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Mid-term evaluation of the National Gender & Women's Empowerment Strategy & Action Plan & Gender Support Programme

Deadline: 2 July 2010

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1. Background

The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) is the Women's Fund at the United Nations. It provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategies that promote women's human rights, political participation and economic security. Placing the realization of women's human rights and security is at the centre of all its efforts. UNIFEM promotes gender equality and links women's issues and concerns to national, regional and global agendas fostering collaboration and providing technical expertise on gender mainstreaming and women's empowerment strategies.

In 2006/7 a Gender Scoping Study (GSS), was commissioned by five donors (EC, DFID, USAID, CIDA and SIDA) in Zimbabwe due to shared concern over the fragmented approach to gender and women's empowerment programming and lack of clarity on mapping of stakeholders in the gender sector. The study revealed the non presence of a working body for the gender sector, which led to limited coordination at all levels; poor funding of the sector and non-existence of monitoring and evaluation systems to track progress within the sector and make corrective measures. The lack of a coordinated approach led to duplication of effort, inefficiencies and ineffectiveness in programming and made it difficult to identify gaps and priorities in the sector.

The glaring shortcomings pointed to the need to establish an implementation and management structure that is well coordinated with harmonized approach in the development and implementation of strategies and actions in the sector. The three year National Gender and Women's Empowerment Strategy and Action Plan (NGWESAP) 2008- 2011 was developed to address the above highlighted problems. The strategy was agreed after nation-wide consultative efforts by various stakeholders within the gender and women 's empowerment sector and is a working framework for implementation of strategies and actions in the gender sector. It is aimed at streamlining the work of the sector towards maximum impact on the lived realities of women, avoidance of duplication of effort, greater complementarities and coordination between and among CSOs/CBOs and donors.

Consistent with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, basket funding was recommended as the preferred option to support the gender and women's empowerment sector in Zimbabwe giving birth to the Gender Support Programme (GSP). In this arrangement, UNIFEM was selected as fund manager based on its neutrality and preexisting arrangement with the European Commission (EC) funds for Women Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) membership. Over time, other donors namely DFID and The Royal Danish Embassy made contributions to this fund which is now in excess of five million US dollars.

The Gender Support Programme is guided by 5 thematic areas prioritized and selected by stakeholders during the consultative process, these are:

  • Women and economic empowerment;
  • Women in decision-making;
  • Women and education;
  • Women and health;
  • Women migration, forced displacement and trafficking.

For all the above thematic areas there are cross-cutting issues, specifically Legal reform; Gender Budgeting; Disability; Gender and labour; Targeting and Male involvement.. Programmatic cross-cutting issues to be mainstreamed in all the thematic areas include Research and documentation, Institutional Capacity Strengthening and Strategic partnerships.

Each year UNIFEM puts out a call for proposals on the above thematic areas. These calls are responded to by several Women's organizations, FBOs', CBOs' and other groups that have the interests of women as their top priority. In 2009, UNIFEM made two calls for proposals and a total of 30 Grantees were successful. The grantees are meant to ensure the fulfilment of the thematic areas. Institutional assessments and monitoring visits of GSP grantees have been conducted with the aim of assessing impact, results and implementation of activities.

The midterm Mid-Term Evaluation is necessitated by three major forces; firstly, both NGWESAP and GSP are halfway to completion thus the need for a midterm reflection to inform future programming. Secondly, NGWESAP and GSP were conceived when Zimbabwe was undergoing a humanitarian crisis. However, with the signing of the Global Political Agreement, and the enactment of the Inclusive Government, Zimbabwe is now in a transitional period, this shift in the socio political and economic environment necessitates a Mid-Term Evaluation of the priorities set out in NGWESAP which informs GSP. Thirdly, a midterm Mid-Term Evaluation is in fulfilment of donor requirements and in conformity to UNIFEM's Evaluation Policy.

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