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Learning about Women’s Empowerment in the Context of Development Projects: Do the Figures Tell Us Enough?

By: Jane Carter, Sarah Byrne, Kai Schrader, Humayun Kabir, Zenebe Bashaw Uraguchi, Bhanu Pandit, Badri Manandhar, Merita Barileva, Norbert Pijls, Pascal Fendrich

In this article, we consider three projects implemented by Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation: a project in Nepal focusing on capacity building (vocational skills training); a project in Bangladesh focusing on income generation; and a project in Kosovo working on agency – enhancing the voice of citizens in local governance. The article examines how donor requirements for demonstrating evidence-based results challenge project management in different ways, how facts and figures are generated, how experience is translated into reports, and how qualitative methods are used for evaluations. This is compared against a stakeholder (participant) perspective of their degree of satisfaction with project performance, obtained through case studies or focus group discussions.

We take the four dimensions of empowerment, notably ‘power-over’, ‘power-to’, ‘power-within’, and ‘power-with’, and consider the degree to which these are captured through qualitative and quantitative monitoring and evaluation systems. With this article, we aim to generate wider reflection and debate among our colleagues in our own organisation and in the wider development community on how, in a context of increasing demand in development circles for results expressed in figures, development practitioners can capture important changes in women’s lives.

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Uploaded on: Nov 06, 2017
Year Published: 2014
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