Part 1 Global Summary: Tool Building, Testing and Training



About the GEM Project

The Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM) for ICT initiatives is an innovative evaluation guide for ICT practitioners seeking an appropriate gender framework and analysis tools for their information and communication technology (ICT) interventions.

GEM was developed by the Association for Progressive Communications Women's Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP), a global network that facilitates the strategic use of ICTs in support of women's actions and agendas. Since 1994, APC WNSP has worked globally, co-ordinating research and "on-the-ground" activities that have highlighted the need for strengthening consideration of gender concerns in the planning and implementation of ICT initiatives.

In 1997, as a contribution to the Global Knowledge conference held in Toronto, the APC WNSP began an evaluation of its own research activities to contribute to the development of a generic ICT audit tool designed to learn more about the role and impact of ICTs on development projects. APC WNSP saw that more comprehensive tools and criteria were needed when evaluating the role and use of ICTs from a gender perspective. From this experience, we initiated a 'Lessons Learned' Project to contribute to the development and strengthening of practical, relevant and sustainable women's networking initiatives at the global, regional and national level in 1999. Through this project, we began the process of creating a framework and developing methodologies that will help us determine if ICTs have really improved women's lives. As more and more of today's development work and money is channelled into projects that employ ICTs, their effects on women are of great importance. For women, the accessibility of ICTs requires adequate equipment, information, financing, organisation, training and time. Evaluation of ICT development work is therefore critical to ensure gender equality and women's empowerment are addressed.

The first step in this process was taken in Manila, Philippines. In January 2001, 35 ICT practitioners from 16 countries gathered for a workshop on "Building An ICT Gender Evaluation Tool". The discussion at this workshop was our starting point in developing the GEM tool. The first version of the tool was completed in October 2001. After six months, we published the revised version and we were ready to test the tool. The GEM project was our main testing ground.

The GEM project's aim is to strengthen and sustain gender accountability in global, regional and national ICT networking initiatives by:

  • developing evaluation methodologies for ICT initiatives
  • generating research on the gender dimensions of ICT, particularly its impact on gender equality, women's empowerment and social transformation
  • catalysing a process of resource sharing and tools-building
  • providing insights and new directions for projects and initiatives, policy interventions and more meaningful use of ICTs for and by women worldwide
  • providing training to undertake gender evaluation of ICT initiatives
  • facilitating the creation of a network of "gender equality and ICT champions" (both individuals and organisations), with increased capacity in evaluation, policy, advocacy, and training

Through the GEM project, the evaluation tool has undergone testing and refining in the last 18 months.


GEM Tool Overview

The GEM Tool is a guide to integrating gender analysis into evaluations of initiatives that use Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for social change.

It provides a means for determining whether ICTs are really improving women's lives and gender relations as well as promoting empowering change at the individual, institutional, community and broader social levels.

The GEM tool contains:

  • Theory: a gender analytical framework as well as basic concepts and principles of evaluation.
  • Practice: practical 'how-to' approaches and worksheets to help you conduct your own evaluation.

GEM can be used by practitioners, including:

  • Organisations using ICT for development, human rights and other issues
  • Project managers and project staff using ICT in projects without a specific gender or women's focus
  • Evaluators working in the ICT field
  • Donors and development agency staff working in the ICT field
  • Gender focal points that support women's and ICT issues
  • Policy makers
  • ICT planners
  • Consultants in the area of gender and ICT

The guide provides users with an overview of the evaluation process (including links to general evaluation resources) and outlines suggested strategies and methodologies for incorporating a gender analysis throughout the evaluation process. GEM is not simply an evaluation tool. It can also be used to ensure that gender concerns are integrated into a project planning process.


Learning for Change

Learning for Change is the overall framework that we use in the APC WNSP evaluation model. Our model is based on the notion that learning is continually evolving and dynamic. It is interactive and not static.

The WNSP evaluation model focus examines how an ICT intervention has affected changes at an individual, organisational, community and broader social level from a gender perspective.

Special attention is directed to self and social change. This means that throughout an evaluation process there is an emphasis on understanding the dynamic relationship between an ICT initiative and both self and social change. We use the term "self" to mean not only individuals but also the organisations and communities involved in an ICT initiative. Focusing on self-change in an evaluation then means examining the dynamic relationship between ICT initiatives and the way individuals, organisations and communities operate.

Focusing on social change means that an evaluation process must scrutinise the relationship between the ICT initiative and the broader social, political, cultural, and economic context and seek to understand how this context affected an ICT initiative and vice versa.

Gender Analysis

Gender analysis in evaluation involves a systematic assessment of the different impacts of project activities on women and men. Gender analysis within an ICT context asserts that power relations involving class, race, ethnicity, age, and geographic location interact with gender to produce complex inequalities relating to social change in general, and those changes brought on by ICTs in particular. Disaggregating data by sex, analysing the sexual division of labour, and understanding the gender disparities of access to and control over resources are basic components of a gendered approach to evaluation.

GEM Knowledge Sharing Site

The GEM website www.apcwomen.org/gem was built through a collective process of structured consultations, face-to-face discussions and the collaborative work of our Knowledge Site managers. The main features of the GEM site are the GEM tool; information about the GEM project, links to WNSP's research on gender and ICTs and relevant evaluation resources; news about GEM-related activities; and information about the community of GEM practitioners. Printer-friendly versions of documents and a downloadable version of the GEM tool are also available from the site. The site is bilingual in Spanish and English. The GEM Spanish site www.apcwomen.org/gem/esp has total correspondence with the English site. The GEM tool is also available in Portuguese at www.apcwomen.org/gem/portuguese/index.htm.

GEM Intranet: The GEM Intranet was developed to enable the WNSP and its project team, GEM testers and partners, to work together collaboratively. Currently the content includes profiles of GEM testers and projects, resources such as GEM PowerPoint presentations, GEM articles and graphics, a quick reference guide and information about regional workshops.