Are activist organisations the new evaluation agencies?

Dear Gender and Evaluation members,

I am glad to share with you the abstract below, to engage the discussion with you about evaluations made by activist organisations, and eventually feminist organisations. The full article is so far only available in French. If you want to have a look, please contact me. Looking forward to read your reactions! 

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When and to what extent can activist organisation reports be considered as evaluations?

Have you ever asked Greenpeace or Amnesty International whether they consider their reports to be policy evaluations? We did, and the answer was mostly negative.

Nevertheless, we've observed that activist reports appear to increasingly use an evidence-based process of assessing public interventions’ effectiveness, utility and relevance, using their own criteria. In our view, identifying such reports raises several questions: are activist authors interested in public policy evaluation standards,or would they rather maintain their independence from these? Additionally, to what extent can evidence-based approaches be used in lobbying and advocacy purposes?

Hence, this paper examines whether these activist reports, often dismissed as ideologically-motivated position papers, can actually be considered as credible public policy evaluations. More generally, when and to what extent do activist organisations evaluate public policies? To answer these questions, we decided to assess four reports by activist organisations using evaluation standards, in order to identify evaluation processes which lie outside of public demand and have an explicit activist goal.

The standards were materialised through an analytical grid composed of 13 items, organised around the four following components: 1) the publication should have the explicit intention of examining the results of a public action, 2) its methodology and sources should be clearly stated in order to guarantee the quality of the analysis. 3) the given intervention is judged according to evaluation criteria, and 4) the activist dimension of the publication is explicitly stated.

Overall, 7 activist-specific ways to judge public policies using an evidence-based process were identified - and Evaluators might find inspiration from them.

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