Review of evaluation approaches and methods for interventions related to violence against women and girls (VAWG)

Review of evaluation approaches and methods for interventions related to violence against women and girls (VAWG)

Commissioned by DFID, this review of approaches and methods used to evaluate violence against women and girls (VAWG) interventions assesses their strengths, weaknesses, and appropriateness. Conducted with a focus on understanding what makes an evaluation effective – having an influence on programme implementation, policy, and wider learning ‒ the review analysed 74 evaluation reports before a web-based survey was conducted to assess four types of evaluation effects: action, persuasion, learning, and empowerment. Following this, a sub-set of 39 reports were examined using qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) to identify paths that led to effective evaluation; they are presented here together with statistical analysis to assess gaps and trends. Process tracing was then applied to five successful evaluations in order to provide a more nuanced understanding of the interplay of conditions. Finally, thirteen evaluation summaries are presented to help illustrate the range of methods used in VAWG-related evaluations.

Six conditions were identified as contributing to evaluation effectiveness: favourable context; approach; compelling evidence; sensitivity to the VAWG context; participatory design; and good communication. Not all are required for effective evaluation; instead, they combine into eight distinct paths identified in the QCA. Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed evaluations were all capable of generating useful evaluations, provided one of these paths were followed. The majority (54%) of successful evaluations comprised of three conditions: a strongly qualitative design, strong participation, and evaluators who were highly sensitive to the VAWG context. Other pathway composites are decribed, providing a range of choices toward effective evaluation, against which practitioners can make judgments regarding evaluation design.

The study closes with a list of recommendations for evaluation practice in the field of VAWG. Methodological openness and rigour are important, requiring approaches and data to be disclosed and transparent. Commissioners should be open to a range of approaches and grant evaluators the freedom to tailor an evaluation to its specific purpose. Evaluation works best within a favourable context; the right time, sufficient resources, and a strong mandate can make up for gaps elsewhere. Participation should be strengthened, with evaluations designed in consultation with donors and intervention practitioners. Evaluation teams must be familiar with gender research, and must observe ethical guidelines to prevent violations of the rights of those potentially affected. Finally, it is noted that the dissemination of evaluation reports is crucial for increasing the global knowledge of VAWG; thus, reports should be published and widely distributed.

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