By Victoria Sung, VGIF UN Representative
On May 31, the UN-Women Executive Board gathered to discuss key findings from the annual report on the Evaluation Function for 2011 and plans for the evaluation process for 2012-2013. Several points were discussed, most notably the initiatives to strengthen and increase evaluation capacities by partnering with country offices and other UN agencies.
In 2011, evaluation capacities were improved through evaluation trainings open to UN-Women and its partners. Nine training sessions, including online webinars, were conducted during 2011. 244 staff and partners thus received training. A comprehensive evaluation manual which includes information on coaching activities for field offices provided at these trainings is publicly available on the UN-Women Evaluation Resource Center website. These Joint Programmes between UN-Women and country offices and other UN agencies are the first of this kind within the UN system. However, there are still weaknesses at the program level.
Currently, UN-Women uses these evaluations to foster Joint Evaluations with other UN agencies, generate a platform for all publicly accessible evaluations, and contribute to and partner with the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG). The high numbers of evaluations were perceived as unrealistic and are currently being addressed by field offices. Moreover, the Executive Board expressed its concern that only 15 of the 38 evalutations planned in 2011 were completed.
For evaluation capacities for 2012-2013, the current work plan is to advance capacity, credibility, and use of these to better evidence-based policies that can be implemented across countries and UN agencies. The central evaluation office will continue reporting directly to the Executive Director, and external bodies will evaluate the work of UN-Women. More specifically, UN-Women will use joint evaluations to promote gender equality in other UN agencies.
Next year, UN-Women aims to conduct more thematic evaluations to generate evidence and in turn use this to create evidence-based policies. The issue of gender based violence in particular has been difficult to measure and points to the need for more gender disaggregated data. UN-Women will also take on the responsibility to oversee how peacekeeping missions have mainstreamed gender in response to Resolution 1325. To conduct these thematic evaluations, UN-Women will use both quantitative and qualitative data for more useful results.
In addition, the Board provided suggestions to UN-Women based on emerging lessons from the 2011 evaluations, including to intensify interagency trainings at the regional level for Asia Pacific and Latin America, to support regional networks of evaluation associations through partnerships with civil society and academia, and to leverage partnerships more strategically.
The key conclusions of decentralized evaluations are that broader changes are more difficult to track, but overall relevance and effectiveness is adequate. The report points to the need for improvement in efficiency and sustainability, including sustainable exit strategies for field programs, as well as the need for development of a longer-term strategy.
In closing, Executive Director Michelle Bachelet pointed out that evaluation is a key element to ensure that results are pertinent to strategic planning. She emphasized the need to strengthen the culture of evaluation within the UN system, and the use of this knowledge for evidence-based results.