Hello! My name is Melanie Kawano-Chiu, and I lead evaluation and learning at the Disability Rights Fund/Disability Rights Advocacy Fund (DRF/DRAF), a participatory grantmaker that resources persons with disabilities. With more than a decade of experience in peacebuilding and advocacy evaluation, I’m here to share an approach that grounds monitoring, evaluation, and learning in human rights and principles of inclusion.
As a learning organization, DRF/DRAF asks two questions regarding evaluation. First, how should methods and frameworks change when our target community includes people who have been marginalized through their disability status and often further marginalized through their sexual orientation, gender expressions or characteristics, socio-economic status, or age?
Persons with disabilities are often excluded from evaluation processes. This lack of inclusion can lead to skewed conclusions, since reliable findings are based in large part on bias-free and comprehensive processes.
So, methods need to be selected based on their ability to include marginalized persons. A recent evaluation of DRF/DRAF, led by BLE Solutions, utilized contribution analysis and the equity-inclusive definition of value for money. This evaluation was also guided by an advisory board of persons with disabilities or family members of persons with disabilities.
This leads to our second question: how can authentic participation (meaning decision-making authority and not just consultation) contribute to furthering advocacy achievements by self-advocates? People from marginalized groups must be included in all aspects of programs that impact them – including evaluations. In a second recent DRF/DRAF evaluation, led by Strategic Leadership, the principles and evaluation questions were determined entirely by the target community. Some ownership in political processes like evaluations goes a long way toward countering everyday marginalization.
As a mother gifted with the opportunity to raise a child whose neurodiversity plays out daily through a range of sensory hypersensitivities, I am learning how to embrace and help validate a perspective wholly different from mine at work and at home. May you do the same in your evaluation practices!
- Prepare for the challenging conversation that reminds evaluation commissioners and funders that the main stakeholders of the evaluation are the target communities that will be evaluated and that affords them certain rights accordingly.
- Ensure members of marginalized groups are making evaluation design decisions.
- One in every six people has a disability. Budget for inclusive communications and more forms of evaluation findings dissemination, such as an Easy-to-Read version (pictured right), or resources that reframe the findings of the evaluation for target communities. Language translations are only the start of fostering shared learning and ethical evaluation.
- The UN’s guidance note A Human Rights-Based Approach to Data is a great starting point for rights-based principles.
- To be inspired and equipped for discussions on how validity is called into question without inclusion, check out this seminal inclusive evaluation article and this discussion on the advantages and challenges of inclusive evaluation.
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