! Some day I will get help to update all links since 2008, when I started blogging. In the meantime, here are a few important links that work:

Thursday 5 September 2013

Avis aux francophones - good news for French readers

Le guide Oxfam « Eradiquer les violences faites aux femmes » vient de paraître en version française. Vous le trouvez, en version PDF, sur le site d’Oxfam international que voici ; la version anglaise est disponible. Si vous avez une connection un peu lente, vous pouvez aussi regarder la version anglaise directement sur ce site. Bonne lecture !

Thursday 29 August 2013

Conducting qualitative interviews

I am working on a publication on qualitative interviews – but it’ll be in German and it’ll take ages to complete because it is one of those spare-time not-for-profit projects. Since a friend is about to embark on a round of interviews we have designed together, I have decided to summarise some bits in English. Here they are! 

Thursday 25 July 2013

Evaluating peace building activites

Just in case this has escaped your attention: Last year the OECD Development Assistance Committee published comprehensive guidelines on Evaluating Peacebuilding Activities. Click on the title to download the document, or else read it on-line here: Evaluating Peacebuilding.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Politics of Evidence - an abstract

I have submitted a conference report on the "Politics of Evidence" Conference in Brighton (April 2013) to a German evaluation journal. Check this blog for an announcement of its publication date! Meanwhile, here's an abstract in English:
More than 100 specialists participated in the ‘Politics of Evidence’ conference at the Institute of Development Studies in April 2013. The main theme was the growing tendency to tie funding for international development and transformative initiatives to the use of pre-defined instruments (‘evidence artifacts’) for effectiveness and impact assessment – and how to deal with this trend.
The participants were in favour of well-informed planning and robust monitoring as a source of information for effective project steering, and as way to expand the knowledge base. However, when the use of a narrow spectrum of specific instruments becomes an obligation, distortion and loss of effectiveness may occur. A key conclusion was the call for rigorous relevance and relevant rigour, i.e.: the main criterion for the choice of instruments for project monitoring should be the extent to which they generate practical use.

Here is the link to the conference and to the papers delivered by Rosalind Eyben and Brendan Whitty respectively. (Click on the names to get to the paper.) Additional resources are available on the Politics of Evidence site under "Resources".
By the way, the notes of a somewhat smaller but equally interesting event at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in Brighton are also available on the web now. The Centre for Development Impact has hosted an "Impact Innovation and Learning Event: Towards a Research and Practice Agenda for the Future". Click on the title to get to their web-site, which includes the keynote speakers' power point presentations as well as a list of 18 action points. I also recommend the site of the IDS Centre for Development Impact, a fairly new group that brings together academic research and evaluation practice. To be continued...

Saturday 29 June 2013

Recruitment by Quiz?

An international agency has launched a new web-based "experts' roster". The organisation has an important mission and I have the kind of expertise they look for, so it seems natural to register.
The opening page of the roster looks friendly and clear. I complete a few text boxes with basic data on my life and work.
The following step is tedious -

Saturday 25 May 2013

A rough guide to building monitoring systems

Today, I wrote up a few lines for a colleague to summarise the key steps of building monitoring systems. For the case the same question pops up again, I have saved my response here:
Indicators and data collection instruments are just one aspect of a good monitoring system. Most importantly, early in (or ideally before) the actual project, people should sit down and think: 

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Practical tips: note-taking during interviews

Taking notes in "qualitative" interviews, for example at the occasion of evaluations, seems a fairly simple and straightforward thing to do. Over the years, I have discovered that people take notes in many different ways. The way that works best for me is demanding on the interviewer, but quite efficient: no/ little need for extra transcription time after the interview!

Monday 13 May 2013

Free webinars on evaluation available on the YouTube Channel of the American Evaluation Association.
The webinars are in the first row of the page that opens when you click on "YouTube Channel" above. The second row is filled with other interesting videos, such as Julia Coffman's speech on evaluator's mistakes and the importance of sharing them with others so that they don't repeat them. Enjoy!

Monday 6 May 2013

What men can do to end gender violence

An impressive TED talk, not only for beginners - click HERE to see it. Jackson Katz encourages "bystanders" to stop "laughing along or pretending not to hear it". The speech is not totally respectful of feminist organisations (shame on you if you're more interested in the video now ;-) but it is definitely worth watching.

Saturday 4 May 2013

Quotes from the "Politics of Evidence" Conference

In late April, the "Politics of Evidence" conference brought together (at the IDS in Brighton) development and evaluation practitioners from a rich mix of professional backgrounds and countries. Some of the papers presented have been available on the internet, such as Rosalynd Eyben's article on the The power of results and evidence artefacts. Eyben's paper is about tools initially designed to stimulate critical thinking which have mutated into instruments of confusion: For example, the log-frame was built to encourage people to reflect on the assumptions behind their "project logic" - but in most contemporary versions, the "assumptions" column has disappeared.

Saturday 20 April 2013

Evidence artefacts - an example

This is a case study prepared for the "Big Push Forward" conference next week (for links to the conference, see the extra post below). 
The example is from a real organisation, a group working on human rights.

