Dear "Gender and Evaluation" Colleagues, 

I decided to write this blog (and sharing with you an interesting resource) after having a quick and engaging conversation with some evaluation colleagues in the US yesterday. The discussion took place after I posted the following message on my LinkedIn account nearly a week ago:

"I was particularly intrigued by a message that I saw on @Twitter earlier today. Followers reading the message were encouraged to retweet it if they considered themselves #feminist and proud. Although I am sure that many found the idea cute, I could not resist and had to comment on it. In my opinion,  in order to be a #feminist, claiming that you are one (e.g. on Facebook or Twitter) is a bit too simplistic and does not do justice to the meaning of the word. #Feminism is both a mindset and a continued political engagement to ensure that #empowerment, #social justice, #participation & #equity not be labels or values but concrete and realistic objectives to contribute to and attain on a daily basis. #Actions_Not_Labels @FeministEval @IDEASEval @BetterEval @UNWomen @UNFPA @evalgender".

Here is the rest of the story:

After reading my LinkedIn post, some colleagues shared an interesting comment with me. They liked the post but they also added that, despite my remarks being spot-on, my message would either not get retweeted or receive as many "likes" as some of my other posts since I am a man and "feminism" is a sort of territory which every man should be very careful to venture into.

Perhaps I am a bit naive in my way of looking at things but I was a bit surprised to hear that. After all, I conduct gender and #evaluation training  as well as #gender-transformative evaluations around the world and I always try to be mindful of the "societally gifted privileges" that I have as a white caucasian man. In particular, I always try to make my "ignorance" acceptable to others (what I mean by ignorance here is the lack of a direct experience of the pain and injustice that other human beings - some of whom are expected to benefit from the projects that I evaluate- need to deal with on a daily basis because of gender norms prevailing in the contexts where the work and/or live). Otherwise said, I witness and report those injustices in my evaluation reports but I do not have to cope with it directly in my everyday life. That notwithstanding, I always try to be tactful and respectful in the way I address gender and feminist issues in my work.

Therefore, in light of all my good intentions, dedication to work and my political engagement, I never thought that having a man "speak up" on such issues as gender and feminism would be even remotely interpreted as a "stretch" or an "inconvenient" act by some. 

So, let me go back to why I wrote this blog:

As I believe that learning is part of our daily life and I am part of this community to learn from all of you, I would be very interested in learning more about what other colleagues within our evaluation community think about this topic. For example, who could legitimately participate in the discourse on feminism (including in evaluation) and who could advocate for it? Would being a man or a woman entail different roles and responsibilities, beyond the understandable need for everyone to situate themselves vis-a-vis the historical and current #power asymmetries that characterize(d) the context where they come from or where they happen to live and/or work? If so, what would these roles and responsibilities be?

Interesting resource for you: 

I would also like to share with all of you an interesting blog that a colleague working on masculinity and gender issues (Michael Flood - @MichaelGLFlood) recently shared on Twitter. The blog is a list of 35 frequently asked question on how men (yes, men!) could further what the author (Pamela Clarks) refers to as the "feminist Revolution".

To view the blog (you will be ridirected to Pamela Clarks' blog), click here 

If you find the blog of any utility or interest, please share it with your colleagues, both within and outside of the evaluation circle. 

In conclusion:

Thank you very much for having taken the time to have read my whole message!  I look forward to hearing back from you on my earlier questions (on men's involvement in the discourse on feminist issues) as well as on the other issues discussed in the blog. In particular, which one of the 35 answers you find the most relevant to our evaluation work?

All the best, 

Michele  (Twitter: MiEval_TuEval) 

P.S. The sunrise picture above is symbolic: My hope is that this conversation could bring some more light in the course of my (as well as other colleagues') professional and personal journey towards more just and equitable societies!

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Comment by Paramita Banerjee on April 24, 2018 at 3:18

Thank you for this post! As a woman who's made feminism an everyday practice to the best of my ability for many years now, I'm happy, indeed, to notice that you're not just committed to the issue of gender justice - but feel rattled enough about the questionable 'biologism' that still seems to determine people's ideas about/ response to feminism.

