Breaking Free: Transforming the Practice of Evaluation: Put Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion into Action — It Pays Off by Khalil Bitar

EvalYouth founding members

Salam. I am Khalil Bitar, an evaluator from Palestine. I close this week’s series of posts by reinforcing the importance of creating and supporting diverse, networked opportunities for evaluators – particularly young and emerging evaluators.

Roughly five years ago, I represented the Palestinian Evaluation Association in the EvalPartners’ Global Evaluation Forum in Nepal. The Forum was held in 2015, celebrating the International Year of Evaluation and launching the Global Evaluation Agenda (2016-2020). At the Forum, young and emerging evaluators (YEEs) from various regions and countries founded EvalYouth —a global network supporting and promoting young and emerging evaluators and youth-led accountability.

We —the 23 YEEs— significantly contributed to the drafting of the EvalAgenda, co-led the organization of the Global Forum, and were part of all its activities and decision-making processes. Genuine youth participation was something the leadership of EvalPartners and the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE) embraced and encouraged. It was the beginning of a truly diverse global network (and movement) of YEEs and an advocate of youth participation in —and through— evaluation and international evaluation advocacy.

One year ago, EvalYouth, the Evaluation Office of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Global Parliamentarians Forum for Evaluation (GPFE), started a global evaluation campaign called the Decade of Evaluation for Action Campaign (#Eval4Action) —to accelerate the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by advocating for stronger national evaluation capacity and evidence-based policies. A few months later, 135 partners —including national and regional evaluation associations, EvalYouth chapters, UN agencies, NGOs, private sector organizations, and others— joined the Campaign.

This astonishing growth of Eval4Action resembles the growth EvalYouth experienced: regional and national chapters in every major region of the world and hundreds of active volunteers and members.

I have been the Vice-chair of the network since its establishment and chaired it during the past two years (we recently transitioned to a new Management Group). I am often asked how a small network can be such a success in just a few years.  It was due to many factors, but I always single out one rationale: diversity —diversity of people, narratives, and perspectives.

EvalYouth, unlike several other global evaluation structures, is not US- or Europe-centred. From the beginning, founding members and leaders planned and worked towards having young and emerging evaluators from all regions lead the network’s Management Group, different task forces, chapters, and activities. In most cases, network materials are produced in multiple languages. Management Group elections are region-based. Gender, region, disability, and other equity- and diversity-based considerations are part of our selection criteria for leadership positions, scholarships, event speakers, facilitators, and all other opportunities the network offers to YEEs and the broader evaluation community.

Hot Tip

  • Translate the materials produced by your project, program, organization, or any intervention(s) on which you work into the native language(s) of the rights holders or volunteers with whom you work. This of course should follow activities that include diverse perspectives and narratives in the development of these materials.

Rad Resources

  • Check out this book chapter, titled Revolution in the Making: Evaluation “Done Well” in the Era of the SDGs with a Youth Participatory Approach, written by some network leaders as part of the IDEAS book: Evaluation for Transformational Change.
  • Learn about what the network believes youth-participatory evaluation is. Check these short but informative animated videos: 1 & 2.
  • Check out the recording of the latest EvalYouth Virtual Conference (November 2020) with the theme of Evaluation For Transformation and Social Change (available in English, Arabic, French, Spanish, and Russian).

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Breaking Free: Transforming the Practice of Evaluation Week. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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