Coming soon: Critique of results and evidence artefacts

Next week I'll attend the Big Push Forward conference at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in Brighton. For those who can't make it there, a few interesting papers are already available on the web (for example Carrots and sticks: Results and evidence artefacts and their effects | The Big Push Forward).
The final plenary session will be "live streamed" on 24 April at 15:45 (3:45 pm) UK time, under this LINK. Watch this space for post-conference musings in mid-May.

Saturday 2 March 2013

Rigor = being honest about the limits

This is another instalment of my "moans about poor evaluation practice" series, triggered by a recent review of evaluation reports in the complex field of governance and human rights.
One of the reports I read used a "traffic light" system: for each evaluation question, the authors decided whether what they found was good ("green light"), in need of some improvement ("yellow light"), or bad ("red light"). That in itself made me feel a bit queasy. Does a "red light" mean an organisation has to drop everything and stop operating? Does that form of visualisation pay any respect to the efforts people put into their work? Yes, evaluators are there to assess the "value" of what they are supposed to evaluate, but does that entitle us to make pronouncements as to what must stop and what can go on? I am not sure.

Sunday 10 February 2013

Measuring time with a yardstick?

Much of my work on monitoring and evaluation is with organisations that work on human rights and governance. It is harder for them to show they make a difference than for people who build roads or wells. Building a road is complicated, but the builders have reasonable control over the process and at the end they can say, "we have built a 50-kilometre road". Human rights and governance work is more indirect: it is not the intervention of  human rights organisation "X" that frees a prisoner - it is a prison guard, the last piece in a huge puzzle of actors and actions. It is not campaign Y that ends domestic violence in a woman's life - it is herself, when she leaves an abusive relationship, or the abusive partner when he stops battering, for reasons that are far beyond the reach of campaign "Y". And you can't blame, say, Amnesty International if the US government fails to close down the Guantánamo detention camp.

Friday 4 January 2013

5 reasons why gender mainstreaming remains important

Gender mainstreaming and work to end violence against women (VAW) have been on development agencies' agendas for decades. Why are they still important? Some of us feel that "everyone" in development and human rights organisations are well aware of the issues. But the truth is that in organisations without any explicit focus on gender equality or gender justice, the levels of awareness for gender-based discrimination (and the need to end it) tend to be uneven. Efforts to promote gender equality remain limited and often isolated. Some would prefer to drop "gender" altogether, busy as they feel with all those other issues that must be "mainstreamed" - good governance, environmental protection, HIV/AIDS prevention, "you name it!"
But there are at least five reasons why "gender mainstreaming" must continue:
  1. Organisations that are committed to universal human rights have a responsibility to ensure their work respects and promotes human rights. Women’s rights are human rights, enshrined in widely accepted international treaties as the the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, 1979). Any rights-based approach that neglects women's and girls' rights is inadequate.
  2. International movements and campaigns rally large numbers of people. Women and girls make up the majority of the world population (although in India and China, sex-selective abortion and infanticide are skewing sex ratios towards boys). Opportunities are likely to be missed and mistakes will be made if planners, implementers and evaluators ignore women's interests and needs, and refrain from engaging women as interlocutors, collaborators and allies.
  3. Many development and human rights agencies are into education and campaigning - i.e., they attempt to spread ideas around, and to mobilise others to join them in their cause. The messages they convey, implicitly or explicitly, influence people's minds: research has shown that campaigning can reinforce or weaken people's value systems - broadly speaking, what they consider to be "good" or "bad", "right" or "wrong". (See for example the report Common Cause - The Case for Working with our Cultural Values. I'll summarise it in a future post!) Hence, it is important to avoid reinforcing values that condone discrimination and other violations against women which would be in stark contradiction with the development and human rights goals most of us defend.
  4. Gender-based violence is not only one of the most pervasive human rights violations, it also jeopardises development. For example, large numbers of women and girls (as well as a smaller proportion of men and boys) have experienced sexual extortion in schools, health services and police stations, with dire consequences for their physical well-being, their mental health and their social status. Getting girls to school is right, but if they risk their lives because teachers and classmates are likely to abuse them, something is deeply wrong. Gender-blindness (sometimes euphemistically called "gender neutrality") helps to turn a blind eye on the bleak situation that an estimated one-third of the world's women face.
  5. In terms of efficiency, any organisation has an interest in ensuring that staff members and volunteers enjoy equal opportunities to unfold their full potential at work, regardless of their sex (and of the size and form of their households)
These are the main reasons that have come to my mind. Feel free to add more by using the comments function below!
PS: 2012 was my "gender year": I carried out several consultancies linked to mainstreaming gender into evaluations, into development programmes, and into the life of organisations without any particular focus on women's rights. In addition, I wrote a guide for Oxfam International on mainstreaming one aspect of its efforts for gender justice: its commitment to end violence against women (VAW). (Download its English version here; translations are in progress.)