By Fabiola Amariles (REDWIM/RELAC); Rachel Sittoni & Florence Etta (AGDEN)
The 8th International Conference of the African Evaluation Association (AfrEA) held in Munyonyo Uganda from 27th to 31st March 2017 demonstrated once more that true development cannot be achieved in any society if gender equity and equality remain at the periphery of development action.
The conference focus on the Evaluation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provided a perfect entry point for discussions on the vital place and role of gendered evaluation practice for inclusive and sustainable development. Having a dedicated Gender Equality and Equity Focused strand at the conference was an indication that the global evaluation community is increasingly recognizing the need to find and analyze evidence about gender imbalances as they may impair development especially in the implementation of SDGs.
The presence of more than 600 evaluation practitioners and decision-makers from across the world and many sectors of society in the conference was an excellent environment for group and individual researchers and practitioners of Gender Transformative Evaluation to share their thoughts on and strategize on ways to increase their contributions to international development in a systematic, committed and coordinated way. There was a vibrant and growing gender and evaluation community present in the different sessions of the Conference to deepen on approaches, tools and cases to advance the field and face current development challenges.
Among the many workshops, panels and individual presentations made, we would like to highlight the two events that most reflected the presence of the Gender and Evaluation community:
The Africa Gender and Development Evaluators Network (AGDEN), UN Women, EvalGender+, UNICEF, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), and the Institute for Reproductive Health, Georgetown University (IRH) hosted one of the 20 conference strands, on Gender Equality and Equity Focused Evaluations. AGDEN acted as the official representative of EvalGender+ and UN Women coordinated the strand.
The strand provided a space for sharing evaluative evidence and experience in support of gender equality and equity in SDGs in Africa. It also showcased how evidence has been used to buttress and enhance evaluation capacity. There were seven sessions across all three days of the conference with contributions from Governments, Voluntary Organizations of Professional Evaluators (VOPEs), researchers, evaluation commissioners, academia and emerging evaluators and practitioners.
At a round table, chaired by Florence Etta on Day 2 of the conference, three excellent presentations made by Silvia Salinas-Mulder, Michele Tarsilla, Ph.D. & Anne Nathalie Manga-BADJI exhorted participants respectively to be:
a) Conscious of and cultivate competencies that will lead to gender responsive transformative evaluations;
b) Careful to manage the risks as they measure equity in the SDG era, especially to ‘mix statistical rigor with equity oriented techniques and approaches’;
c) Intentional and thoughtful in the practice of evaluation which is grounded in empirical theory but contextually relevant.
As if in answer to the charge by two of the presentations, Fabiola Amariles reported on an EvalPartners Peer-to-Peer (P2P) project whose goal is “Developing a Culturally Responsive Curriculum on Gender Transformative Evaluation based on best practices: A South to South Collaboration” by four VOPEs on three continents namely: REDWIM, CoE South Asia, AGDEN and RELAC. Sonal Zavery, from CoE SA and Cecilia Manyame from AGDEN complemented this report with partial results of the P2P project in their respective regions.
The EvalGender+ group managed to meet on the margins of the AfrEA conference bringing together members present at the conference. This brief meeting reinstated the group’s commitment to support countries, organizations and individuals’ efforts to consolidate an effective, inclusive and transparent M&E framework to evaluate SDGs with an equity focused and gender responsive lens.
The network brings together multi-level actors to increase policy uptake and to improve evaluation results making them relevant to the different contexts. Present members at the 8th AfrEA conference emphasized the need for EvalGender+ to systematize its work including documenting and co-operation with other interested partners for the community to effectively position itself as the leading voice in gender responsive evaluation.
As a result of this meeting, an “AfrEA statement on Gender, Equity & Evaluation” was created and presented at the final session of the Conference:
The EvalGender+ network is growing with membership. To increase our network and to further extend our reach in local communities, we are trying to identify members around the world to increase our influence. To join the network, please sign up at http://gendereval.ning.com/ and to become a member of the different task forces please visit http://gendereval.ning.com/profiles/blogs/join-evalgender-task-forces.
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