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20.01.2020 - Interview: Gender equality, environments and marginalized voices in evaluations

Foto of Salas-Rodríguez, Shravanti Reddy, Anne Stephens and Ellen Lewis
f.l.t.r: N. Salas-Rodríguez, S. Reddy, A. Stephens and E. Lewis

The UN Women Independent Evaluation Service has released a new evaluation guide on the Inclusive Systemic Evaluation for Gender equality, Environments and Marginalized voices (ISE4GEMs) approach. The authors Ellen Lewis and Anne Stephens of Ethos of Engagement Consulting and Shravanti Reddy of UN Women hosted two workshops on the approach at DEval in Bonn last week, together with Nataly Salas-Rodríguez from DEval, Costa Rica. We had a chat with them during their visit to learn more about the ISE4GEM-approach.

What are distinguishing features of the ISE4GEMs-approach?

Ellen Lewis: Inclusive Systemic Evaluation for Gender equality, Environments and Marginalized voices (ISE4GEMs) is grounded in systems thinking, the complexity of the SDGs and the overlapping social identities that are represented in any evaluation. The guide is intended to support evaluators either as an approach, meaning it gives you ideas to incorporate into your traditional practices or as a methodology, which provides you a step-by-step process in conducting an evaluation (which should be adapted for the context). However you choose to use it, ISE4GEMs moves away from the idea of conducting evaluations primarily for accountability or learning against specific planned results, towards acceptance of the reality that “we do not know what we do not know” during any programme planning or implementation process.

A group of people smiling around a table
Anne Stephens with workshop participants

Why did you decide to put a focus on the three topics gender equality, environments and marginalized voices?

Shravanti Reddy: As an interconnected global society, we are at a new crisis point where it is essential to create an equitable and sustainable way of life that ensures access to opportunities, rights and obligations while also protecting the environment for current and future generations. What that means practically is that human beings and our flora and fauna must all have the equal rights and protection to thrive and be safe.

How is the approach suited to evaluating the SDGs?

Anne Stephens: The SDGs, because they represent the complexity of a global society, require new and innovative approaches and methodologies to help us take a more holistic approach to identify problems, creating interventions and analysing impact and social change. They also explicitly identify these dimensions as cross-cutting across all SDGs, making it important to incorporate them and analyse them in all efforts towards sustainable development. We believe that ISE4GEMs can contribute to this effort and we welcome learning from those in the field who might use it, both in terms of what has worked well and what have been the challenges.

Nataly, you tested the approach in a case study in Colombia for a DEval-evaluation on gender equality on post-conflict contexts. How did the case study benefit from the approach?

Nataly Salas-Rodríguez: This case study was the first time ISE4GEMs was used in a complex post-conflict context so it was a good project to evaluate using the ISE4GEMs methodology since it is an approach which uses a comprehensive analysis of complexity. The case study benefited from using ISE4GEMs in several ways. First, by doing a broader analysis of the gender dimension, we were able to go beyond the basic gender scope that the project had as well as providing capacity development on gender issues for the project staff. Second, on analysing the environments dimension, this included not only the natural environment but also the social/economic post-conflict environment which determines the boundaries of the evaluation itself. This type of analysis gives the evaluation a broader understanding of the limitations of the project and the risks and benefits its implementation might have.  Due to the positive experiences from this pilot evaluation in Columbia we will consider further ways for FOCELAC to use ISE4GEMS in Latin America.

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