We are Francesca D’Emidio, Liisa Kytola, and Sarah Henon from ActionAid, and Eva Otero from Leitmotiv consultants. ActionAid is a global federation working to achieve social justice and poverty eradication by transforming unequal gendered power relations. We’d like to share an evaluation methodology tested in Cambodia, Rwanda, and Guatemala to measure shifts in power in favour of women.
Our aim was to empower women from very disadvantaged backgrounds to collect and analyse data to improve their situation. This is in line with our understanding of feminist evaluation, where women are active agents of change. Our evaluation sought to understand any changes in gendered power relations, how these changes happened, and our contribution.
We then trained women leaders of collectives to use participatory tools and facilitate discussions. Leaders then identified factors that describe people with power. After this, leaders facilitated discussions with collective members, drawing community maps to identify important spaces (home, market etc.). Using seeds women scored spaces where they currently had most power and then repeated the exercise for the past to understand what had changed. Women then told stories in groups to explore how they gained power in these spaces. We mapped the changes experienced by women against the dimensions of power and analysed findings with leaders. Timelines were used to understand our contribution. Finally, we triangulated the information by interviewing other stakeholders.
- Our methodology makes power analysis simple, concrete, and rooted in contextual realities, enabling women who are illiterate to lead and participate in the process. Women quickly grasped the concepts and confidently facilitated conversations, finding the process empowering.
- Women need to define power in their own context. We asked women to name the most powerful people in their communities to identify “factors of power.” This allowed us to understand how participants viewed power rather than imposing our own frameworks on them.
- Designing a fully participatory evaluation process can be challenging. A shortcoming was that women did not design the evaluation questions with us. Women found analysis tiring after a long data collection process. We need to better balance women’s active participation with their other responsibilities and logistical challenges.
- Use role play to bring abstract concepts to life. We asked groups to organise plays to represent different dimensions of power.
- Let local people own the space. The more freedom they have, the more they are likely to get to the root of the issue by talking to each other, rather than to ActionAid. We overcame the challenge of documentation by hiring local women as note takers.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Feminist Issues in Evaluation (FIE) TIG Week with our colleagues in the FIE Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our FIE TIG members. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.