Welcome to aea365! Please take a moment to review our new community guidelines. Learn More.

FIE TIG Week: Katherine Hay on Using Feminist Evaluation to Increase Equity in the Real World

Hi, I’m Katherine Hay. I’ve spent the last 20 years in India working on development, research, and evaluation.

Lessons Learned: One thing I’ve learned, and say all the time is, “equity is not an intervention.”

In societies where equity is the driving goal, perhaps fairly straightforward evaluations of interventions can increase equity. In such societies evaluations could identify the ‘best’ programs, where ‘best’ is defined as reducing inequities. Armed with that knowledge we would design more of the ‘right programs’ and equity would be achieved.

But these societies do not exist. Most of the world is characterized by increasing inequity and development models that put equity on the back seat.

So how can evaluation increase equity in the real world? Is it reasonable to expect that interventions generated from systems that perpetuate gender and other inequities will lead to equity or that evaluation of interventions will deepen equity?

I practice evaluation because I think it is reasonable, but only if such evaluations are understood as intentional disruptions to inequitable systems. This entails seeing equity as emerging from and integral to movements to change societies rather than from technical tinkering within existing systems. This is why applying a feminist lens to evaluation is so core to the way I practice evaluation.

At worst, evaluation can reinforce inequities; on average it might reflect them, but at best it can challenge them. Feminist evaluation offers a lens that fosters designs, approaches, and tools which bring inequity to the foreground.

Hot Tips: I’m often asked, ‘how do you do feminist evaluation?’ There isn’t a simple checklist. The only way is by applying feminist principles at each stage of an evaluation.

Reach out and get involved. I’ve come to feminist evaluation by working with social activists, researchers and evaluators. We share designs, instruments, processes and challenges. I give time to feminist NGO’s with limited resources, but a lot of desire, to use evaluation to guide their work. Being part of these groups deepens my practice and experience. Find peers to challenge and inspire you.

Rad Resources: A few of us formed a gender and evaluation group that now has 646 members from around the world. Why not join the discussion?

Try to make feminist evaluation relevant to issues on the ground. Following a spate of brutal attacks on women in India, I changed a planned keynote at the last minute to discuss how evaluation can help end violence against women. It was a risk I’m glad I took. You can see the video here.

EvalPartners gives small grants to voluntary evaluation organizations to implement peer-to-peer, teaching, and evaluation advocacy projects. All proposals need to include equity and gender but it can also be the focus.

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 aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.