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Category Archives: EIPM
Gender Centre for Research and Training running a workshop in training to policymakers on mainstreaming gender in development policies and practices.
– Blog post by Amira Osman, Co-founder of the Gender Centre for Research and Training, Sudan
Gendered evidence is important for policy making because it gives policy makers and development planners a clear picture on the gender needs of the population they are targeting. In recent years, this need has received greater attention. However, there are still numerous barriers and challenges to mainstreaming gender in programmes and policies.
To discuss this, a breakout session was held at the VakaYiko symposium in Accra on 5 October 2016. Policy makers, researchers and civil society organisations from countries in Africa, Latin America and Europe joined the discussion. Also present, was a Regional Director from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in Ghana, who shared a practical perspective on challenges and opportunities to mainstreaming gender evidence within government policy. Here are five key things to come out of the discussion:
1. Gender is a socially constructed issue
What we understand by ‘gender’ varies from culture to culture and changes over time. Furthermore, the concept of gender is sometimes seen as a western concept. Therefore the concept needs to be deconstructed and understood in relation to ethnicity, culture, geography, age, disability, religion and social status, making it more relevant to the experiences of people in the local context This is a key to developing a policy that is informed by relevant gender data and gender analysis.
2. Gender is often not seen as a priority
Policy makers at the top of hierarchical decision-making structures – often men – don’t see collecting and using gendered evidence as a priority. As such, adding a gender perspective to their activities challenges the status quo, including their power.
3. Policy making bodies often lack necessary resources, time and skills
Scarce or stretched resources is a major barrier. Even within departments with a specific gender remit – such as Ghana’s Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection – inadequate financial resources to collect gender disaggregated data was raised as a major challenge. The lack of communication between data producers (researchers) and users (policy makers) can further hinder this.
4. Quantitative and qualitative data collection methods are needed
There is often a reliance on quantitative data methods, which tend to favour statistics without paying attention to women’s and men’s different roles in society. For example, quantitative data may tell us about the number of women in a parliament but adding qualitative data will inform us about women’s and men’s experiences/perspectives within such an important decision making body.
Qualitative methods such as focus groups and in-depth interviews allow participants, in particular women, to engage in fruitful discussions and to raise issues of concern such as their experiences with domestic violence, which women may not feel comfortable mentioning in a survey conducted by a male interviewer. In this sense, the sex of the interviewers is relevant particularly in contexts where sex segregation is common, i.e. female interviewers are needed for female interviewees and male interviewers are needed for male interviewees.
5. Capacity building on gender disaggregated data and data analysis is a practical step
Capacity building for different stakeholders, such as community leaders, grassroots organisations, civil servants, researchers and policy makers, is needed. Capacity building for stakeholders on gender disaggregated data and gender analysis is a practical step to equip them with relevant skills to mainstream gender in policies and programmes.
To tackle the above key points/challenges, the Gender Centre for Research and Training in Sudan (GCRT), using the VakaYiko grant managed to provide capacity building sessions to mid and high level policy makers from two ministries in Sudan on gender and gender analysis to inform policy. The sessions acted as platforms for dialogue which helped policy makers to raise questions, analyse information and develop plans and policies that address the needs of women, men, boys and girls and to facilitate gender mainstreaming in all programmes.
To tackle the above challenges participants suggested the following:
• Reaching women, girls, boys and men in remote areas and incorporating their perspectives and needs in any gender and capacity building projects targeting them.
• Promote dialogues between policy makers and researchers to enable better collection of sex-disaggregated and qualitative data.
• Develop and sustain a gender perspective and gender analysis in all decision making processes.
• Allocate resources for all of the above suggested activities.
Read an interview with Thywill Eyra Kpe, Regional Director for the Department of Gender (Central Region) in Ghana, on how gender evidence is used to inform regional policy in Ghana.
Evidence Spotlight: Towards better use of evidence in Parliaments – The experience of the Parliament of Uganda?
John Mugabi Bagonza, Director of the Department of Research Services at Parliament of Uganda, shares the Department’s model with VakaYiko colleagues from Ghana and Zimbabwe at the 2016 VakaYiko Symposium in Accra
– Guest Post by Sunday Olishe Etrima, Research Officer-Parliament of Uganda
INASP’s Evidence-Informed Policy Making team is working with the Parliament of Uganda to improve the use of evidence in decision-making.
Uganda’s constitution places a huge mandate on the Parliament of Uganda to make decisions that serve the interests of the nation and its people. But this is only possible if parliamentary decisions are supported with valid, relevant and well-researched evidence. In other words, decisions must be informed by technical advice built on a strong foundation of evidence and analysis.
