Gender and M&E
Effective projects incorporate relevant gender issues and considerations in their design and in all M&E activities. Projects often tailor activities and interventions to meet women‘s specific needs and, similarly, M&E systems should be designed to draw women‘s perspectives, to consider gender issues in the local context, and to determine the ways in which interventions impact men and women differently. Gathering information from women on project impact often requires adapting tools and methods of data collection to make sure women‘s perspectives are heard.
Standards for gender and M&E:
1. M&E systems include a comparison of data from women and from men.
2. M&E staff collects data from women in culturally appropriate ways.
Gender is a crosscutting issue that you should consider at all stages of project design and implementation, including M&E activities.
1. M&E systems include a comparison of data from women and men
It is not sufficient to measure and understand project progress and impact at the community level given that projects often progress in different ways for men and women and have different ultimate outcomes. In one community, men may report that a new well in the community is beneficial because it supports livestock and allows for more irrigation, whereas women may report benefits related to reduced time for water collection and improvements in child health. Women and men also may report different types of coping strategies during times of household food shortages. Similarly, project progress may differ for men and women, even within the same activities.
To compare data from women and men, begin by asking the same questions (qualitative and quantitative) and compare their answers. Also, include separate questions about project activities specifically for women or men if relevant. Refer to your analysis plan to determine the type of gender analysis needed. Often analysis plans include instructions for comparisons between male and female perspectives on project outcomes, looking specifically at impact on women.
Based on women’s daily activities and responsibilities, women typically provide different types of information than men. For example, women may be more likely to know how much and what types of food their children consume, and men might be
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more likely to know about local land agreements. Design specific questions for women that will draw upon their knowledge related to the project.
2. M&E staff collects data from women in culturally appropriate ways
When collecting data, be sensitive to the cultural norms of men and women in the same location. In some areas, women join men for community meetings but in other villages women are not able to attend any meetings, even within their own village. Assess the level and type of gender constraints in your target communities. In most contexts, it is preferable to hold separate focus groups for women and for men. Women-only focus groups allow women to voice their opinions and may be more culturally appropriate in many contexts. Female staff should facilitate and take notes for women-only focus groups.
Be sure that female staff is on data collection teams whenever possible. If you do not have female staff, be creative. Is there female partner staff that could work with CRS staff? Are there local female teachers, health workers or students that could assist you with data collection with women at the village level?
Talk to elders and community leaders so they understand why you are speaking directly and separately to women. If elders and community leaders are comfortable with the situation, you are less likely to have a male acting as a monitor or reporting to the men what the women said during the session.
Be aware if there is a man outside the door listening—this can be just as constraining for women as having a male in the room.
Some topics may be particularly controversial or emotional in your target communities. These topics may be of particular interest to you, but avoid asking direct questions about them. Questions that evoke overly emotional responses will not only yield unreliable data, they also may jeopardize the future of the data collection exercise. In extreme situations, bringing up controversial topics can quickly sour relations between your organization and communities and, if they are related to gender, place women at risk of harm.