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Embracing equity when engaging men and boys for gender equality | Itad

This article starts by arguing on familiar ground that the journey towards gender equality requires addressing “toxic” and “patriarchal” expressions of masculinity that impinge on women’s empowerment. An equity lens that considers different outcomes for men and boys is necessary for gender equality, and UN Women’s “Men and Women for Gender Equality” (MW4GE) programme has demonstrated that men and boys can be seen as allies accountable to feminist movements. The programme has adopted this approach in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Palestine, seeking to build communities where men and women can exercise their rights and opportunities equally by reducing patriarchal masculinities. The real value of this blog is in demonstrating a method for localising empowerment ideals that may have begun in the OECD but which require adaption to be applicable in different cultural contexts. The UN Women Country Office in Lebanon has demonstrated a unique mediation function across an emerging feminist movement, supported the production of a Feminist Charter of Demands and developed a gender-responsive reform plan. As a result, MW4GE was held “to account” by the national feminist movement, reducing potential for both feminist and patriarchal “backlash” when undertaking its activities. MW4GE has also shown that encouraging men to support their female family members in entering the formal economy can not only improve household income but also contribute materially to economic gains at the national level. Engaging men and boys appropriately in development initiatives while remaining accountable to national feminist and women’s movements is crucial for achieving gender equality.  Crucially, monolithic depictions of aggressive patriarchal structures have failed to prepare progressive movements for the way in which those structures evolve in response to the challenge.  Especially in regions such as the Middle East, where a dearth of research has proved a major impediment, any deafness to male reaction to changing gender norms can invite a disastrous complacency. The “listening” method described here is a step towards pre-empting that problem and consolidating political and social gains in equality.


Evaluators are interpreters. What about ChatGPT? | Eval Forward

This blog is among the first treatments of the AI chatbot phenomenon by a professional evaluator reflecting on the potential impact on M&E. The article explores the relevance of ChatGPT’s uncanny ability to interpret abstract context in a way that is of material use to evaluators at crucial stages. The author provides an interesting  example of the Large Language Model “translating” conversation extracts into something approximate to the technical language that evaluators use to analyse this type of data. The blog mentions the general objections to AI – primarily the bias it inherits from its dataset – but is refreshingly optimistic in its approach to the new opportunities and unafraid of greater automation in M&E, which the advent of ChatGPT and its competitors surely heralds. In a profession that is at once highly technical but also instinctive and reliant on subjective judgement calls,  automation must, as this blog argues, be seen as an opportunity to concentrate on innovation.


3ie Living Evidence Gap Map: New food systems evaluations focus on the big picture

The world’s food system is facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and conflict, leading to an increase in the consideration of national and transnational solutions to improve food security and nutrition. This article looks into the living Evidence Gap Map (EGM) and how it provides up-to-date evidence on food systems and nutrition for researchers and decision-makers. The latest update of the EGM has added 72 new studies, showing a shift towards national and transnational evaluations, with 24% of interventions evaluated at this scale. Four evaluations of China’s national program to shift land rights from villages to individuals have shown positive outcomes, while other national evaluations looked at school feeding programs, inheritance laws, and rice intensification. The majority of new studies focused on the food supply chain, specifically the production system, and there has been a shift towards agricultural, economic, and anthropometric outcomes. The use of quasi-experimental designs has increased, and three studies address gaps in women’s empowerment and climate impact outcome.


Supporting social enterprises to understand their impact | Itad

The growth of social enterprises in recent years has led to increased support from governments, philanthropic organisations, and impact investors. However, monitoring and evaluation in the social enterprise sector is crucial to understand the impact they deliver. This blog describe a  recent evaluation conducted by Itad in partnership with the IKEA Foundation and Yunus Social Business, which uncovered three key opportunities for better social enterprise impact evaluation design. Firstly, evaluators should be flexible in definitions of impact and adopt the language of enterprises. Secondly, evaluators should help shape the evaluation to maximise its relevance for social enterprise managers. Finally, evaluators should reduce the evaluation time burden for social enterprise managers by simplifying and integrating the evaluation tools and processes into ongoing monitoring and evaluation practices. By considering these opportunities, evaluators can better understand the impact of social enterprises and improve their overall sustainability.


India’s nutrition landscape and the path forward | The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab

Nutrition is a theme that this blog series has frequently visited and continues to be a major focus of development evaluation. India has made considerable investments in improving child nutrition through programs such as Poshan Abhiyaan and ICDS, but malnutrition remains a problem for policymakers. Findings from the National Family Health Survey indicate that a third of India’s children under five are stunted and a fifth suffer from wasting. The Covid-19 pandemic may have affected health outcomes, but the stagnant child health outcomes raise questions about the effectiveness of policies and programs. This blog describes J-PAL South Asia’s Cash Transfers for Child Health Initiative, which aimed to improve child health in India by generating policy-relevant research on cash transfers and recent critical reflections on it. The ‘Food for Thought: Tackling Malnutrition in India’ event brought together industry experts and researchers to discuss strategies to improve child nutrition. The discussions revealed that existing cash transfer programs are necessary but not sufficient, and a more holistic, community-level approach towards program design is needed. To increase take-up, awareness of programs must be improved, and the enrolment process must be simplified. To augment state capacity to deliver nutrition services, the burden on workers must be reduced. The results of a study on the functioning of ICDS in Odisha during the Covid-19 lockdown showed a reduction in preschool services.