While African countries are aspirational regarding gender equity, there are few equity-focused policy documents to guide programme development or monitoring and evaluation (M&E).

by Parfait Kasongo

Assessing impact through equity-focused evaluation

While African countries are aspirational regarding gender equity, there are few equity-focused policy documents to guide programme development or monitoring and evaluation (M&E). Some policy makers would like to engage in equity-focused evaluation, to begin assessing their impact, and to feed into planning new programmes. However, they are struggling to get funding as this type of evaluation is not included in their National Evaluation Policies, nor is it seen as a priority for governments.

In response, Twende Mbele in 2018 conducted a gender diagnostic of the National Monitoring and Evaluation System (NMES) in Uganda, Kenya, Benin and South Africa. This process involved M&E stakeholders from the respective countries. The diagnostic study sought to:
I. Use a gender diagnostic tool designed with AGDEN to review National M&E System (NMES) including its: a) broad National M&E policy, b) Institutional Arrangements and Capacities, and c) Processes and Procedures;
II. Identify potential barriers and enablers to having a well-functioning gender responsive M&E system at country level;
III. Identify and develop concrete strategies (or recommendations) to strengthen gender responsiveness of each country’s M&E system, as well as common, collaborative tools or projects.

The gender diagnostic as a tool to increase gender responsiveness

Benin: the project was largely successful as it was able to awaken sensitivity to gender in that country. With the results from the diagnostic study and funding from the EU government, the Family Ministry was able to improve their gender policy by allocating resources towards specific gender interventions, in a way they had not been able to do previously.

Uganda: before the gender diagnostic, gender was not included in evaluations. A taskforce for gender-responsive evaluations reviewed the National M&E Policy and made it gender-responsive. Trainings of researchers and M&E officers on gender responsive evaluation is ongoing.

South Africa: the Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) developed a Guidance Note in collaboration with the Department of Women (DOW). This facilitates gender responsiveness of PME (Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation) systems across the government evaluation space evaluation. In other words, the Guidance Note improves the understanding of what it means to mainstream gender in evaluations as it gives systematic (step-by-step) direction from planning to implementation.

In all cases, improving the gender responsiveness of National M&E Policies ensures that: a) gender is institutionalised into evaluation activities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA)s b) the National M&E Policy becomes one of the platforms for discussing learnings regarding what has worked from gender perspective; c) gender responsive evaluation assessment tools and guidelines for all sectors are developed; and d) gender evaluation performance improvement plan is developed and implemented.

As a result…

Twende Mbele hosted a learning event in Ghana with representatives from 12 African countries, where gender was one of the points of discussion. The idea around this discussion was to share lessons learnt, increase understanding and collaboration, and valuing of equity in each country. Outside of the learning event, plans to capacitate researchers and M&E officers to strengthen data collection systems and tools, and also to measure and create criteria for gender responsive indicators were initiated.

In a nutshell

• Gender diagnostic showed that no country had a gender responsive M&E policy, and that there were only a few and sometimes no links between SDGs, equity goals and evaluation.
• Convergence and coherence between gender equality and other development goals, e.g. ‘leaving no one behind’; can assist in reaching gender equality goals. Thus, convergence at national and institutional policy and strategy levels needs to be accompanied by operational clarity within specific interventions.
• Ongoing and relevant gender mainstreaming training is key to closing the gap between policy and practice. Training needs to go beyond ‘awareness raising’ to enable staff to apply gender analysis to their area of work, including in evaluation and monitoring.

About the Twende Mbele

Twende Mbele aims to strengthen monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems and practices in African countries by creating a platform for collaboration and peer learning between selected countries. This is based on the premise that driving improvements in M&E systems will provide governments with critical information to improve the effectiveness of their own service delivery and accountability to their citizens.


The views expressed in published EIDM Stories, as well as any errors or omissions, are the sole responsibility of the author/s and do not represent the views of the Africa Evidence Network, its secretariat, advisory or reference groups, or its funders; nor does it imply endorsement by the afore-mentioned parties.

Parfait Kasongo, communication and learning coordinator at Twende Mbele
~ Parfait Kasongo, communication and learning coordinator at Twende Mbele