Why Should Evaluators Care about Gender-based Violence?

January 29, 2014

It is easy to abhor gender-based violence. Who would not be against rape, torture, mutilation, sexual slavery, forced impregnation and murder [1] of women and men on the basis of their gender? Apparently, many people. That is, many people are not against gender violence. According to the World Health Organization [2], in 2013, 35% of women have experienced violence in their lifetime. Thirty percent (30%) of women have experienced violence in an intimate relationship; and 38% of all murders of women are by an intimate partner. Support for violence against women is reflected in the following proverbs [3]:

"Virtuous is a girl who suffers and dies without a sound."

"Beat your wife once a day. Even if you don't know why, she does."

Although condemned by the United Nations and made illegal by President Obama’s Executive Order [4], violence against women is still practiced.

Chances are, if you work in evaluation of social programs, you will encounter gender violence in the contexts where you work, whether you recognize it or not. Gender violence will be there in the fabric of society, in the lives of girls, women, boys, gays and others who are part of your evaluation. And if, as an evaluator, you fail to recognize it and deal with it, it will compromise the quality of your evaluation, and limit the relevance and accuracy of your findings. You might, inadvertently, even make it worse for victims who might be perceived as cooperating with you and providing input into the evaluation.

So what are we to do? That depends on our values, comfort level, and competence in evaluating and dealing with gender violence. We need to be clear that we believe in standing against gender violence within the boundaries of our role as evaluators. Let us also recognize our level of discomfort, and reach out to people who can help us identify and navigate this critical social problem. And, every one of us should invest in increasing our level of competence for identifying and dealing with gender violence in our evaluations. The graphic presented here [5] shows a systems framework for a coordinated response to gender-based violence; it is a framework developed in the context of HIV/AIDS work, which illustrates the complex and insidious nature of gender-based violence. There is no question that we, evaluators, need help to navigate it.


[1] As defined by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

[2] 2013 Global and regional estimates of violence against women: Prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence, World Health Organization.

[3] White, A., Catsambas, T., Monnet, M. “Language, culture, and health: the gender divide; using proverbs to tackle gender inequities in health” in the International Journal for Health Administration, Sage Publications (November 2002)

[4] U.S. Executive Order: Preventing and Responding to Violence Against Women and Girls Globally

 

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