Art Challenges Equity Evaluation

Kostas Hatzis 2010*
July 15, 2014

The European Evaluation Society (EES) has selected an inspiring topic for the upcoming EES 2014 Conference, “Evaluation for an Equitable Society,” because as evaluators we need to think about and discuss the role evaluation can play in equity, gender equality and social justice. So, I have been thinking about how I build equity in my own practice, the challenges I face, and the questions this raises for my own practice.

My reflection of issues of equity and social justice brought to mind an old favorite Greek song called “We, the humble people”. It is sung by Kostas Hatzis, and written by lyricist Sotia Tsotou, who has written several really powerful songs around issues of social justice. Hatzis was born in 1936 to a musical Gypsy family. His Gypsy origin, and the way he was stigmatized, made him sensitive to social justice issues. He said in an interview, “I belonged to a minority and I felt that from the first time I went to school.” Teachers and pupils called him names, which he came to see as motivated by ignorance. This made him want to raise awareness by confronting us with issues of human rights through his art.

For example, in his song “We, the humble people,” Hatzis raises a point that is important for evaluators; Hatzis sings that no one knows these people, because they are “…like the unwritten snow.” So, as we try to include equity considerations in our evaluation, how will we find those people we have traditionally ignored and now seek to include? How will we know what they think and need, and how will we seek their feedback on what they think and need? And, if we fail to find them, how will we succeed in bringing an equity focus to evaluation?

The EES 2014 Conference in Dublin will be an excellent opportunity for discussing the challenges we face in promoting equity in our evaluation practice. These discussions will set the stage for EvalYear 2015, the International Year of Evaluation, and the focus of EvalPartners on equity and gender equality in evaluation. Thank you, EES colleagues, for selecting such an inspirational topic.

Here is a link to Hatzis’ song, and my own translation of the lyrics below.

*(Original photo by Konssi // CC BY-SA 3.0)

We, the humble people

Do not despise us, do not ignore us!

History, write a short note about us too!

Write about us, the humble people, and the anonymous of creation.

We are a rung in the ladder for the mighty; we are the viewers in parades.

If it were not for us, how would we distinguish the others?

If there were no small and humble, how could there be big and powerful?

Do not despise us, do not ignore us!

History, write a short note about us too!

   

Deny it if you can, deny it if you can!

We were created from the same mud.

No one cares about us; we are like the unwritten snow;

No one knows about us, but five relatives, our mother and the neighbors.

If it were not for us, how would we distinguish the others?

If there were no small and humble, how could there be big and powerful?

Do not despise us, do not ignore us!

History, write a short note about us too!

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As co-founder of EnCompass, Tessie Tzavaras Catsambas has led the development of responsible...

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