Marissa Fortune is a current Outreach, Advocacy and Knowledge Services intern for ISSAT. She obtained her Bachelor degree from McGill University in Political Science and International Development and is currently a first year student in the Master of Development Studies program at the Graduate Institute.
Before coming to Geneva, Marissa worked in various capacities within the Canadian Public Service, including as a policy analyst for Employment and Social Development (ESDC) and a Policy Officer for the Security and Admissibility Risk Unit of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). While completing her undergraduate studies, she interned at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) and assisted with the coordination of the third annual Professional Training Program on the Prevention of Mass Atrocities.
Marissa’s main interests lie in the field of peace and conflict studies, including negotiation and mediation as well as post-conflict reform and sustainable development. She is also interested in the role that gender plays in conflict, peace-building and security. She is thrilled to be joining ISSAT as an intern and looking forward to gaining a more intimate knowledge of security sector and justice reform
In 2018, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Rule of Law, Justice, Security and Human Rights Unit requested ISSAT’s support to conduct an evaluation of their Colombia Country Programme on Rule of Law and Human Rights for Sustaining Peace and Fostering Development. The objectives of ISSAT’s evaluation were threefold:
- To analyse and understand the extent to which Global Program efforts improved Country Program implementation of RoL projects,
- To assess the extent to which RoL was integrated into the Country Program, and
- To build evidence for a flexible guide for developing good practice monitoring.
ISSAT’s methodological approach explicitly focused on identifying the strategic rationale and effects achieved by the UNDP. This focus on outcomes was specifically designed to identify and evaluate how the program was able to contribute to concrete changes in security and justice conditions. This included documenting the extent to which gender equality was mainstreamed into the RoL interventions supported by UNDP. The information gathered was structured according to the OECD-DAC evaluation criteria with specific emphasis placed on the core areas of Relevance, Effectiveness/Impact, Efficiency and Sustainability. The evaluation found UNDP’s will to systematically promote gender equality, the allocation of resources to improving technical and strategic capacity to be highly effective in fulfilling its institutional commitment to promote gender equality. Activities that support this finding are two Gender Equality Seal processes that the country office went through, appointment of a national expert at the strategic planning level, appointing several gender focal points to ensure a wide institutional reach and development of a gender strategic plan and a corresponding action plan.
Gender equality and empowering women was included as a crosscutting issue in the inception report and evaluation methodology that ISSAT submitted to UNDP/Colombia. To understand the extent to which gender equality has been mainstreamed, the evaluation drew inspiration from UN Sustainable Development Goal 5, the OECD’s Gender Equality Policy Marker (GEPM), and the “Women, Peace and Security” framework. In order to reconcile these frameworks for evaluation purposes, the methodology sought specific information on UNDP’s efforts towards:
- Gender parity: the representation of women and girls for their meaningful participation in the targeted programme or intervention. The evaluation reported increased gender parity in UNDP supported projects.
- Gender equality: equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys. The evaluation has found that the UNDP’s added value is recognised by partners in promoting gender equality.
- Gender mainstreaming: the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action. The appointment of a national expert and several gender focal points point out to concrete steps in the implementation of the gender strategic plan.
In recent years, UNDP Colombia has invested significantly in their internal capacity to assist national partners in promoting gender equality in the application of RoL. This includes UNDP Colombia undergoing two Gender Equality Seal processes. The UNDP Gender Equality Seal Programme is aimed at closing persistent gender gaps in the workplace where UNDP provides government partners with tools, guidance and specific assessment criteria to ensure successful implementation and certification.
In addition, UNDP Colombia has appointed a national expert to advice at the strategic planning level and has appointed several gender focal points to ensure a wide institutional reach. The expert team led a revision of the gender equality portfolio and captured the gender mainstreaming of the country office in practice.
Last but not least, UNDP Colombia has developed its gender strategic plan through a consultation process with women’s civil society networks and a corresponding action plan. As a result, the information available for the evaluation enabled for a quality baseline from which to triangulate information using the methodology proposed. Normally, such information is challenging to obtain in both quality and quantity.
ISSAT had incorporated gender parity, equality and mainstreaming as a cross cutting issue in its evaluation methodology from the start. A systematic approach was used during the desk-review phase as well as in the design of the semi-structured questionnaires and group discussions conducted during the field-research phase. It was also duly taken into consideration when identifying the interviewees and participants in the group-discussions.
To have a member of the evaluation team with the pertinent knowledge, expertise and commitment to this methodological approach was a key factor for the consistency in the application of the gender methodology and analysis. It also worked as a catalyst of the knowledge and experience of the other team members.
- The adoption of non-discrimination as a norm, as done by UNDP, can contribute to the inclusion of vulnerable groups including ethnic minorities, women and children in defining programme objectives and priorities, thereby leading to improved gender equality through behavioural change in both the implementing institution and target audience.
- Using a Human Rights Based and gender sensitive lens for evaluations can increase commitment and concrete actions to facilitate the implementation of human rights and gender equality standards.
- Outcome-level reporting which also includes the collection and presentation of gender disaggregated data can demonstrate trends and gaps in achieving gender equality and lead to a better analysis of needs which in turn could improve gender sensitive programming.
- The inclusion of gender parity, equality and mainstreaming as a cross cutting issues should be systematised across all evaluations and added to the methodology - in order to ensure gender aspects are evaluated in a holistic manner and that their linkages to other programme objectives are systematically established.
- Including a gender expert as a team member was of significant value. It not only ensured the inclusion of a gender dimension throughout the mandate, but also succeeded in enhancing the focus on and awareness of gender issues among both team members, the mandating organisation and national counterparts who were engaged in the mandate.
Case study published in July 2019.