E-discussion: Evaluating SDGs with an equity-focused & gender responsive lens (no one left behind)

The purpose of the consultations (18th Jan-18th Feb 2016)

Following the approval of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the UN General Assembly and by the international development community in 2015, EvalPartners (including EvalGender+) and United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG)’s members have begun to form working groups to strengthen monitoring and evaluation systems to assess these different goals.  The purpose of the present consultations, organized by EvalGender+, UNEG and the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) of UN Women, is to provide guidance to strengthen M&E systems to assess all SDGs with an equity-focused and gender-responsive lens, in addition to Goal 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) and Goal 10 (Reduce inequality within and among countries).  The above mentioned agencies and network, in collaboration with other strategic stakeholders, are planning to prepare a guidance note that will assist both actors directly involved in social equity and gender equality, as well as all actors involved with the evaluation of the SDGs, in ensuring that social equity and gender equality are adequately addressed in all of the SDG evaluations. It is intended to produce a first version of this Guidance note by June 2016.  The SDG strategy is to work through, and to help strengthen existing M&E systems at the national and local levels and consequently the focus of the present consultations is on indicators and approaches that can be implemented through existing M&E structures – many of which may have limited experience and resources to address social equity and gender equality issues.

In addition to their importance as stand-alone sustainable development goals, both of these are cross-cutting themes that must be integrated into the assessment of all of the other goals.  For example, the achievement of Goal 2 (end hunger), Goal 3 (ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages), Goal 7 (ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable modern energy) and Goal 13 (take urgent action to combat climate change) – to mention only four, all have important gender dimensions that affect the achievement of these goals.  Similarly, there are social equity dimensions to all goals. To read more on SDGs visit the link "Transforming our world:  The 2030 agenda for sustainable development.https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld

The consultations identify four important themes that must be addressed in the M&E systems to assess SDGs with an equity-focused and gender-equality lens, in addition to goals 5 and 10:

  • Theme 1:  The relevance of “new metrics” (measurement tools and indicators) for the evaluation of SDGs from an equity-focused and gender-responsive perspective.
  • Theme 2:  Evaluation and complexity – Dealing with the increasing complexity of development and interconnectedness of SDGs to ensure “no one is left behind”
  • Theme 3:  Towards equity-focused and gender-responsive national evaluation systems – Multi-stakeholder partnerships to strengthen national evaluation capacities
  • Theme 4:  Demand for and use of evidence from equity-focused and gender responsive evaluation to inform equitable development

Each of these themes has different implications in different countries, regions, sectors and according to the type of organization.  Consequently we invite you to share your experiences and perspectives to assist the EvalGender+, UNEG, UN Women IEO teams in ensuring that the Guidance Note will reflect the diversity of experiences and perspectives in different countries, regions and types of organization.

 

Theme 1:  The relevance of “new metrics” (measurement tools and indicators) for the evaluation of SDGs from an equity-focused and gender-responsive perspective.

In recent years a number of “new metrics” have evolved which can potentially widen the range of indicators and measures available for the monitoring and evaluation of development results from equity and gender responsive perspectives. These include:

  • Data that can now be collected through mobile phones, tablets, internet, GPS mapping and other new information technologies
  • Big Data collected from satellites and drones, remote sensors, analysis of twitter and social media, mobile phone records, digital electronic transfers including purchase of mobile-phone air time and ATM withdrawals and crowdsourcing
  • Participatory consultations (e.g. Most Significant Change, Outcome Harvesting, PRA)
  • Concept mapping
  • Mixed methods evaluations and
  • Feminist research methods (e.g. oral history, feminist ethnography and content analysis, power relations, social justice and empowerment approaches)

Participants are invited to share their thoughts and experiences on the following questions (as well as others they propose)as they relate to equity-focused and gender responsive evaluation.

  • In your experience what are some of the limitations of current data collection methods and the kinds of indicators they produce?
  • What are the most difficult issues to measure with respect to social equity? and with respect to gender equality?
  • What are the new challenges for assessing sustainable social equity and gender equality?
  • What have proved some of the most effective methods?
  • In addition to those mentioned above, what other new metrics are you familiar with?
  • Which of the new metrics show the greatest promise?

