Gender, Evaluation, Ratings and Raters

Sometimes, while evaluation progress towards gender equality and women's empowerment (GEWE), I am asked to give a rating on a scale of 1 to 5 or 1 to 6 on criteria used by the commissioning organisation.  Normally, sub-criterias are listed for women's access to and ownership of resources, reduction in violence against women, increase in decision making of women etc. Sounds simple?

On the surface yes, but there are three challenges

Challenge of Interpretation: Each of  these sub criteria could mean different things. For example the sub criteria increase in women's decision making could mean decision making inside the house or at village level or at group level or at local government level or project level? Vis a vis husband/partner or mother in law?  Of which women? Vis a vis upper caste man or Dalit man? etc

Challenge of subjectivity:   Every evaluator, however exposed to gender issues,  comes with a different history and lens,  and may interpret the same situation differently and give different rating when compared to another one. Dilemma then comes whose perspective counts. To further complicate, due to fund constraint, there may be no gender expert in the team!

Challenge of Context:  In difficult contexts where there is a right wing  armed conflict, the rating may be  2 on 6 in women's ownership of assets, while in another - a more conductive environment- the rating 3. Do we conclude that the programme has fared better in the latter? Or look at trends. It is well possible that the in the first case rating has moved from 1 to 2, while in the latter it has remained constant

So, ratings on GEWE are complex.  It is important to have a guide to meet challenge of interpretation,   make potential gender/other evaluators take online institutional specific courses on gender and evaluation to bring them on the same page, and interpret changes in rating- not just rating to assess progress.           

However, nothing is foolproof. 

Do share your experience

Ranjani K Murthy (r.krishnamurthy@ialumni.ids.ac.uk)    

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