Finland Praised for Contribution to Good Practices in Gender Equality in Development Aid

September 6, 2018

Indufor has been working on a project “Evaluation on Improvement of Women’s and Girls’ Rights in Finland’s Development Policy and Cooperation” for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland. The final results were presented in a seminar, held on 23 August 2018 in Helsinki and hosted by the ministry, to a large and enthusiastic audience, proven by several comments and vivid open discussion. The Minister of Foreign Trade and Development, Ms Anne-Mari Virolainen, who also gave the opening words for the event, emphasised the importance of the topic to Finland and was very pleased with the results and recommendations of the evaluation.

Minister of Foreign Trade and Development, Ms Anne-Mari Virolainen

Goal and methodology

The goal of the evaluation was to assess the value, merit and shortcoming of Finland’s practices, programmes and policies in promoting women and girls’ rights through multilateral, multi-bilateral, bilateral and civil society cooperation during 2012–2017. The ministry specifically wanted to learn from good practices, and the evaluation thus searched for gender changes and mechanism contributing to these changes. This was enabled though the use of an adapted Outcome Harvesting (OH) approach. OH is different from the more conventional evaluation methods as it does not criticize or raise examples of unsuccessful results. Instead adapted OH identified results in terms of behavioral changes in actors that were relevant to promote the rights of women and girls and traced these changes back to the contribution of Finland. Both positive and negative changes were identified. The larger goal was to provide tools to overcome the gap between policy and practice. Prior to this evaluation, a separate evaluability study has been conducted in order to prepare for a subsequent evaluation. The earlier study pointed out that Finland’s commitment to promote gender equality has been clearly defined at the political level, but there has been a gap between theory (well-defined policies) and practice (effective implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of programmes).

Results and Recommendations

The evaluation concluded that Finland has contributed to good practices as well as to lessons learnt for promoting gender equality across all Finland’s aid modalities. However, it also identified gaps in Finland’s new gender Theory of Change (ToC), as well as in gender monitoring and evaluation capacity and systems. The study recommends the ministry (i) to improve strategic guidance by making the ToC more usable for practice, developing clear gender Action Plans, and basing individual Country Strategies and programmes on gender analyses; (ii) to enhance institutional and individual gender capacity at the ministry in Finland and among partners; and (iii) to continue to use a mixed modality approach to promote gender, in particular when strengthening civil society.

Results very well received by all stakeholders

The evaluation included field missions to Nepal, Kenya, Somalia and New York (the US), with a special focus on two multilateral organisations, UN Women and UN Population Fund (UNFPA). At the end, all stakeholders were very pleased and happy with the results. The report was praised for its deep dive into the topic and for the carefully evidence-based statements. Many participants also congratulated the team for providing rich data and useful lessons from the field missions to different countries  that can inform policy dialogue and programming at the higher levels – and thus make an important contribution to Finland’s gender equality work.

The evaluation report and a webinar recording on the results (held on 24 August 2018) can be found through this link.

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