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Systems Thinking: prioritizing gender, marginalized voices and ecologies


Systems Thinking: prioritizing gender, marginalized voices and ecologies

Prioritizing gender, marginalized voices and ecologies.

Members: 118
Latest Activity: Apr 11

Prioritizing gender, marginalized voices and ecologies

Gender and Evaluation online community of Practice (CoP)

Systems Thinking Sub-Group

Prioritizing gender, marginalized voices and ecologies


Welcome to a new sub-group within the Gender and Evaluation Community focused on the emerging practice of using systems thinking to support evaluation practice in development contexts. The goals for this CoP are:

  • Support discussions, ideas, hopes and concerns about how systems thinking can contribute to the field of evaluation.
  • Build an understanding on how to conduct a ‘systemic boundary critique’ as an ongoing reflective process in all phases of an evaluation.
  • Recognize and share demonstrations of use of prioritizing gender equality, marginalized voices and the environment in evaluation practices.
  • Are there other goals this CoP would be interested in adding?

A Brief Introduction to Systems Thinking:

The idea of systems thinking is that linear cause and effect is insufficient to describe complex and changing situations. Systems thinking is characterized by an appreciation of the interrelatedness of parts within a wider system and the emergence of properties that cannot be fully comprehended by analysis of the system’s essential parts.  For example, women, men, adolescent girls and boys all have important roles and contribute to the fabric of any community’s well-being. To strengthen a community, you might want to understand each gender’s social and economic contribution and needs, the cultural norms for those roles and contributions, and the hopes and concerns of each gender and age group. All of these individual elements are important to support a community development effort but additionally how the individual members interact with each other.

Drs. Anne Stephens and Ellen Lewis are currently working on a new UN Women Independent Office of Evaluation to create a new guidance using systems thinking to prioritize gender, marginalized voices and the environment. You might wonder why we have prioritized and linked gender, marginalization and the environment in this guidance. Each of these lenses urges us to consider how the current and historical exclusions of women, nature and voices from the margins (e.g. human or non-human) are interrelated and can be prioritized to drive social change.  The new systems thinking guidance being developed will draw on the vast wealth of current evaluation practices and methodologies as well (e.g. feminist/gender-responsive evaluation practice, participatory evaluation, developmental evaluation) as a way to provide support to current practice.

Please note that Anne and Ellen are only moderators of this CoP, for all of us together, are equally facilitators and learners of knowledge. We welcome you to this group whether you are new or familiar with systems thinking.

How to join the sub-group?

If you are not a member of gender and evaluation community, please sign up on

Then sign in and click on the link Here on top right hand side click on +Join

Please visit our Anne's and Ellen's weekly blog about the development of a gendered systemic evaluation guidance. Comments are welcome there as well. Please join us in this journey.

Discussion Forum

Looking for case studies that have adopted systems thinking and gender-transformative lens together in evaluation

Started by Sheena Kapoor. Last reply by Rituu B Nanda Oct 7, 2022. 3 Replies

Hi everyone, I have been looking around for case studies that have adopted systems thinking and gender-transformative lens together in evaluation. I work with ISST which runs a Gender Transformative…Continue

Theory of Change

Started by Anne Stephens . Last reply by Margerit Roger May 2, 2018. 3 Replies

Hi everyone. We'd welcome your view point and experience of working with a 'Theory of Change'.They have been broadly criticized for being too cause-effect for systemic evaluation. But is it possible…Continue

Out for review!

Started by Anne Stephens . Last reply by John Colvin Apr 22, 2018. 3 Replies

Just to keep our members updated, a draft of Chapters 1 - 5 went out to our Advisory Group of awesome people with expertise in different aspects of systems and/or evaluation practice. We look forward…Continue

What's needed more - Tools, Methodologies or Training?

Started by Anne Stephens . Last reply by Anne Stephens Apr 22, 2018. 2 Replies

This is a question that seems to come up a lot for me. What is it that practitioners really need to be systemic evaluators? Better tools? A way to do a holistic evaluation analysis of impact? Or…Continue

Tags: training, methodology, tools, evaluation, thinking

Comment Wall

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of Systems Thinking: prioritizing gender, marginalized voices and ecologies to add comments!

Comment by Minal Mehta on April 23, 2018 at 18:25
In addition serious synergistic coordinated mind set so that gaps in the data collector's thinking and interpretation is not overlooked. Person who collects data has also read between lines meaning what is not said and that's where maximum data lies which for Gender evaluation is most important.
Comment by Yulia Immajati on July 24, 2017 at 7:23

Hi everyone. I have been looking around for theoretical and, especially, practical frameworks and tools for gender and environment, especially related to sustainable development, green economy, green growth. Would appreciate kind assistance on the matter. Kind regards.

Comment by Mary Nderitu on June 13, 2016 at 14:20

What's needed more-Tools, methodologies or Training?

 In a systemic evaluation, evaluations should consider all these as not independent but interdependent of each other. Thinking systematically and holistically since they all interrelate. Evaluators need better tools which are determined by methodologies one uses among other considerations, the tools will not only be administered by the evaluator alone but by enumerators, research assistants etc where training on use of these tools is needed so that there is harmonized data collection and understanding of what is needed to be collected. 


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