Many countries have a high level of acceptance of gender based violence (GBV) against women and girls, particularly during conflict situations. However, it is also important to tackle GBV targeted at women in post-conflict situations. Sound Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) processes are important to ensure programmes are working; to make improvements; and for greater accountability. Traditionally, M&E has focused more on response outcomes than the impact of prevention activities. We explored this issue at a Gender Based Violence Learning Day in December 2011. This Learning Brief discusses the M&E of GBV prevention initiatives in relatively stable or post-conflict environments.
What is the Monitoring and Evaluation learning cycle?
There has been little investment in quality M&E processes in GBV prevention programmes. As a result, many programmes have limited evidence of their impact. M&E should not be a one-off activity, but must be included at every stage of a programme’s life cycle. A coherent, rigorous M&E process generates learning and supports positive change. Although they take time, money and staff skills, baseline studies have proved to be an excellent investment. Such studies show the nature and extent of local GBV issues and act as an essential reference point for describing and measuring a project’s outcomes and impact. M&E must be included in: programme assessment; strategic planning; design of the framework; implementation across all activities; and evaluation. Standardised definitions of GBV are rarely used. The development of Standard Operating Procedures would make the process easier for everyone, and allow for better data and learnings capture.
How does the Design and Implementation phase work?
The baseline study should crystallize the intervention’s key objectives and strategies; align a discrete number of SMART outcome and impact indicators that explore relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, feasibility and sustainability; and inform the monitoring system. Different methodologies can be used to monitor an intervention. Which is chosen will depend on a number of factors, such as the size and scale of the GBV project; the budget; and whether or not the M&E will be done in-house. If M&E is being outsourced, undertaking a capacity assessment of the consultants can save time and money in the future. A variety of M&E methodologies can be used to gather information. These include questionnaires, individual interviews, focus group discussions, opinion polls, and interviews among others.
How does the Evaluation phase work?
The process is geared to help answer key questions, such as:
- Are we doing what we said we were going to do?
- Are we achieving what we said we would achieve?
- Is the project design sound?
- What elements of the project need to be refined?
- What, if any, are the unintended consequences of the GBV intervention?
- Is the activity causing the observed changes?
Using a mix of monitoring and assessment methods helps to build strong data. It helps establish the extent of change delivered by a programme, and facilitates an understanding of how change occurs. Timing is important in evaluation: GBV trends can take a long time to change, so both the organisation and the donor must be committed to an evaluation that goes beyond the timeframe of the intervention itself. It is important to make the clear distinction between short-term increases in reports of GBV and change in long-term social norms. It is common for reporting of
GBV incidences to increase over time due to increases in confidence in the prevention programme, the programme activists, and the referrals it provides. A rise in reported levels of GBV can often be a sign that prevention activities are working.
What key lessons and recommendations can we apply to GBV initiatives?
- M&E processes are feasible, make a meaningful difference, and can result in enhanced and more responsive programming.
- M&E must be planned from the outset to be active in the programme cycle.
- Measuring social change at impact and process levels is challenging but vital.
- Put protocols in place regarding ethical, safety and confidentiality issues.
- Use a variety of methodologies and tools appropriate to the context, and don’t lose sight of the importance of gathering economic data.
- Successful M&E requires time and money.
M&E is part of a bigger picture and GBV activists should acknowledge and celebrate the significant progress that has been made so far. No step that prevents or reduces instances of GBV is too small.
The people skills of those conducting the M&E process are crucial in such a sensitive area as GBV. Investment in recruiting the right teams will pay benefits in the long run.