I remember an interview, probably not too long ago, when someone asked what my professional goals were.
“To end gender-based violence,” I said, without hesitation.
Thankfully, I’m often involved in work that actively makes headway on that goal, and every once in awhile a concrete piece comes out of it.
Last Fall, I spent a week in Bangkok, Thailand with UNICEF and UNFPA staff from all over South Asia, as well as invited guests from academia, other multilateral instituions, and INGOs working on child marriage. It’s always fascinating for me to join these conversations, an academic inside a practitioner’s reality. For me, the most striking thing to come out of this meeting was the appetite for evaluation. Practitioners all over this space want to know if what they’re doing is effective, is efficient. Subsequently what is striking is the lack of organizational incentives, technical expertise, and resources to support better and more evaluation. One enduring thought I have from working with various UN agencies over the years is that there is so much potential for learning through fostering greater cooperation with academics and those with more time and resources to invest in evaluation.
I think the best parts of this report are the group picture (see if you can find me!) and the background paper, which begins on page 46 as an annex. The background paper is what I presented at the expert group meeting and it made for some lively discussion. I hope we can continue these conversations about how to better and more creatively use data, analysis, and yes, even econometrics, to understand how programming works, how to tweak it, how best to allocate scarce funding, and to ensure that programs benefiting women and girls around the world are contextual, effective, and rigorous.