In the Parliament of Uganda, it is the duty of the Department of Research Services (DRS) to ensure that parliamentary decisions are backed with evidence. The DRS does this in a number of ways:
Building capacity to providing to Members and Committees of Parliament
The DRS has recently repositioned itself with the aim of providing and promoting more evidence and quality analysis to Members, Committees and Staff of Parliament. As part of the repositioning, the DRS has evolved from a small unit of only twelve staff within the Department of Library, Research and ICT, to being a fully-fledged Department with 39 staff members. This has enhanced the capacity of the DRS to provide evidence to facilitate parliamentary work and addressed some glaring evidence supply deficiencies.
Generating its own multidisciplinary evidence
The DRS is an evidence generation unit in its own right, housing economists, statisticians, accountants, lawyers, social workers, engineers, political scientists, agriculturalists, environmentalists and mineral experts. The DRS’ key research products include fact sheets, regular research reports, bill analysis reports, committee issue briefs, policy analysis reports, committee field visits, and meeting notes. In addition, new products such as constituency profiles, one page summaries and talking points for Members of Parliament (MPs) have been developed and are highly in demand by MPs.
Although proactive research on topical issues is very much encouraged, the DRS generally produces evidence in response to demand from different individuals or organs of parliament. Clients include individual MPs, Committees and Offices of the Parliament. Research requests are placed through the Director of Research Services and the work is assigned to the relevant researcher(s). It should be noted that research outputs are on the increase: in the first quarter of the Financial Year 2016/17, the DRS produced 129 more reports than planned, exceeding its target by 64%. This clearly demonstrates increased demand for research products.
Stimulating demand for evidence
Where there is less demand for evidence, the DRS also focuses on stimulating it, chiefly among Members and Committees of Parliament. This has been done through various strategies, perhaps the most prominent and recent of which was a ‘Research Week’ in August 2016 held to raise awareness of DRS research services among new members of Parliament in the tenth Parliament. Another approach is making presentations to MPs and Committees on the importance of using evidence in their legislative, oversight and representative roles.
Ensuring the quality of in-house research
It is DRS’s strategy to continuously improve the quality of the evidence it generates. For instance, over the past two years, researchers have received training in bill analysis, policy analysis, report writing, committee briefing, science communications, data visualization, and other areas as part of a deliberate effort to build staff capacity in the department. This training was made possible with financial resources from the Parliamentary Commission and development partners such as INASP. As a result, the DRS’ capacity to generate more and better-quality evidence has improved significantly. The knock-on effect is that the department has earned the trust of the Parliamentary Commission, and now executes assignments in-house that were previously done by externally hired consultants. For instance, the DRS currently undertakes training needs assessment for the Institute of Parliament Studies.
Building strong systems to support evidence generation and use
Lastly, the quest of the DRS to ensure better use of evidence in Parliamentary work is rooted in building strong systems to support increased supply and demand for evidence in the legislative, representative and oversight functions of the Parliament of Uganda. To this end, the DRS has developed research guidelines and manuals to support its mandate. It is also developing a website and workflow system to share its products internally and externally, and finalizing collaborative arrangements with key research institutions and think tanks to create a pathway to allow the enormous amount of evidence produced by such institutions to be used in the policy arena.
That’s not to say there aren’t still some challenges: increasing number of MPs and Committees of Parliament that increases demand for work, limited funds to finance field studies among others. However despite these issues, the DRS is making good progress, and we hope to see increasing engagement with quality, relevant evidence by Parliament going forward.
In April 2015, Thywill Eyra Kpe participated in the first VakaYiko evidence-informed policy making course to be run by Ghana’s Civil Service Training Centre. At that time, she was posted in the Volta Region of the country but she has since moved to the Central Region as the Regional Director for the Department of Gender, under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. In this interview, she discusses gender, evidence and regional policy in Ghana. Continue reading
INASP is known for strengthening the research and knowledge systems. For almost 25 years, we have been working with different part of this system so it can function as a whole: librarians, publishers, researchers, academics, IT services and their institutions in many countries. More recently, since 2009, we have been incorporating a further key component of the research and knowledge system: the policymakers and other users who need access to knowledge to make better decisions. This group is an important part of INASP’s new five-year strategy, as Clara Richards explains. Continue reading
After three years, 11 countries, 1,164 people trained and 26 public engagement events held, the VakaYiko programme has come to an end. Emily Hayter shares some of the successes and things we have learnt. Continue reading
Onesimo Maguwu tells that there need to be some way of making the ‘messages’ more relevant to the policymakers for evidence-based policy in health care. Continue reading