Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Less is more - also in evaluation questions

Writing evaluation terms of reference (TOR) - that is, the document that tells the evaluators what they are supposed to find out - is not a simple exercise. Arguably, the hardest part are the evaluation questions. That section of evaluation TOR tends to grow longer and longer. This is a problem because: Abundant detailed evaluations questions may lock the evaluator into the perspective of those who have drawn up the TOR, turning the evaluation into an exercise with quite predictable outcomes that limit learning opportunities for everyone involved. 

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Proud to be a mentor of Nurshaim Tilenbaeva

Nurshaim Tilenbaeva was my second mentee under the Global Change Leaders Programme. Mentoring Nurshaim, I embarked on a learning journey about about Kyrgyzstan, where Nurshaim lives. I do hope I'll get a chance to travel there! 
Photograph by Kusekhaya

There was one day when I was moved to tears by Nurshaim's honesty in describing difficulties she was facing at the time, at a different work place. Reading her narrative of that conversation now, I remember interviews I have carried out as part of a recent study on gender policies and practice in four German organisations. A couple of persons told me about a leader in their organisation shedding tears in public - which they described as a display of emotional intelligence and an empathetic form of leadership. Interesting! Meanwhile, as I have accumulated more experience in mentoring and coaching, I have learned to empathise differently - but I still get visibly moved when a mentee tells me about her success! 

And here are Nurshaim's answers to my questions: 

1) What is the main issue that you are currently working on?

As a National Professional Officer at WHO, I am responsible for supporting the Government in improving reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health in the country. One of the main issues I currently work on is in relation to reducing maternal mortality in my country, which is still one of the highest in the WHO European region. Maternal mortality is not only a concern of the health sector, many associated factors play a role. Those are social, economical, systemic and gender inequality ones. My work focus addresses this issue from the policy angle.  Thus, evidence-based best practices and systemic approaches to inform policy development and implementation are the key directions of my work. 

2) What makes you an excellent person to work on these issues? 

Above all, I feel strongly about this issue and want to make a change. I believe no women in the 21st century should die while  being pregnant or during  childbirth. However, we still face issues of health inequalities in many parts of the world, including in my country. Other than that, I was fortunate to acquire skills and knowledge in my field from many distinguished opportunities in my life, including those from short courses, degree programs, fellowships, exchange programs from different parts of the world. Such experience not only enriches oneself, but also strengthens your capacity and motivates to work further to finally reach your goal. And finally, I was fortunate to have great mentors who inspired me, believed in me and supported me in my endeavours. 

3) How do you deal with obstacles and setbacks?

Setbacks and obstacles are perhaps essential ingredients for success. They teach us lessons, make us stronger and make us rise with a new motivation to succeed. Giving up is the worst strategy one can adapt. I try to embrace obstacles and setbacks and learn from them. This really challenges me to try even harder until I reach my goal. Never being afraid to fail and keep trying is important. Furthermore, not being too strict to oneself and self-care could be the best strategies to overcome setbacks. 

4) What is your advice to younger women who want to drive change?

Believing in oneself is the key, but also not being afraid to ask for support, provide support when you can to others is equally important. There are many more well-wishers and supporters than we tend to think. Being open to opportunities, new experiences and challenging oneself helps to grow and develop. Avoid being in a comfort zone for too long and embrace all the adventures coming along stimulates more than anything. Self-care should never be ignored.