The monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of development projects, programs and policies with a gender-transforming approach has become an important entry point for measuring and valuing actions that seek equal rights and opportunities for men and women.
At the same time, there is an increasing recognition of the value of gender and equity analysis in the management of organizations linked to sustainable development. It has been demonstrated that institutions can have greater impact on the recipients of development programs, when their own processes, structures and programming are democratic and equitable.
This is how some M&E methodologies (quali- and quantitative methods for collecting and analyzing data) have merged with Organizational Development (OD) tools (i.e., Appreciative Inquiry, Institutional Change Framework) to achieve a better understanding of organizations. As Campbell and McClintock1 predicted in 2002, “OD-based evaluation can be an important tool in the process of creating dynamic and self-renewable organizations”.
We at redWIM, the LAC Women in Management network, have confirmed this hypothesis in each M&E experience that shows positive changes in the lives of women. Since its creation two decades ago, redWIM has been working from different fronts to help identify the changes that organizations require so that their strategies, processes and operations are gender-equitable and contribute to the sustainability of their results.
The celebration of the network 20th anniversary in Cali, Colombia was the right moment to reflect on the achievements and on how we can act to overcome the persistent gender gaps in organizations and thus contribute more to equitable development.
Among the emerging issues and the questions that we must answer in the short term are:
What are we trying to change in terms of gender equality?
As our founding partner Lidia Heller discusses in her editorial article (in Spanish), despite the legal, political, social and cultural advances of women in the last 20 years, situations of inequality and injustice for women persist. Most indicators of gender gaps show us that we are not making enough effort to achieve gender equality.
Dr. Heller identifies three avenues for change: culture, organizational practices, and individual behaviors. As redWIM, we have the firm intention of working in these three areas to contribute to social change.
What opportunities are available from the field of M&E to contribute to these changes?
It is a fact that we must move from rhetoric to action, focusing on what we want to change, with participatory methods centered on people. For the work in M&E, the development of competencies is prioritized, especially the soft ones that will help to move from the technical skills of knowing “what to do and how to do it” to the “how to be” evaluators with full awareness and decision to promote and act on the transformations needed to achieve an egalitarian society.
The redWIM, together with ReLAC and the regional evaluation networks AGDEN (Africa) and CoE-SA (South Asia), as members of EvalGender+, have built a Competency Profile for evaluators and change actors that promote and apply the gender perspective with cultural sensitivity in evaluations. This tool, which is under continuous review and update, will strengthen capacity building programs and is expected to facilitate gender equity work and evaluation in other regions.
Other emerging issues
The Cali meeting also allowed us to reflect collectively on other actions that, from the field of evaluation, could contribute to moving more rapidly towards social change:
- Promote transformative evaluations, incorporating organizational diagnoses and change methodologies with a gender and feminist perspective.
- Periodically carry out participatory feminist reflections in development programs and projects that allow to detect how the change is taking place in the lives of women, with the possibility of scaling the results.
- Promote greater use of theories of change in programs and projects with adequate quantitative and qualitative indicators that facilitate measurements in a manner relevant to the realities of the context evaluated.
- Enrich the current evaluation methodologies for development with the inputs obtained in studies and work carried out by feminist organizations for gender mainstreaming. That is, breaking traditional evaluation paradigms and still delivering rigorous and useful evidence for transformative change.
To paraphrase Campbell and McClintock, “the evaluation, as a good OD, should make both donors and managers of development programs and projects feel a little uncomfortable, introspective and possibly a bit defensive, as well as appreciative and curious”.
1 Campbell, M. y McClintock (2002). Shall we dance? Program Evaluation Meets OD in the Nonprofit Sector.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Fabiola Amariles is a Colombian economist, educator, and organizational development professional specialized in gender equality issues and women empowerment in developing countries. She was associated for many years with the international agricultural research system CGIAR, where she worked in participatory research and capacity development. She facilitates feminist reflective processes for self-empowerment of women. She has led evaluation teams in Latin America, Asia, and Africa and has coordinated organizational/institutional analysis with a gender perspective.
Fabiola is the founder and current CEO of Learning for Impact, with offices in Weston, FL, USA and Cali, Colombia. She is currently a member of the Management Group of the global partnership EvalGender+, Former Board member of RedWIM, the Latin American and Caribbean Women in Management Network.