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Approaches to measuring

How can change be measured at individual and social levels, in both formal and informal spheres? There is an increasing array of monitoring and evaluation frameworks, methodologies and approaches. In terms of methods, the ‘hard figures’ produced by quantitative approaches are crucial to building the case for addressing gender disparities. Gender scales have become a useful tool in this respect; numerical scores aggregating multiple indicators in order to try and capture multifaceted changes.

Meanwhile, qualitative methods enable a more in-depth examination of gender relations and other issues not easily ‘counted’. Thus, the ideal methodology is a combined approach that incorporates both quantitative and qualitative methods.

The inclusion of gender-sensitive participatory techniques is also important to help ensure that the topics of investigation are relevant to, and ‘owned’ by the research subjects. Participatory approaches can greatly enhance the relevance of evaluation design, methods and implementation. They can facilitate the participation of marginalised women as rights holders in the processes of evolving indicators, measuring change, and interpreting and disseminating findings. Such approaches require gender-sensitive programming, providing women with safe spaces and the freedom to express themselves.

In terms of frameworks for measuring change, recent years have seen logical frames, results based management and theory of change models being increasingly favoured by development organisations and donors. Critics of these models argue that they are unable to capture the complex realities of changes in the lives of women and girls, and of positive and negative shifts in gender power relations. Some women’s funds have evolved their own gender sensitive tools such as Change Matrix and Making the Case.

At the programme level, development organisations have produced checklists or scorecards to measure adherence to gender sensitive procedures. For example, the United Nations (UN) Gender Scorecard is a globally standardised rapid assessment of the effectiveness of UN country level gender mainstreaming processes developed by the United Nations Development Group (UNDG). It allows for comparison and learning between countries that have undergone the gender scorecard exercise and is designed to ensure adherence to international norms for gender equality.

Key Resources

Capturing change in women’s realities: A critical overview of current monitoring and evaluation frameworks and approaches
Association for Women's Rights in Development 2010
Are all instruments for measuring social change adequate, effective, and sensitive? This document questions these and other assumptions in the context of women’s rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment work. It is ...
Quick guide to gender-sensitive indicators
Oxfam 2014
This short, 2-page guide is designed to be an introductory primer on gender-sensitive indicators, concisely covering their definition, role, and necessity, as used in Oxfam's own development and charity work. The guide provides an at-...
Steering life’s rocky road: gender action learning for individuals and communities manual for field-testing and piloting
L. Mayoux / Oxfam Novib 2009
Women’s Empowerment Mainstreaming And Networking (WEMAN) is a global programme of Oxfam Novib for gender justice in economic development. They have produced this manual as part of a series on Gender Action Learning Syst...
UNCT performance indicators for gender equality
United Nations Development Group 2008
The United Nations Country Team (UNCT) Performance Indicators for Gender Equality Scorecard establishes an accountability framework for assessing the effectiveness of gender mainstreaming by the UNCTs. The development of the scorecard...
Compendium of gender scales
Communication for Change 2014
The identification of appropriate gender-related measures is important for developing and evaluating interventions that aim to promote positive health outcomes by addressing the gender norms that function as barriers to health. While ...