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What are the Evaluation Approaches in Monitoring and Evaluation?

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What are the Evaluation Approaches in Monitoring and Evaluation?

In our previous article, we discussed Evaluation Designs in Monitoring & Evaluation. Today we look at Evaluation Approaches. Evaluation approaches are an integrated set of options that are used to do some or all the tasks involved in an evaluation. Evaluation approaches are often developed to deal with specific challenges or questions in evaluation.

Feminist Evaluation

Feminist Evaluation (FE) has received strong reactions from many people, some of whom cannot explain what it entails. However, concepts regarding the approach could make for a useful and credible evaluation. Feminist Evaluation primarily focuses on the inequities in gender that result in social injustice. This evaluation approach has a strong root in advocacy as it encourages researchers/evaluators to see themselves as activists.

What is Feminist Evaluation?

Feminist evaluation is an evaluation approach that is based on feminist research, which is in turn based on feminist theory. The Feminist evaluation approach, as feminine as it may sound, is not just about women and one does not need to be a feminist to use this approach. It simply asks the question of why a group of people comprising the elderly, women, or marginalized people receives different treatment and what can be done about it. Feminist evaluation and gender approaches give researchers evaluation methods that they can apply to particular circumstances.

Feminist Evaluation stresses empowering, participatory, and social justice agendas. While all evaluation approaches are packed with their own, often indirect values, only a few of them affirm their values as boldly as feminist evaluation does. Unlike most gender approaches, the feminist evaluation approach does not uphold an exact approach or provide a framework. Rather, this evaluation approach is often described as a way of thinking about evaluation. The essence of feminist evaluation is transformation, which draws from other evaluation approaches. It is a very intuitive process that gives people a voice; who would otherwise not have a chance to speak out.

Activists protesting for equal justice and their voices to be heard.

Activists protesting for equal justice and their voices to be heard


All these issues advocate the need to alter organizational policies and culture to seriously deal with marginalized groups and gender issues. To enact those changes, evaluation practices are required to play a major role. It is imperative to keep in mind that as far as evaluation practices are concerned, not all evaluation theorists and feminist evaluators agree with this. Even for non-feminist evaluators, feminist evaluation can prove useful. It is also important to note the differences between feminist evaluation and gender approaches, and what exactly is meant by a gender component of an evaluation. It is often that we get the following statement: “gender issues were put into consideration, as the project beneficiaries included women.” But, not necessarily so. Gender looks at power structures, equality, and defines what happens in a particular project or intervention. Just being a beneficiary doesn’t guarantee that the project will address women’s access to education, equal treatment, land ownership, or recognition.

The Basic Tenets of a Feminist Evaluation

Some of the fundamental elements used by evaluation theorists are;

  1. Feminist evaluation primarily focuses on the gender inequities that cause social injustice.
  2. Gender-based inequality or discrimination is structural and systemic.
  3. Evaluation is political activity – This means that the contexts used in operating evaluation are politicized; and the personal perspectives, experiences, and characteristics brought by evaluators to evaluations cause a particular political stance. – This implies that feminist evaluation motivates or brings out activism in an evaluator.
  4. Knowledge is a powerful resource that has an implicit or explicit purpose.
  5. Knowledge should be viewed as a resource for those who create it, hold it, and share it. Therefore, the evaluation process can result in significant positive or negative effects on the people involved in the research/evaluation. Knowledge and values are socially, culturally, and temporally contingent.
  6. There are multiple ways of knowing, and some are more privileged than others.

Feminist Evaluation is specifically appropriate for understanding inequities and motivates evaluators to use their experimental findings to advocate for social change since it;

  • Questions the meaning of conducting research, questions authority, examines gender issues and women’s lives, and promotes social change.
  • Has as a primary focus the gender inequities that result in social injustice.
  • Views participation and knowledge as powerful resources and sees participation as a political activity.
  • Seeks to ensure that women’s experiences and narratives in evaluations get equal value as men’s and does not treat women as an analogous group.

Feminist evaluation strongly overlaps with some of the key features of other research and evaluation approaches. If you appreciate or draw upon these other approaches, then the feminist evaluation approach might add value to your practice. In our next article, we will discuss the other evaluation approaches in Monitoring and Evaluation. Subscribe to our newsletter to ensure you don’t miss out. To get in-depth knowledge that will advance your skills and help you cope with new demands in project management, register for a course in Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability And Learning (MEAL) today and get a 10% off.


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