All About Gender
By Mahua Mandal, M&E specialist, MEASURE Evaluation
ATLANTA, GA—MEASURE Evaluation started off its strong presence at the 2016 annual conference of the American Evaluation Association with a gender bang.
On Wednesday, my colleagues and I, along with USAID’s Ana Scholl, presented a multi-paper session on “Strengthening gender measures to improve the design of family planning and reproductive health program evaluations in low- and middle-Income countries.”
Brittany Iskarpatyoti began our talk by providing a bird’s eye view of the topic, describing our systematic review that assessed the characteristics of outcome and impact evaluations of gender-integrated family planning programs. She discussed the modest but promising results of the current “state of the science” on evaluations of gender-integrated family planning programs. Recommendations included the increased use of mixed methods in evaluations; integration of gender considerations throughout the study design; and greater development and use of validated, gender-sensitive measures such as the “gender equitable males” scale.
Next, the audience learned about MEASURE Evaluation’s monitoring and evaluating male engagement in family planning programs. Bridgit Adamou, research associate, pointed out that male engagement and its measurement is quite nascent in the field of family planning—a sector that previously was thought of as the sole “women only” space. She went over why it is necessary to reach males as partners, clients, and change agents to achieve the goal that every person has the opportunity to choose if, when, and how many children to have.
Carolina Mejia, research associate with MEASURE Evaluation, then presented in-depth about the challenges in defining and measuring another gender construct—reproductive empowerment. MEASURE Evaluation is developing and validating a way to measure reproductive empowerment, which can eventually be integrated into national surveys and special studies.
Finally, I wrapped up the session by reminding the audience that—although the family planning and reproductive health field has substantially progressed in measurement and evaluation and gender is being increasingly integrated into family planning programs—we must continue to develop valid gender measures and work to ensure gender is integrated into the evaluations of family planning programs.
Learn more about MEASURE Evaluation at Evaluation 2016.