In 2011, DFID placed empowerment, especially the empowerment of girls and women, at the centre of its development agenda. This was done through the launch of DFID’s Strategic Vision for Girls and Women (SV) and a revised policy framework for work on Empowerment and Accountability (E&A). At the same time, DFID committed to evaluating the effects of its planned investments in these two areas. Since then, DFID had invested significant resources to deliver on its commitments through its own programmes and by influencing those of partner organisations.
The macro evaluations
DFID commissioned macro evaluations of the Strategic Vision for Girls and Women and its policy frame for Empowerment and Accountability. These two macro evaluations sought to generate evidence of what works, for whom and in what contexts in the areas of E&A and the empowerment of girls and women, and for this evidence to inform policy and practice in DFID and other development organisations. The macro evaluations consisted of three components:
- Component A: Documentation of the Results of DFID’s bilateral work in the E&A and SV policy areas in a database, to be made publicly available;
- Component B: Analysis of DFID’s Portfolio in the two policy areas to understand what does and does not work, for whom, why, and in what contexts;
- Component C: Review of the SV implementation Process to understand its effectiveness.
Itad was contracted as service provider for these macro-evaluations.
The portfolio analysis to understand what works (component B) was the main focus of the macro evaluations. To draw out learning, we clustered projects from the two portfolios into project sets with a common intended outcome and used them to test hypotheses. These hypotheses were configured around context-mechanism-outcome variables identified through a grounded theory of the project set under analysis. To generate a robust understanding of what works we combined Qualitative Comparative Analysis with qualitative interpretative analysis. The database (Component A), which included all projects relevant to the two policy areas, was used as the data management system for the portfolio analysis. As a unique database of DFID’s investments in the two policy areas, it was also made publicly available.
The SV policy implementation review (Component C) was a separate but complementary piece of work, which sought to understand how the SV had been implemented by DFID, how implementation varied across the organisation and the reasons for these variations. The methodology involved a survey of DFID staff, key informant interviews with a cross-section of DFID staff and external partner organisations, key informant interviews with selected staff of five DFID Country Offices, a review of a sample of Business Cases and document review. DFID was expected to use findings from the Review to inform the future evolution of the SV.
Findings about what works for E&A and the empowerment of girls and women are available in Annual Technical Reports prepared over the course of the 3-year macro evaluations (2014-2017, final 18 months subject to DFID approval). They were also being made available through a range of tailored communications products and activities, targeting priority audiences including DFID staff, other donor organisations, E&A and SV project implementers, research organisations and think-tanks. The objective of our communications work was to encourage target audiences to apply the findings in their own work, in both policies and programmes.
Itad had mobilised an exceptional team of highly respected and qualified experts for this innovative and challenging assignment. Collectively, their expertise spanned quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods approaches to evaluating complex interventions, synthesis of large quantitative and qualitative datasets, measurement of value for money, theoretical and practical knowledge of E&A.
Check out a range of resources from this evaluation.
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Contact Chris Barnett (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to discuss this project.
Image © Providing Essential Clean Drinking Water Photo Credit: DFID/Vicki Francis (CC BY 2.0)