Evaluating SDGs with an equity focused and gender responsive lens

Looking particularly into the Indian context, here are some of the thoughts, while we undertake the journey towards SDGs:

  • Considering the diversities and complexities of the social & economic vulnerabilities & exclusion in India, achieving SDGs by 2030 will be as challenging as it was for MDGs, both for the Indian Government and the National & International Development partners / actors
  • "Exclusion" is a key factor for the vulnerability and marginalization of a huge cross sections of population: agree that we need not talk "only about inclusion of women" but "inclusion of increasing number and types of excluded communities": LGBT, indigenous, migrants & refugees (from international context), people with disability, people infected / affected by HIV & Leprosy, Elderly, children, Dalits….and many more (though within these groups also, women generally are more vulnerable & thus doubly marginalized): and without ensuring social economic and political inclusion of all of these groups / sections, achieving SDGs will not be possible
  • Evaluation communities continuously need to work on designing more effective methodologies and tools to answer "how evaluations can ensure that the inclusion of all cross-sections are objectively assessed, how the voices of the excluded people are heard during evaluations, and how evaluations can lead to creating a facilitative environment for the same….listening to only a certain sections and capturing / documenting their voice only is no more going to help
  • We all agree that Evaluations (and Evaluators) have a very important role in the journey towards SDGs: and at the same time, there are questions on the effectiveness and use of evaluations:

1. to what extent evaluations are taken seriously by relevant stakeholders? How evaluations & integration of its results can be made mandatory for any development program, be it by the Government, by Corporate, or by NGOs? How evaluations can go beyond a formality / routine exercise and taken seriously by all concerned: as a tool for change, as a process to enhance program relevance & effectiveness, as a way to enhance inclusion of the excluded?

2. To what extent evaluations are (not only) gender-responsive but also responsive to all types of exclusion, marginalization, vulnerabilities & inequalities: do we have adequate, appropriate, effective tools and techniques to make evaluations responsive to inequality and exclusion? During evaluations, are we really able to reach to the "most excluded" population & include their voices?

3. To what extent evaluations are participatory, realistic, context-specific, customized and use-focused? To what extent the findings and recommendations from the evaluations are "actually used" to bring the desired changes? The "Fear Factor" with evaluation is still very high, and the hide & seek game goes on during evaluations: how to make evaluations enabling and facilitative so that it can create ownership among all stakeholders & contribute to positive changes, leading to SDG?

4. How evaluations can influence the larger players in the development sector: particularly the government, whose financial investment will be the maximum, for programs aimed at SDG? Can evaluations influence & guide the policy making at the government level to make government development programs gender-responsive, fully inclusive and based on the principles of equity and equality? And beyond that, how evaluations can influence the decision making process at the international community level?

For finding realistic solutions to the above challenges, we, the evaluators and evaluation communities need to come closer and together, not merely to share thoughts and theoretical perspectives, but to share our individual and institutional resources, in terms of effective tools, techniques, designs and methodologies, to make evaluations responsive and inclusive. By coming together, not only we can enrich each other, build our own capacities further and find out ways & measures for better evaluations, but also advocate for including the voices of the excluded at different forums, and engage with and influence the larger players in the development sector. Be it a small evaluation organization or a large, we have to take the ownership and responsibility to customize our evaluations in such a manner that it always contributes to SDG.

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Comment by Shyam Singh on March 28, 2016 at 19:21

Use of evaluation results should be given important space in the whole debate of evaluating impact of SDGs. We could never know as to what happened with various evaluations that took place to evaluate MDGs and what actions were taken by the state and central governments/Planning Commission as well as development community to address the concerns coming out of those evaluation exercises. Our focus must not be limited to methodologies, which is though important, we should also be able to run follow-ups on the use of the findings of such evaluations.

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