Addressing gender in impact evaluation

Gender should be a fundamental concern for all those who design and assess the impact of development projects, DLP Research Fellow Gillian Fletcher argues in a new paper.

Addressing gender in impact evaluation: What should be considered? (PDF) is published by the Overseas Development Institute. A key message is that an ‘add women and stir’ approach is not enough. Demonstrating gender impact is more complex than simply showing that the number of women participants has increased.

Dr Fletcher argues that while the word ‘gender’ features in many funding documents, too often it is used as a synonym for ‘working with women’  and conflates gender with biological sex difference. She cites the work of leading gender theorists who argue that this tendency to treat gender as a category, rather than to recognise it as a process of judgement and values, gets in the way of attempts to tackle the underlying causes of inequality.

Gender and gender-related injustice is a feature of all interventions, whatever the focus, be it agriculture, capacity building, disaster management, education, health or peacebuilding. Good intervention design will identify critical inequalities and conduct a needs assessment that clearly identifies gender-related issues. If this feeds directly into the programme theory, it will be easier to assess the intervention’s gender-related impact – and the project will be more likely to have a positive gender-related impact.

Gender and sexuality are intimately entwined. The paper argues that development practitioners should not lose sight of how gender affects non-heterosexual people, transgender people and people who do not identify as either male or female.

'Addressing gender in impact evaluation: What should be considered?' by Gillian Fletcher, is a Methods Lab publication from the Overseas Development Institute. The Methods Lab is an action-learning collaboration between ODI, BetterEvaluation (BE) and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

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