Evaluation of the Gender Action Plan and Gender Capacity Needs in South Asia
To enhance the implementation of the UNICEF Gender Action Plan (GAP) and reinforce multi-sectoral synergies on gender programming, The Bassiouni Group (TBG) managed a robust evaluation, the first of its kind in the region, to provide consultative feedback and an assessment to the UNICEF Regional Office of South Asia (ROSA) and its eight country offices in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
In June 2014, UNICEF’s GAP (2014-17) was operationalized and set in motion an agenda for advancing gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women which was aligned with the objectives of UNICEF’s Strategic Plan 2014-17. The GAP ultimately aims to strengthen resources, capacities, and systems across the organization and sectors, which also underscores the Strategic Plan’s operational objectives and formed part of the bedrock of the evaluation team’s assessment. The GAP enhances the gender dimension of UNICEF’s programmatic and institutional results for its regions, countries, and divisions, largely through strengthening gender mainstreaming mechanisms and targeting gender priorities.
More specifically, the four targeted gender priorities in the GAP – ending child marriage, advancing girls’ secondary education, promoting gender-responsive adolescent health, and addressing gender-based violence (GBV) in emergencies – and its programmatic framework consolidates and amplifies the gender equitable results and approaches within the parameters of the Strategic Plan. Headline results were tailored for each region within the GAP, with South Asia specifically focusing on saving newborns, educating all girls and boys, and eliminating stunting.
In contributing to effective targeting and gender mainstreaming approaches, the team produced a final Regional Synthesis Report, illustrative gender profiles of each country office’s progress on implementing the GAP, and a Gender Capacity Development Plan for UNICEF staff. A specialized Gender Audit was utilized in forming the research design for the evaluation. In doing so, the team uncovered whether gender was mainstreamed sufficiently into the objectives and targets of the regional and country programmes in order to identify areas for improvement and capture existing good practices.
The project Team Leader traveled to Nepal and India to meet with key representatives from UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA, and key government counterparts. In-depth field visits helped inform the team’s understanding of the internal needs and key strengths and weaknesses of the current gender programming in the country offices and select field offices as well as how well the offices integrated gender within their institutional environment. A total of 69 interviews took place among staff throughout the region, along with a Gender Capacity Assessment Survey which was distributed to 306 staff across the eight country offices and regional headquarters.
The final Regional Synthesis Report outlined the current levels of gender-related integration in sectoral programming at the regional level and assessed the regional headline results and gender targeted priorities under the GAP. In addition, actionable recommendations were included towards building better results on gender mainstreaming approaches. Each gender profile covered lessons learned and opportunities for further development for the country offices to mainstream gender within their programmatic results in their sectoral programming beyond 2017. Gender resources, capacity needs, and assessments across the country offices informed the larger data collection for the team’s assessment and were incorporated into the Gender Capacity Development Plan to be implemented in the short, medium, and long-term.
The Regional Synthesis Report, Country Gender Profiles, and Gender Capacity Development Plan will help lay the foundation for increased gender results within the region and strengthen initiatives focusing on gender programming and mainstreaming gender within the institution for the second phase of the GAP post-2017.