RE: Developing effective, inclusive and gender responsive MEAL systems | Eval Forward

In order to develop effective, inclusive and gender-sensitive MEAL systems, it would probably be appropriate to question the level of available and deployable resources:

1. First, the question of human resources. What human resources are available locally? If we are looking for people who practice evaluation and who have expertise in gender issues, of course in our countries this expertise exists, but where is it at present?

They are in the United Nations system, they are in some international NGOs, they are in some ministries. Consequently, if we are looking for people who have expertise in evaluation and gender, and who are available to conduct evaluation missions, we are quickly in trouble.

This is reflected in the quality of the evaluation work carried out on gender issues, which has a lot of weaknesses, because the people who carry out these evaluations do not have a good grasp of gender analysis tools. These people do not have sufficient expertise to analyse the complexity that is generally found in these issues. As a result, we will see reports that address the issue of men's and women's participation, but do not address other issues such as social norms and practices that are harmful to girls and women, unequal power relations and participation in decision-making spheres, the sexual division of labour and the workload of men and women, gender-based violence, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and abuse, ...

Sometimes gender mainstreaming is done around one axis or part of the deliverable, and thus sacrifices the transversality of gender mainstreaming. Thus, gender is only found in a dedicated section, whereas it should be found in all the new analysis sections, whatever the part of the work. Moreover, the commissioning of the evaluations is itself responsible. Gender is commissioned as an additional element to an evaluation, whereas it is the evaluation process that should take gender into account. The evaluator should analyse gender relevance, gender effectiveness, .... and not do a gender section.

Have the resources responsible for monitoring and evaluation in the ministries been trained in gender? I leave it to each of you to provide the answer that applies to your field.

2. The "time" resource is also to be taken into account. There is always a lack of time to carry out the required activities.

Let's take common tools as an example:

  • The activity profile of stakeholders in a community or the profile of access to and control over resources are really basic tools in gender analysis: in a community, it takes about 3 hours to build this in a participatory way with the participants on a site and therefore it requires time.
  • The daily agenda profile of men and women doing the same activity in the same context, a tool that allows to highlight the workload of men and women, divided between production issues, reproduction issues, political and social-community activities, also takes a lot of time to build.
  • Monitoring and evaluation frameworks often do not integrate gender, and the evaluation team must then first construct what might have been the framework for monitoring gender change, before 'looking' for the effects and impacts that may have occurred! All this takes time.


3. There is also the issue of financial resources. The financial resources foreseen to carry out gender activities remain insufficient. What financial resources are the stakeholders prepared to mobilise? Up to now, as much as we may say, gender has tended to be perceived and practised as an appendix, as something that is added to something that already exists. You write a project and then you come and look at what you can add on gender issues.

As a result, the budgets allocated to gender issues are usually very low, which does not allow for the real activities that should be carried out. Exercises such as gender budgeting are not undertaken when projects are in formulation!

The mobilisation of these three resources forms a set of challenges that mean that gender issues are not really taken into account in projects, programmes and policies but also in evaluations. How much time do we have to make such systems work?

This observation on the consideration of gender issues also applies to other vulnerable populations: people with disabilities, people undergoing forced migration, indigenous populations, children, etc.

Thaddée Yossa

[translated from French]