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Say “yes” to evaluation, then communicate findings clearly

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Experts who measure the effectiveness of women’s economic empowerment programs recently gathered at the Center for Global Development (CGD) to take on a number of questions—from how to design monitoring and evaluation frameworks to how to translate their findings into accessible lessons learned.
CGD Conference Panelists
Pictured, from left to right: Tessie San Martin, President and CEO, Plan International USA; Krisila Benson, Senior Director of Program Services, TechnoServe; Henriette Kolb, Head of the Gender Secretariat, International Finance Corporation; Sydney Price, Senior Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility, Kate Spade; and Nao Gimelli, Director of the Women’s Economic Opportunity Initiative at ExxonMobil.

In her keynote remarks, Melanne Verveer, executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security, described how crucial the women’s economic empowerment agenda is for the development community. “I have often described women’s economic empowerment as the portal through which women can realize their rights and make progress on a wide range of development goals,” she said. “Economic empowerment brings benefits to [a women] and to her family, it makes her far more confident, it expands her skills, it often decreases violence against her, and it leads to greater engagement in the life of her community.”

Policies and programs aimed at empowering women economically are increasingly high on the agendas of public and private sector agencies—but few have yet been subject to rigorous evaluation. Monitoring these programs and capturing their results will be vital to designing successful projects that close gender gaps moving forward.

World Bank Group Africa Gender Innovation Lab Lead Markus Goldstein discussed the process of identifying what a rigorous evaluation requires. “We have done what we call ‘white papers,’ looking at what we know about the constraints [to women’s economic empowerment] and identifying where evidence exists. One interesting thing we have found is how different dimensions of empowerment are tied together and how the impacts of programs can affect both economic and social outcomes.”

The United Nations Foundation and Exxon Mobile Foundation recently finalized a Roadmap for Action with contributions from accomplished evaluation researchers around the world: It identifies useful indicators separated into final, intermediate, and direct outcomes for urban entrepreneurs and rural women.

Experts largely agreed that investing in evaluation allows funders to contribute to a knowledge base that can help beneficiaries worldwide. CGD’s Senior Fellow Bill Savedoff noted that impact evaluation evidence is benefiting more than a trillion dollars in program work now under way.

A top priority, repeated throughout the day, is translating evaluation findings into language and visuals that are accessible to clients and development practitioners alike.

IFC Gender Secretariat Head Henriette Kolb cited a need for increased focus on sharing information vertically and horizontally—with funders, colleagues, and beneficiaries. She further highlighted the importance of communicating results clearly saying, “There is no point for us to have 60,000 impact evaluations if we can’t actually crystalize these findings into a language that is understood by our clients.”

To watch the full conference recording, visit:


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