Theme 2: Evaluation and complexity – Dealing with the increasing complexity of development and interconnectedness of SDGs to ensure “no one is left behind”

As SDGs are interconnected, national policies and programme to implement them will be complex. As programs grow in size and scope, the number of partners and stakeholders and in terms of the kinds of social and behavioral changes they seek to produce, they become more complex – both in terms of how they are designed and implemented, but also in terms of how they must be evaluated.  Complexity is defined in terms of: (a) the nature of the programme, (b) the number of partners and stakeholders and the patterns of interaction among them (including the level of consensus or disagreement among them on the goals of the programs), (c) the number of external (contextual) factors that influence how the programme is implemented and its outcomes and (d) the complexity of the causal chains through which outcomes are to be achieved.  A number of additional factors are particularly important for the evaluation of social equity and gender equality, including: (i) social and cultural constraints and pressures, (ii) the power relationships and social definition of gender relations and social equity, (iii) multiple influences on processes of behavioral change, (iv) the role of social media, and (v) the long, non-linear causal chains through which changes are produced.

Participants are invited to share their thoughts and experiences on the following questions (as well as others they propose) as they relate to equity-focused and gender responsive evaluation.

  • Which dimensions of complexity are most important in your work on social equity and gender equality?
  • How does complexity affect our understanding of the effectiveness of different interventions on the production of changes in social equity and gender equality?
  • What methods and approaches have you found most effective for understanding the outcomes of complex programs on social equity and gender equality?
  • The processes of change are long, involving many actors and contextual factors.  Also the processes are not linear as advances on one front often involve set-backs on others.  What kinds of evaluation strategies have you found most effective in these complex scenarios?
  • What are the special challenges for understanding the impacts of different interventions on the most vulnerable populations?  What evaluation methods are most effective for studying these very sensitive processes of change?

Theme 3: Towards equity-focused and gender-responsive national evaluation systems – Multi-stakeholder partnerships to strengthen national evaluation capacities

 

The SDGs pose challenges for national evaluation systems as the SDGs require the involvement of a broader range of stakeholders, a broadening of the range of indicators to be measured and the methodological and organizational problems required to assess sustainability which requires collecting data over a much longer period of time.  Many programmes are intended to produce benefits that continue over five or even ten years and the evaluation must (ideally) continue over all of this period.  So instead of conventional evaluations that often only cover the 3-5 years of project implementation, the SDG evaluations may be required to continue for twice as long.  The application of a social equity and gender equality lens will often present additional challenges for national evaluation systems, including the fact that the evaluation of gender outcomes and impacts is often the weakest part of many national evaluation systemsand the methodologies for evaluating social equity are also not well developed in many countries (or in the evaluation literature in general).  Given resource constraints of many evaluation agencies, it will often not be possible to consider specialized evaluations that focus exclusively on equity and gender, and it will be necessary to adapt standard M&E methodologies to address these issues.  It will be important to consider the extent to which some of the multi-shareholder partnerships can bring in agencies with expertise in these areas and with additional resources that may permit the selective application of gender and equity focused data collection and analysis methodologies

 

Participants are invited to share their thoughts and experiences on the following questions (as well as others they propose) as they relate to equity focused and gender-responsive evaluation.

  • In your experience what will be the main challenges that national evaluation systems will face when evaluating social equity and gender equality?
  • In the countries with which you are familiar, how well established are the methodologies for evaluating these two areas.
  • Which kinds of organization have the most experience in the evaluation of these two areas?  Are these organizations already part of the national evaluation systems?  If not, what will be required to ensure their active involvement?
  • What kinds of evaluation capacity development will be required to strengthen the capacity of the national evaluation systems to address these issues?
  • What are the example of successful partnership in your country or in your area of work to strengthen M&E systems in general, and equity-focused and gender-responsive systems in particular?
  • What are the opportunities and challenges for such partnerships?

Theme 4:  Demand for and use of evidence from equity-focused and gender responsive evaluation to inform equitable development

 

Experience from all regions and sectors shows that one of the biggest challenges facing evaluation systems is the very low rate of utilization of evaluations.  In many cases evaluation findings do not reach many of the key organizations and groups (including community and women’s organizations), in other cases they are not presented in a form which is easily accessible to some groups, particularly the most vulnerable.  Even when evaluations are reviewed, action is often not taken on many of the recommendations.  These challenges are likely to be even more serious for social equity and gender equality as these themes are less familiar to many organizations and the mechanisms to review and action are often less developed.

 

Participants are invited to share their thoughts and experiences on the following questions (as well as others they propose) as they relate to equity focused and gender-responsive evaluation.

  • In your experience what are the factors affecting the demand for and use of evaluation?
  • Are there additional factors affecting the demand and utilization of social equity and gender equality evaluations?
  • How could the demand and utilization of these evaluations be increased?
  • What types of evaluation presentations would you propose to make evaluation more accessible to stakeholders?

 

 

 

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I am very happy to be part of this wonderful group discussion. Would someone throw a light on how these indicators and approaches developed/sharpened for each of the SDGs be integrated into Government's M & E mechanisms. In my opinion, unless, Governments own it up and integrate into every level thereof, it will remain in the air. Of course, i am optimistic and appreciate the highly needed discussion and affirmative action.

