Search on EES

Last year, our blog called “Let’s increase efforts to mainstream gender in evaluations!” presented five recommendations to ensure gender is mainstreamed in evaluations. The main takeaways from last year’s blog are:

  1. Make gender analysis a compulsory element of policy making, programming and evaluations.
  2. Include gender mainstreaming in project management and evaluation guidelines and manuals.
  3. Make gender mainstreaming visible in evaluations!
  4. Deploy the right skills, expertise, and competences for evaluators.
  5. Ensure the utilisation of findings and lessons learned from evaluations and feed them into the development of new policies and interventions to facilitate, and nurture, the culture of learning in institutions.

The question to you now is: From your recent evaluations, have you gained satisfactory information to what extent women, men and other groups have benefitted (or not) from your intervention implemented? Where does your organisation currently stand? Is there something that could be further “twisted, turned and rattled” to strengthen gender mainstreaming in your organisation?

Suppose you find yourself concluding that evaluations provided you with some useful information already, but there is still a potential to strengthen it. In that case, we would like to share some food for thought and some materials that should advance your commitment and application of gender mainstreaming in evaluation in two potential ways.

Many development organisations have developed outstanding guiding materials for mainstreaming gender in evaluations. So rather than reinventing the wheel, we will try to zoom in on some of the great work and reports published in the past years and link them to the two potential ways for further improvements:

First, it could be useful to look at the bigger picture in your organisation, referring to the “gender architecture.” This document provides clear performance indicators to assess where you stand in terms of actual implementation of gender mainstreaming across your interventions, also measured by the existence of human and financial resources dedicated to gender mainstreaming.

Whether assessing or reconstructing Theories of Change to look at gender mainstreaming, we recommend another document: the “Guidance on Evaluating Institutional Gender Mainstreaming” by the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG).

Within this publication, we want to draw your attention to the Theory of Change of the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) developed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which offers a comprehensible GEWE approach.

Another interesting example, amongst many others, is the UNIDO Strategy for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women 2020-2023. UNIDO’s GEWE Theory of Change also clearly outlines the GEWE approach.

Both examples could be useful for developing and strengthening a gender mainstreaming approach leading to a well conceptualised “gender architecture” within your organisations.

Secondly, looking at the evaluation management process and reports, using the “gender-responsive approach” could strengthen your evaluations in relation to gender mainstreaming. Please, find a summary of the gender-responsive approach:

  1. The evaluation analyses gender mainstreaming, even if the subject of the evaluation was not gender-sensitive in its design.
  2. Gender is included in several parts of the Terms of Reference (TOR) (e.g., in the background/context (target groups, beneficiaries), evaluation purpose, scope, objectives, methodology, Gender is stated more than once in the ToR.
  3. Gender is included in all evaluation criteria, if applicable. This is comprehensible from the TOR, inception report and the final evaluation report.
  4. The evaluation questions and sub-evaluation questions consider gender. This is comprehensible from the TOR, inception report and the final evaluation report.
  5. An analysis of the gender assessment/analysis prepared in the intervention design phase is requested in the TOR and considered in the inception report and final evaluation report.
  6. The project design, results framework and the Theory of Change are analysed in relation to gender.
  7. At least one of the evaluation team members has a certain level of gender competence/expertise.
  8. The proposed evaluation methodology in the TOR and in the inception report consider a mixed-method approach. Gender-indicators and required data disaggregated by sex are stated in the evaluation matrix of the inception report.
  9. Available data or data that is collected, analysed, interpreted, and presented is disaggregated by sex. Project documents, strategies, other relevant document are also analysed in relation to gender.
  10. Findings, conclusions, recommendations, and lessons learned consider gender.
  11. All documents, including tender documents, are formulated in a gender-sensitive language.

For more information on gender-responsive evaluation we would refer to to following handbook: UN Women. How to Manage a Gender-Responsive Evaluation. Evaluation Handbook, 2015.

Getting engaged in making evaluations more gender-responsive, you may find yourself in a position where other topics, such as environment, climate change and others, are “competing” with each other. So, what to do? Does it have to be an either-or? How can we ensure that due to the complexity of environmental and climate issues, gender mainstreaming will not be pushed aside?

Does gender mainstreaming need to be further integrated in environmental assessments, for example? Is there an evaluation approach that could combine gender mainstreaming and other cross-cutting issues?

One important element is to refrain from linear thinking and apply a systems thinking approach, acknowledging and engaging the interconnectivity between gender equality, environment, and the principle of “leave no one behind. Considering the interconnectedness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs,) we recommend the report UN Women developed called “Inclusive Systemic Evaluation for Gender Equality, Environments and Marginalised Voices (ISE4GEMs).” You may also find this video on the ISE4GEMs including two case studies to provide great guidance.

This year we would like to encourage all of us to reflect on how well we mainstream gender and use gender-responsive evaluations. Do we dedicate enough human and financial resources? Let’s be honest about the obstacles we identify and advocate for addressing possible gaps.

Most of all, we would like us not to get trapped in the linear way of thinking that we can approach evaluation with gender or environment. It is not a question about “either” gender or environment. We must embed the system’s thinking and the interconnectivity we live in as the basis, and scale up our efforts on including both gender and environment and climate change in our evaluations.

For more information on gender and evaluation please visit GEKIWIKI.


UNEG. Guidance on Evaluating Institutional Gender Mainstreaming, 2018

UNIDO. UNIDO Strategy for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women 2020-2023, 2019

UN Women. Inclusive Systematic Evaluation for Gender Equality, Environments and Marginalised Voices, ISE4GEMs: A new approach for the SDG era, 2018

UN Women. How to Manage a Gender-Responsive Evaluation. Evaluation Handbook, 2015

UN Women. Performance Indicator 11. Gender Architecture


By Karin Kohlweg, EES Board Member, and Petra Novakova, EES TWG 1 Lead