Participatory Evaluation involving Family Members in Highly Patriarchal Societies

Hello all! 

I am reaching out here to get some advice for a program I am putting together for a course within my graduate school. The proposed project is a livelihoods and economic empowerment program for young women in rural Uganda focusing on agricultural skills training, market access and networking, and financial management/business development training. This training is designed to decrease the gendered skills gap in Ugandan agriculture and all participants are encouraged to use these skills within their personal farms 

In the initiation of the program, I am planning to incorporate the families of the young women who participate to lessen push-back from the local community due to the strict gender roles observed in Uganda.  In planning the monitoring and evaluation of this program, I was considering having the families of the young women participate in data collection on their personal farms. Does anyone have experience with participatory evaluators where those collecting data may not be in full support of the ideals of your program? Any advice or potential risks to be aware of? 

Thank you!

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 Dear Sarah

 for such situation I would suggests you use the beneficiary assessment  approach. you can access more information on this site

Dear Sarah, I am writing to congratulate with you for the program you are planning to set up in Uganda and to thank you for involving the GenderEval+ community giving members the opportunity to participate.

Designing, developing, and implementing participatory evaluations in highly patriarchal societies is certainly a challenge because equal participation is not exactly what women are used to. Most of them might not be aware of such opportunity and/or know what having a voice really means. Therefore I suggest briefing the community you are targeting on concepts of participation, evaluation, and inclusion. In my experience in Kenya (where I have designed and developed a simple M&E model, collected data and information, and then prepared the evaluation report), I have noticed that using communication to gain participants’ trust, galvanize the community, and facilitate knowledge and information sharing has played a fundamental role in conducting a participatory evaluation. Perhaps you are interested in a blog I have written on the AEA website: ‘Participatory Communication and Evaluation Walk Hand in Hand’ (

Once the background and reason of the program have been well described and you have the feel that everyone is on the same page, then it is time to target the groups for your participatory evaluation (plus one control group who has not been informed of such activity so that you can compare data and information later). Yes, I fully support your idea of including young women and family members in the data and information collection process but I also advise you to include some young women (without their families) in the preparation of the surveys, interviews, and/or focus groups. In my experience, when people are within a group tend to look for others’ acceptance so their answers might not reflect reality or what they think of some activities. So you could choose a sample of participants to interview face to face (I have done it in Korogocho and Kariobangi, the lowest income areas of Nairobi, Kenya) and then give some questionnaires to compile as family exercise. That way you would avoid the risk of having a group with only one perspective just because nobody wants to be an outsider.

Also, you may want to consider including Time Use Surveys (TUSs) in your analysis. TUSs are irregular national surveys conducted to collect information about how people use their time. At present, it can be in the form of a word document or online questionnaire to be filled by the sample of participants selected. And it can be utilized as (1) basis for understanding, measuring and monitoring the society over which policies can be formulated, assessed, and modified; (2) information on paid and unpaid activities with implications for poverty, gender equality, and human development; and (3) data complementing national income data. If you are interested, then you may want to take a look at the investigation on WOMEN’S ALLOCATION OF TIME IN INDIA, INDONESIA, AND CHINA I have conducted (

Last but not least, if your goal is also proposing a different type of society, then you might be interested in the MODEL OF CHANGE: ELEMENTS OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY FOR EVALUATORS TO MODIFY PEOPLE’S BEHAVIOR ( I have written it to offer tips to persuade people to follow.

Concluding, I hope that my tips can serve you well in designing, developing, and implementing your program with empowering young women as ultimate goal.

Have a great day and happy Thanksgiving!

Laura Gagliardone

Dear Sarah,

I have been involved in baselines and other evaluation exercises mostly relating to gender violence in traditional rural communities in South Africa.  It has always helped to have a group of elders and traditional leaders to serve as a sort of reference group and discuss the project process with them.  They often have often contributed positively on how best to approach sensitive topics and have generally helped to facilitate the process.

More recently I have been reading about the work of the Grandmother Project   -  - and it reminded of my own experiences of working with malnutrition and realising the critical importance of involving grandmothers and other elders in addressing malnutrition and issues relating to changing diets.  This might also  be interesting reading if you have not come across this project already.  Good luck!

Dear Sarah,

I want to congratulate that you want to engage the families as it can address the context. Excellent!

We at ISST recently engaged families of domestic workers when we were facilitating self assessment by domestic workers. This was supported by International Labour Organisation. To address the issue of gender dynamics we used Constellation's community life competence process and SALT

Am happy to talk in case it helps.




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