There's hardly any need to further emphasise the need to have boys and men as champions of feminism. Feminism is, as you've so rightly pointed out, a way of looking at things that facilitate the understanding of power imbalances and their impact in different spheres. Gender is a rather powerful lens for that understanding!

Two things that I've found useful in changing adult men's bilogic understanding of gender justice and feminism I'd like to share. You might find them useful:

  1. It is mothers who very often decide whether her child will play with a ball or a doll, depending on the biological gender assigned to the child at birth and in marking the ball for a boy and the doll for a girl, they become reinforcers of patriarchy and gender disparities. So, it is certainly untrue that all women are naturally feminists. If that be so, why can't men be feminists, since biology doesn't determine one's degree of subscription to patriarchy? Simplistic, yes - but I've found it fairly useful in getting people to think beyond the questionable position of equating feminism and gender issues as 'women's things'.
  2. The stereotypical attributes usually ascribed to women and men (sentimental/ emotional : logical, dependent : independent, submissive : dominating) remain the same if we change women and men to children and adults, or even to poor countries and rich countries. So, it;s not about women and men at all - but a case of ascribing certain attributes to one set considered weaker than the other. Again, simple - but this one I've found extremely effective with urban, educated, apparently liberal men who argue that men have nothing to do with feminism.

I do hope this post has some meaning for you.



Comment by Minal Mehta on April 23, 2018 at 23:31
Some corrections in percentage attribution of communicating . hope it is understood .
Comment by Minal Mehta on April 23, 2018 at 23:29
All have knowledge that communication comprised of 6 % verbal 58% body language and 38 % tone of voice but I have rarely read about its use in evaluation. I know as counseling expert but as an evaluator wish to read about it's use in evaluation. please share if anyone has references.
Comment by Minal Mehta on April 23, 2018 at 18:32
I think engaging men as stakeholder in gender based discussion is non negotiable. In gender transformative evaluation or writing recommendaton for future programs that they can be gender sensitive or transformative also active participation is needed.
Comment by Cheryl J. Dalziel on April 23, 2018 at 18:32


Thank you so much for bravely posting your experience on this topic. If we are to encourage progress and change in society and improvement in social justice everyone's opinion and actions must be valued. Who are we to discredit anyone's passion for change. My belief is that when someone lashes out to discredit another it is them who are suffer from a disillusion or unhealthy perspective. 

As a 53 year old woman who has considered herself a feminist since the day she was born, I have encountered more than my share of inequality based on my gender. Yet I have also encountered more times than I can truly recollect support, encouragement and advancement from truly empowered men.

I have been blessed to have had a number of amazing male mentors who have contributed to my very successful career. Without their support and mentorship I never would have been given the amazing work opportunities that I held in my early career in a field primarily dominated by men. I will be forever grateful to them that they stood on a leading edge and saw potential in me that even I myself saw at the time. 

So as John so clearly pointed to in his comment being a man or a woman does entail different roles and responsibilities. I applaud you and everyone else who stands for equality among people regardless of their gender, race or ability. Stand tall in the knowledge that you are assisting to break down barriers even as others lash out at you and try to place you in a box.

Please be proud to continue to bring your perspective to social justice issues and thank you for having the courage to engage in this conversation. 

Comment by John Colvin on April 23, 2018 at 16:30

Thanks for posting Michele.

I consider that it is both legitimate and important for men to participate in the discourse on feminism (including in evaluation) and as a caucasian man in my 60s I am happy to advocate for this. Equally, I believe that being a man or a woman entail different roles and responsibilities - as the experiences of being both privileged, colonised and wounded by masculinities are different for men and women.

Beyond this, every encounter is different and there is always struggle as well as love. I believe that as men we need to cultivate insights into women's experiences, and feminisms, as well as into our own histories under capitalism and patriarchy, if we are to discover dances and movements of mutuality and alliance with others, and bring about transformations towards a more just and ecologically sustainable world for ourselves and our children.

best wishes - John

Comment by Michele Tarsilla on April 17, 2018 at 9:11

Dear Colleagues,

I started receiving a few comments on the LinkedIn version of this blog.

Therefore, I will make sure to share with you the outcomes of this discussion as conducted on other social media (let's say, by the end of the month).



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