Episode Title: The Power of Evidence: The Utility of "Gender Transformative” Language in Evaluating Health Programmes
Tune in to the Power Of...podcast, a production by the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health. In this collection of conversations, we dive into critical, thought-provoking, and contemporary content to stimulate debate and dialogue with the aim of driving gender equality in global health.
Johanna Riha, hosts this podcast and works at the UNU-IIGH in Malaysia. She is passionate that the bold commitments towards gender equality in health must be met with changes to the underlying structural and systemic drivers for true transformation to occur. In this episode, Johanna continues the conversation to hear the perspectives of those evaluating health programs. They discuss the utility of gender transformative language in health programme evaluation and what more can be done to ensure health programmes address the structural barriers related to gender inequalities. The episode starts with views shared by Faiza Benhadid from the Center of Arab Women for Training and Research. She is a clinical psychologist and anthropologist with more than 40 years of experience working on gender and health programmes both in her native Algeria as well as globally for organisations like IPPF, EEU, the World Bank, and others. A second guest, Manuel Contreras-Urbina, a Senior Social Development Specialist at the World Bank, joins the conversation to share his views on the utility of gender transformative language when evaluating health programmes.
Johanna kicks off the conversation asking Faiza to share her experience on progress to date, vis-à-vis tackling gender inequalities in health. Faiza discusses the slow progress they have seen and how some places prove to be more ambitious than others in their efforts for change. Next, Manuel shares his thoughts on what gender transformation in health programs means to him, and how they are working to carry out actions and activities that confront gender stereotypes and patriarchy in society.
The conversation shifts as Manuel shares his experience in evaluating these programs. Are programs able to change norms, attitudes, and power relations? Are there unintended consequences from improving things in one area?
Knowledge should transform and result in positive actions and ideas to serve the community—ultimately helping to reduce overall inequality. The guests highlight that health programme evaluation is more than just rubber-stamping—saying whether an intervention was transformative or not. The work as evaluators has to go beyond this and be more comprehensive and complex to really analyse what parts of the programme benefit women independently of the outcome, giving communities a voice in this analysis.
As this episode comes to a close, Manuel raises the important point that it’s important to be strategic in the use of language, “what matters is the change we want to see and the language is a means to get there.”
Thanks for tuning in to this mini-series on the power of evidence!
Watch out for our next think piece by Jessica Horn on the power of feminist civil society. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe!