How to plan a gender-sensitive policy evaluation

Activity 4.1

How to plan a gender-sensitive policy evaluation


Even if you are not undertaking an evaluation yourself, it is important to understand the purpose and process of evaluations within the policy cycle. Planning gender-sensitive evaluations requires extra consideration to ensure methodology, data collection and analysis focus on supporting gender insights.

  • What is the role of evaluation in policy?
  • What are the steps in planning and completing evaluation?
  • How can I ensure an evaluation is gender-sensitive?
  • How can I integrate a gender perspective into key evaluation questions?

An evaluation uses evidence to make a judgement about the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, and/or impact of a policy to its key stakeholders. A gender-sensitive evaluation is either wholly or partly incorporating gender perspectives in its definition of success. Planning and commissioning the right evaluation, at the right time, in the right way during the policy cycle will deliver evidence-based insights and accountability.

What is the role of evaluation in policy?

Policy evaluation is important to gain evidence-based insights into different aspects of the policy cycle. An evaluation can be undertaken at various points of policy cycle, depending on purpose. For example,

  • Policy designa design evaluation to develop policy outcomes, indicators and baseline targets, and test monitoring systems that will deliver insights. Useful to set up robust monitoring systems and accountability.
  • Policy implementationa process evaluation to understand if implementation is efficient, effective and reaching the rights groups at the right time, in the right way. Useful for iterative changes.
  • Policy reviewan impact or outcomes evaluation to understand longer term effectiveness, sustainability and of policy. Useful for reporting to stakeholders policy benefits and future recommendations.

What are the steps in planning and completing an evaluation?

Planning and implementing an evaluation includes five basic stages that should be developed in conjunction with stakeholders.

1 2 3 4 5
Planning for an evaluation Designing the evaluation Conducting the evaluation Reporting on findings Disseminating and follow up
  • Define evaluation principles and terms of reference
  • Gain thorough understanding of policy and context
  • Meet with key stakeholders, users and governance to hear their perspective of "success"
  • Review or develop, theory of change
  • Review or develop the theory of value
  • Develop evaluation plan with approach, scope and key questions
  • Determine resource and timing
  • Design rubric to identify "what good looks like"
  • Identify data sources
  • Develop and test data collection methods
  • Apply for ethics and test methods
  • Gather qualitative and quantitative data (disaggregated)
  • Prepare data
  • Analyse data and synthesize  findings
  • Assess findings against rubric or baseline measures
  • Assess need for more information
  • Shape report and recommendations
  • Brief client and other key stakeholders
  • Allow for review
  • Share findings with clients and key stakeholders
  • Share feedback with those who participated in surveys or interviews
  • Follow up formal recommendations
  • Engage with quality improvement initiatives if required

The timing, resourcing and purpose of the evaluation will determine the choice of evaluation methodology and methods.

How can I ensure an evaluation is gender-sensitive?

A gender-sensitive evaluation follows the same principles as any evaluation however a gender perspective should be actively integrated through evaluation planning, key evaluation questions, methodology and methods, and reporting. By including gender experts and other stakeholders across all five stages of the evaluation different perspectives are considered and incorporated.

How can I integrate a gender perspective into key evaluation questions?

All evaluations have key evaluation questions. Developing these accurately is important. Criteria frameworks have been developed to help guide development of these questions. As an example guide, the OECD has defined six evaluation criteria. These criteria can help you determine the merit or worth of a policy – not all criteria need be used for every evaluation.

Key evaluation questions are important as they help shape the approach to undertaking the evaluation and methods to collect data. These should be developed with key stakeholders to ensure they are relevant, incisive and purposeful.

An example of the criteria and gender-sensitive evaluation question relating to it is given below.

Criteria Definition Example of using criteria to develop an evaluation question with a gender perspective
Relevance Is the policy doing the right thing? To what extent does the policy design reflect the needs and priorities of different gender groups?
Coherence How well does the policy complement other policies and interventions? To what extent does the policy support national legislation to improve gender equality?
Effectiveness How well has the policy achieved its objectives? Did the policy outcomes contribute to gender equality? How?
Efficiency How well are the resources being used? Were resources allocated in a way that considered gender equality? Is so, how?
Impact What difference is the policy making? Were impacts differentiated by gender, and other identities such as ethnicity, age, location.
Sustainability Are benefits likely to continue? Has impact on gender equality persisted?
Source: adapted from OECD Applying evaluation thoughtfully

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