Feminist evaluation approach is not just about women

I am at the European Evaluation Society conference in Helsinki and I attended the gender and evaluation session to learn more about approaches and practices.

The two presenters (Dr Julia Espinosa and Dr Donna Podems) generated good discussions on evaluating gender and development projects, evaluating projects with a gender component, or using feminist evaluation approach when evaluating a project.

The audience, including myself, was not clear about the differences between gender evaluation and feminist evaluation, and what exactly a gender component of an evaluation means.

From the presentations and discussions, I learned the following:

  • Often we hear the following statement: 'the project beneficiaries include women, so gender issues were considered'. Not necessarily. Gender looks at equality, power structures,  and describes what happens in a particular intervention or project. Just being a beneficiary does not mean the project addresses women's access to education, land ownership, or equal treatment and recognition.
  • Feminist evaluation is an approach that has a strong root in advocacy. It asks the questions why a group (could be women, elderly, marginalized individuals)  is treated differently and what can be done about it. Transformation is the essence of feminist evaluation, which draws from other evaluation approaches. It is a very reflexive process that gives voice to people that would not have the opportunity otherwise.

What all these issues have in common is the need to change organizational culture and policies to seriously address gender issues and marginalized groups. Evaluation practices can play a major role in those changes.

There are two resources from the presenters which you may find useful:

Blog post on feminist evaluation by Donna Podems

Article on gender-sensitive evaluation by Julia Espinosa


Photo Credit: India - Faces - Rural women driving their own change by Mckay Savage

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