Evaluating SDGs with an equity-focused and gender-responsive lens

Report of the 2016 New York High-Level Panel and Technical Seminar

A new report of this event has been compiled, and can be viewed here.

No one left behind.

Evaluating SDGs with an equity-focused and gender-responsive lens


High-Level event: Tuesday, 15 March, 3-5pm followed by reception
Technical event: 16-17 March
New York, USA


Organizing AgenciesEvalGender+United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG) and the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) of UN Women, in collaboration with EvalPartnersGlobal Parliamentarians Forum for EvaluationInternational Organizations for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Coneval MexicoSwiss Development Cooperation, the Government of Sri Lanka and the Government of Tunisia.                                        

A strong call for review and follow-up mechanisms that will “leave no one behind”

With the launch of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, the review of national-level implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the adoption of the UN General Assembly Resolution on evaluation capacity building (A/RES/69/237) and the celebration of 2015 International Year of Evaluation, as well as the World Humanitarian Summit taking place in May 2016, the global community has a significant opportunity to continue bringing evaluation to the forefront of the new sustainable development goals.

The new 2030 Agenda shapes the sustainable and equitable development discourse and action for the next 15 years. To meet the central imperative of ‘leaving no one behind’, the SDG’s follow-up and review mechanism aims to monitor and evaluate progress for all. Among the 9 principles that will guide the SDG review and follow-up mechanism, there is an explicit mention on the need to:

  • use data that “will be rigorous and based on evidence, informed by country-led evaluations and data which is high-quality, accessible, timely, reliable and disaggregated by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migration status, disability and geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts”;
  • enhance capacity-building support for developing countries, including the strengthening of national data systems and evaluation programmes;
  • develop processes that are  people-centered, gender-sensitive, respectful of human rights and have a particular focus on the poorest, most vulnerable and those furthest behind.

In line with the SDG follow-up and review mechanism, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action also calls for strengthening accountability mechanisms for gender equality, including of national gender equality mechanisms, national human rights institutions and regulatory bodies.


Leave no one behind: High-level event and technical workshop, 15-17 March 2016, New York

From 15 to 17 March 2016, the evaluation community gathered in New York to reflect on how to evaluate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with an equity-focused and gender-responsive lens. The event was organized under the leadership of the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) of UN Women, EvalGender+ and United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG) in collaboration with EvalPartners, Global Parliamentarians Forum for Evaluation, International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Swiss Development Cooperation, CONEVAL Mexico, the Government of Sri Lanka and the Government of Tunisia.

The high-level event engaged ministers, parliamentarians, senior leaders from international organizations, and civil society representatives. The technical workshop addressed technical aspects such as the relevance of the new metrics and agreed indicators, the complexity of SDGs and the power of partnerships, strategies to strengthen gender responsiveness of national evaluation systems, as well as the demand for and use of evaluation with an equity-focused and gender-responsive lens in policymaking.

The high-level event featured delegates from member states, international organizations and parliamentarians and addressed strategies for building an enabling environment to evaluate the SDGs with equity-focused and gender-responsive lens. The panel pointed to the importance of the evaluation community to integrate gender perspectives in evaluation to make sure “no one is left behind”. The technical workshop delved into different aspects essential to take into consideration as we approach evaluation of SDGs. The key take away messages from the discussions include:

  • New metrics for assessing SDGs should include a transformative lens to make sure we include voices of women and the most vulnerable. Evaluation is a tool to grasp power relations and undercover gender norms. Data disaggregation is not enough if we want to ensure “no one is left behind”. There is a need for statistics departments to work jointly with evaluators. Responsibility relies on joint work among statisticians, evaluators, policymakers and parliamentarians.
  • The complexity of the SDGs showcases a new reality for evaluation. To address this complexity, evaluation will need to look into boundaries, perspectives and interactions. This includes devising new roles for evaluators as facilitators, expanding the evidence universe, and making sure the voices of the most vulnerable are heard.
  • Parliamentarians have a very important role to play as promoters of gender-responsive evaluation for the SDGs. They are able to build the demand for gender-responsive evaluation, and link policymakers to evaluations in order to strengthen accountability.

Attendees of the event made a commitment to moving forward in evaluating the SDGs with a more equity-focused and gender-responsive lens by increasing collaboration. Evaluators should drive the invitation to re-frame the SDG agenda for the next 15 years with an emphasis on transformative change. There is a need to focus on who is being left out and identify ways of bringing them in, rather than staying with aggregate measures to understand the realities. Evaluators should become activists and not just experts, and work together with policymakers to ensure evidence is brought back to the driver’s seat.

The event marked the culmination of the multi-stakeholders dialogue that included an on-line consultation launched in January 2016 that aimed at helping strengthen monitoring and evaluations systems to assess SDGs with an equity-focused and gender-responsive lens.


Agenda of the event

Presentations during the Event


How to ensure the Sustainable Development Goals will be evaluated with a focus on “leaving no one behind”?


- PPT by Marco Segone, UNEG Chair;

Director, UN Women Independent Evaluation Office; Co-chair, EvalGender+

- Keynote Speech by Maithree Wickramasinghe,

Professor at the University of Kelaniya, Gender and Evaluation advocate - Sri Lanka


The relevance of “new metrics” (measurement tools and indicators) for the evaluation of SDGs with a focus on “leaving no one behind”

- PPT by Stefan Schweinfest, Director,

United Nations Statistics Division


Workshop 1: The relevance of 'new metrics' for the evaluation of SDGs - Data for development and indicators for equity and gender equality

- PPT by Workshop Keynote Speaker: Francesca Grum,

Chief, Social and Housing Statistics Section, United Nations Statistics Division


Workshop 2:  Evaluation and Complexity — dealing with the increasing complexity of development ensuring “no one is left behind”

- PPT by Claudia Maldonado, Director, CLEAR Centre, Latin America

- PPT by  Thomas A. Schwandt, Ph.D, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Workshop 3: Demand for and use of evidence from evaluation — understanding the political economy of equity focused and gender-responsive evidence

- PPT by Arild Hauge, Deputy Director, UNDP Independent Evaluation Office

- PPT by Ada Ocampo, Senior Evaluation Advisor, UNICEF Evaluation Office


Presentation of Thematic workshops discussions – Key issues and suggestions for follow-up

- Summary Workshop 1 presented by Andrea Cook, Director Evaluation Office, UNFPA

- Summary Workshop 2 presented by Colin Kirk, Director Evaluation Office, UNICEF, Co-chair, EvalPartners

- Summary Workshop 3 presented by Kabir Hashim, Minister of Public Enterprise Development, Sri Lanka and Chair of the Global Parliamentarian Forum for Evaluation



Watch here the recording of High-Level Event held on March 15/2016


Technical Seminar: “Towards an Equity-focused and Gender -responsive framework to evaluate the SDGs

Morning session 16 March: How to ensure the Sustainable Development Goals will be evaluated with a focus on “leaving no one behind”?


Towards an Equity-focused and Gender -responsive framework to evaluate the SDGs

Afternoon session 16 March: The relevance of “new metrics” (measurement tools and indicators) for the evaluation of SDGs with a focus on “leaving no one behind”


Hear a recording of the event

Click here to listen to a recording of the event.



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