Addressing gender in impact evaluation

“Gender affects everyone, all of the time. Gender affects the way we see each other, the way we interact, the institutions we create, the ways in which those institutions operate, and who benefits or suffers as a result of this.” (Fletcher 2015: 19)

This resource and the following information was contributed to BetterEvaluation by Greet Peersman.

Authors and their affiliation

Gillian Fletcher, Research Fellow with the Developmental Leadership Program, Institute of Human Security and Social Change, LaTrobe University, Melbourne, Australia.

Key features

The guide helps to clarify the meaning of gender as socially constructed norms and expectations around masculinity and femininity  –and as such, is very different from and not to be confused with biological sex difference between men and women.

The guide explains the implications of this crucial distinction for categorizing interventions with an explicit or implicit gender focus and for assessing their impact on gender-related injustice and inequality.

It provides clear examples of:

  • gender as a category (to be avoided) and gender as a process (to be encouraged) in development interventions
  • articulating gender aspects of an intervention and recognizing gendered patterns in the delivery of interventions
  • the need to go beyond women’s involvement and sex-disaggregated data in assessing gender impact

The guide recommends specific steps in assessing gender-related impact including: understanding and classifying how an intervention seeks to engage with gender; defining gender-sensitive evaluation questions to address gender impact; and, methods and tools that are particularly helpful in answering such questions.

    How have you used or intend on using this resource?

    The guide was developed as part of the Methods Lab for Impact Evaluation – an action learning research collaboration between the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), BetterEvaluation (BE) and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

    Why would you recommend it to other people?

    The author makes a clear and compelling argument for how gender issues should be addressed in all development interventions. She provides: a real-life examples that challenge the pervasive thinking and practice in gender-related work; concrete steps for focusing key evaluation questions on gender-related changes that really matter; and, do-able data collection and analysis methods.


    • 1. What to expect from this paper
    • 2. What is gender?
      • 2.1 Judging difference
      • 2.2 Not just about women: gender as a process, not a category
      • 2.3 Assessing impact in gender intervention
    • 3. What is impact evaluation?
    • 4. Assessing gender-related impact: what helps?
      • 4.1 Review how (and if) an intervention seeks to engage with gender
      • 4.2. Classify the approach taken to gender in the intervention
      • 4.3 Clarify the evaluation purpose
    • 5. Defining evaluation questions to address gender impact
      • 5.1 Evaluation questions for interventions that can best be categorised as ‘gender blind’, ‘gender exploitative’ or ‘gender accommodating’
      • 5.2 Evaluation questions for interventions that can best be categorised as ‘gender transformative’
      • 5.3 Select appropriate data collection and analysis methods
    • 6. Applying a gender lens to development interventions and evaluations
      • 6.1 Articulating gendered aspects of an intervention
      • 6.2 Determining gendered patterns in intervention delivery
      • 6.3 Assessing gender needs and going beyond women's ‘involvement’
      • 6.4 Including both positive and negative change
    • 7. Conclusion
    • 8. Additional resources
    • References


    Fletcher, G. (2015). Addressing gender in impact evaluation. A Methods Lab Publication. London: Overseas Development Institute & Melbourne: BetterEvaluation.

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