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The role of women's organisations in civil society building
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and scope of the programme evaluation What is the role of women’s
organisations in civil society building and how do the Dutch Co-financing
Agencies Cordaid, Hivos and Icco contribute to this role? These
were the key questions that were studied in this Programme Evaluation,
commissioned by Cordaid, Hivos and Icco to EOS Consult. The evaluation
was a follow-up to the programme evaluation of the Dutch CFAs on
civil society building, finalised in 2003, and it was directed toward
a more thorough analysis of the congruence between policies and
practices of civil society building on the one hand, and the support
to women’s organisations on the other.
objectives were to assess: (a) the significance of women’s organisations
in strengthening civil society, taking into account their objectives,
strategies and activities in promoting gender equality; and (b)
the relevance and quality of the support given to women’s organisations
by the CFAs. Women’s organisations are not always (or not primarily
or explicitly) supported by the CFAs for reasons of civil society
building, but rather to assist women in their efforts to achieve
equality or empowerment. That is why we had to analyse first the
work of the women’s organisations in terms of its impact on gender
equality, and secondly to examine their strategies in terms of civil
society building. In line with this approach, the following six
research questions were elaborated:
- What are
the objectives, strategies and results of activities of women’s
- To what extent
have their activities contributed to promoting gender equality?
- To what
extent have their activities contributed to a stronger civil society?
- What are
the policies and strategies of the CFAs underlying the support
to women’s organisations?
- How has the
support by Cordaid, Hivos and Icco contributed to the effectiveness
of women’s organisations in promoting gender equality and in strengthening
- How do the
partners view this support in comparison with support from other
and multilateral) donors?
The study was
conducted in Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Although the political
contexts are quite different, the issues of gender inequality are
more or less similar and women’s organisations seem to play an active
role in civil society in all three countries. The evaluation was
carried out from July 2003 to July 2004 and was organised in steps.
The first step pertained to the design of the Terms of Reference
and the methodological framework of the programme evaluation. Then,
the policies of Cordaid, Hivos and Icco with regard to civil society
building and gender equality were analysed on the basis of interviews
and available documents. An inventory was made of the 42 women’s
organisations supported by the CFAs in the three countries and the
26 organisations that are supported at regional or worldwide level.
In order to get more information on experiences with civil society
building and CFA support, an e-mail questionnaire was distributed
among all of these organisations. In Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa
19 women’s organisations were visited to collect data about results
and effectiveness. The national contexts of civil society and the
women’s movement were studied on the basis of available literature.
Each country study was concluded with a workshop in order to validate
and share the findings. Finally, all findings were brought together
in the synthesis report in order to arrive at overall conclusions
of the women’s organisations to gender equality was studied with
the help of a gender analysis framework, which distinguishes four
dimensions of gender equality: economic independence, political
participation, socio-cultural status and physical integrity. The
contribution of women’s organisations to the process of civil society
building was analysed with the help of the dimensions of civil society
building identified and used in the previous programme evaluation
on civil society building. The dimensions refer to four broad fields
of activity: strengthening organisational capacities, networks and
alliances, capacities for (policy) advocacy, and citizenship with
the aim of increasing participation of citizens in the public sphere.
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