UN Women in Ukraine commissioned a cluster evaluation of its work in two projects that contributed to the three priority outcome areas of its Strategic Note. The evaluation assessed the work done to date in the following two projects: (1) “Building Democratic, Peaceful and Gender-Equal Society in Ukraine” (December 2017 – April 2021), funded by the Government of Norway; and (2) “Decentralization and Law Enforcement Reforms: Transformative Approaches to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Ukraine” (February 2018 – December 2022), funded by the Government of Denmark.
The purpose of the cluster evaluation was to assess the extent to which results were achieved as per the project agreements, document lessons learned and obtain data and analysis that will help inform the future decision-making of the Ukraine Country Office (CO), donors, other UN agencies, Ukrainian CSOs and the Government of Ukraine (GoU). The cluster evaluation was conducted over a six-month period (January–June 2021) and was based on an extensive document review, key informant interviews and focus group discussions with 80 stakeholders and project beneficiaries.
Some of the positive findings of the evaluation included that the projects are well aligned with UN Women’s SN and the GoU’s priorities, and that both projects were able to deliver almost all planned outputs on time, in many cases surpassing planned targets. This was highlighted as a particularly important achievement, while working in both a conflict zone and amidst national and local elections, as well as a global pandemic. The evaluation team (ET) also noted that overall UN Women and its project teams have a positive reputation and that there is a high level of national and local ownership of the interventions.
The ET dedicated substantial analysis to the Community Mobilization for Empowerment (CME) approach and concluded that the CME approach has contributed significantly to increasing women’s participation in community-level decision-making and leadership. However, there is still need to adjust the methodology to take the approach to the next level of transformative change.
The evaluation also noted that UN Women is clearly a leader in advancing the WPS agenda in Ukraine and specifically the localization of the WPS action plans. This approach stands as an innovative good practice that could be emulated both elsewhere in Ukraine and more globally. However, there are some potential constraints related to the financial and human resource capacity of local authorities to implement these plans. Additionally, the evaluation highlighted that at the community level women and vulnerable groups identified economic security as being more important than physical security (the latter being the focus of the projects).
Regarding efforts towards EVAWG, the ET noted that the projects have achieved results, but more focus was given to GBV response rather that prevention, which is the priority in the SN Outcome 2. (“transformative changes in social norms, attitudes and behaviours [being] achieved at community and individual levels to prevent GBV”.) Targets and expected results relating to GBV were also set at a level that was too ambitious to be achieved within the timeframe and scope of the project.
The evaluation also highlighted a few areas where the CO has an opportunity for growth, including a stronger emphasis on coordination between RPs and contractors, and between local government and community structures. Additionally, the ET provided several observations on where and how the M&E system could be strengthened to be more useful to the CO.
Overall, the UN Women CO has found the cluster evaluation to be very helpful in better understanding the projects working in the Eastern parts of the country and of the progress against the Strategic Note. Useful lessons learnt have been highlighted and will be considered by the CO during annual work planning, ongoing implementation and monitoring, and for the development of the second CO Strategic Note (2023 – 2027) and new project documents.
In principle the CO agrees with- and accepts most recommendations made by the evaluation team. That being said, there are contextual considerations that will impact its’ ability to implement all recommendations. For example, adding Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) as a fourth outcome area under the next Strategic Note (SN) will be funding dependent, and revising the ToC approaches under the next SN will need to be respectful of corporate/donor requirements.
Of the 9 recommendations provided by the evaluators, UN Women Ukraine is:
accepting 5 recommendations;
partially accepting 3 recommendations;
rejecting 1 recommendation.
The CO is committing to 14 action points stemming from the recommendations.