Thank you in advance!

Best Wishes,

Venkat

Indeed Government s ownership is key. One of the best approach is Gender Mainstreaming at all levels and both qualitative and quantitative indicators to be set through consultative processes for equity for every SDG. Stakeholders consultation will ensure participation of Civil Society, NGOs and Government. We know there are less or no expertise at Government's level on Gender Mainstreaming, Gender sensitive M&E tools development or even understanding on equity focused. NGO s have it .  To make every SDG equity focused there needs to develop new metrics/ tools / checklists/ equity Markers but the key is coordination of all stakeholders and buy in of the Governments for process monitoring. 

in some countries Evaluation practitioners have advocated for the development of a National Monitoring and Evaluation Policy which is a government instrument to ensure that policies, programmes and projects are monitored and evaluated  and that they are focused towards the attainment of development results.

I am also happy to be joining this crucial discussion on SDG indicators, tools and integration of all stakeholders in the process. 

 A very interesting topic , the question that remains is how  at country level the national strategies and visions will  be in line with the SDGs. It is a challenge especially with most developing countries  that do not have a department responsible  for M&E. Also there is need to sensitize the various players at local level ,this also include the gender context of that country.   

Dear Colleagues
It is my pleasure to belong to this group. In terms of the limitations of current data collection methods and the kinds of indicators they produce, the major limitation with regard to institutional capacities-particularly the Civil society organizations/Non-governmental organization, a systemic lack of M&E professionals and adequate budget for M&E significantly hamper sound data collection.
Different donor requirements for different programs amongst CSOs/NGOs is also reported to confuse these beneficiaries to develop sound methodology for data collection.
Most CSOs/NGOs do not have sound M&E plans, thus lacking sound methods for data collection

I am also happy to join this discussion.All themes are important and implicate sub themes than can be very relevant in different country contexts.As said above,M&E structuring in the government and the CSOs in many countries are either missing or very meagre.When there is one,it is heavy focused on financial monitoring by government agencies.We need to move forward with sustained advocacy for independent M&E systems at the country level and focusing on the reliable methids of measurement of social inclusion and human development with a further focus also on the girl child.In order to do this,we need to continue to work for national production of more diversified and disaggregated data and improved and relevant indicators.

I believe reliable methods of measurement that include stakeholder participation that encourages ownership will be more effective. In my line of work I have found it difficult to properly evaluate the the effectiveness of gender mainstreaming as the response and participation of women has been very minimum. There is need to find methods that encourages women to contribute and participate meaningfully

I confirm my  participation in the   group discussion. Few issues needed  more attention 

1. Revisiting  SDG Indicators -Some in  Green  as well as Gray  too. 

   More  focus on Goal 2 , Goal 5 and Goal 10, 

2. Methodologies : Data Collections, Measuring and Interpretation.  

3. Workplan:  how we get there . 

I have briefly respond  to the Theme 1  and worked on  draft work plan . Please see attached two documents for your review. 

Looking forward to hear you comments and suggestion. 

Regards

isha 

Attachments:

Good job Isha.

We need to work hard on making data colletiong more desagregated.

Dear colleagues,

I am really happy to be part of this great discussion. Indeed formulating 'INDICATORS for evaluation are the most difficult in many areas, and perhaps more so on gender equality ... I believe this discussion would help in promoting more understanding on goals in sustainable development, as well as contextualize to different circumstances. Two key issues that may need emphasis are 1) promoting more participation of stakeholders, especially through effective Public Private Partnership, and 2) trying to make the indicators as simple as possible ... I look forward to participating in the discussion. Regards, Getaneh (getanehg2002@yahoo.com)

I believe that one of the most serious questions to ask is how and where to introduce evaluation in the systems of governance that are not transparent, open or strongly dependent on direct communication with constituencies/general public in their policy formation process. Policy formation is a complex process which can largely benefit from the introduction of the evaluation processes. However policy formation does not happen in the same way everywhere. For example, we talk about capacity building for national governments. Great idea. However how do we ensure that this capacity is a) enduring b) relevant for the system of decision-making that influences policy formation? Because if we do not take steps to ensure it, 1) capacity does not become a part of institutional memory (in other words, 10 government officials, who received this training leave and the capacity leaves with them; 2) capacity to evaluate the progress towards gender equality stays within the system, however does not influence policy formation. Why? Because the source of policy formation, the center of decision-making is not where we assumed it to be, based on the ideal of bottom up, inclusive, transparent governance system. 

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