“It is essential that all planned evaluation pertaining to the CSF Funds take into consideration gender equality not only in the context of specific thematic evaluations but also in the phases of the evaluation process. In this regard, the AC welcomes the text of Article 55 (CPR) which states that ex ante evaluations shall comprise the adequacy of planned measures to promote gender equality and to prevent discrimination. The gender perspective should also be included in the continuing evaluation and in the evaluation ex post. This can be combined usefully with the Commission`s proposal that Managing Authorities, in conjunction with the monitoring committee, should undertake either general self-assessment exercises, specific evaluation studies or a structured reflection focusing on the application of the gender mainstreaming principle.” http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=701&langId=en&moreDocuments=yes

Evaluation from a gender perspective needs to

  • assess, interprete and judge the desing, the process of implementation as well as progress and results of the integration of the dual gender equality approach into ESF OPs, their programming, planning, implementation as well as monitoring and evaluation;
  • differenciate between the evaluation of specific actions (compensating gender based inequalities and discrimination and burning gender gaps directly) and gender mainstreaming strategies (tackling social structures, cultures and processes);
  • identify causes and good or bad practice reaching or missing explicit and integrated gender equality objectives set at EU or MS level:
  • develop recommendations for further improvement regarding gender equality integration into ESF programming.

Requirements for evaluating the coherent integration of gender equality in the ESF need to mirror the requirements described in the sections “analysis, “objectives” and “implementation” of this cycle and are also formulated in the EU Regulations and described in the monitoring section of this cycle. Unfortunately these general requirements have not been transferred and broken down to the guiding documents on monitoring and evaluation – except for the case of the guiding document for the ex-ante evaluation:

Guidance document on ex-ante evaluation

Besides requirements in the CPR, and especially in the ESF regulation, the EU Commission has formulated a guidance document for the ex-ante evaluation of the OPs. Gender equality is included in the guidelines the ex-ante evaluation – although again mixed with non-discrimination:

1.1.4. Horizontal principles

Article 55 (3) (l – m) CPR requires the ex ante evaluator to assess ‘the adequacy of planned measures to promote equal opportunities between men and women and to prevent any discrimination, in particular as regards accessibility for persons with disabilities; the adequacy of planned measures to promote sustainable development’.

Articles 7 and 8 CPR outline the content of these three horizontal principles while Article 87(3) CPR sets out more precise requirements for programmes, which should be assessed by the ex-ante evaluator.

The implementation of the ESI Funds should aim to eliminate inequalities and to promote equality between men and women, as well as to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

Article 7 of the CPR specifies that equality between men and women and the integration of gender perspective must be promoted in the preparation and implementation of programmes. Discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation must be prevented during preparation as well as implementation of programmes.

As far as equality between men and women is concerned, the formulation of both Article 7 and Article 87(3) (iii) CPR reflects the well established dual approach: both specific actions and the mainstreaming of the gender perspective are necessary. The ex ante evaluation should appraise how the aim of promoting equality has been taken into account in the preparation of the programme. For example: was the gender perspective taken into account in the socio-economic analysis? Is there any evidence that gender issues were explicitly taken into account in the programme design stage? Have equality bodies/organizations and other relevant stakeholders been consulted?

The ex ante evaluation should then appraise the description of the programme’s contribution to the promotion of equality between men and women and, where appropriate, the arrangements foreseen to ensure the integration of the gender perspective at programme as well as at operation level. The contribution should not be stated in general terms, but explained precisely: are clear objectives established and specific initiatives foreseen? As for the arrangements, the ex ante evaluation should examine whether the programming documents contain adequate provisions for the integration of the gender equality principle in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation processes.

For the promotion of equal opportunities and the prevention of discrimination, the ex ante evaluation shall appraise the description of specific actions during the preparation, design and implementation of the programme. For example: which steps were taken to associate relevant stakeholders in the identification of challenges/needs, definition of objectives, decision on the allocation of resources and the selection of actions to be supported? What arrangements are foreseen in relation to access to funding? Have precise requirements been formulated to ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities?

On the measures relating both to equality between men and women and to the prevention of discrimination member states must submit an opinion of the national equality bodies with the proposal for each programme under the Investment for growth and jobs goal (Article 87(3)(iii) CPR). The ex ante evaluator should review the steps made to meet this requirement. At regional level, it might be useful to consult also other bodies/organizations.”

Further reading

Monitoring and evaluation of European Cohesion Policy: Guidance document for ex-ante Evaluation, page 9 [pdf]

Evaluation during the programming period and ex post evaluation

Ongoing evaluations must be carried out throughout Operational Programme implementation by Member States. They include evaluations to assess effectiveness, efficiency and impact for each Operational Programme on the basis of an evaluation plan. At least once during the programming period, an evaluation shall assess how support from the Funds has contributed to the objectives for each priority. All evaluations are examined by the Monitoring Committee.

In order to comply with Regulation requirements on the promotion of gender equality (article 7 ESF Regulation), Member States must ensure that the objective of gender equality and the dual gender equality approach are fully integrated into these evaluations.

In contrast to the guidance document for ex ante Evaluation the guidance document for Monitoring and Evaluation of the ESF (June 2014) http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=701&langId=en&moreDocuments=yes
does not contain gender equality requirements for on-going and ex post evaluation – nor does the “Guidance Document on Evaluation Plans” http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docoffic/2014/working/evaluation_plan_guidance_en.pdf

This is crucial because the lack of coherence between the Regulations and the following guiding documents for monitoring and evaluation on EU level involves the danger that also in the funding period 2014 – 2020 ESF evaluation will not be conducted from a gender perspective.

This does not at all mean to underestimate special gender equality evaluations like the “Evaluation of the European Social Fund`s support to Gender Equality, 2007 – 2013” http://standard.gendercop.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Final-report-ESF-support-to-Gender-Equality.pdf
which are very valuable, because the results and recommendations to Member States and the EU Commission have shown the urgent need for step up efforts to coherently integrate the dual gender equality approach into ESF evaluation.

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Created: 2013/01/09   Changed: 2014/12/04