Background and Information
SEWA Bharat’s UN WOMEN supported programme for ‘the Empowerment of Women in Rural and Informal Setting through Capacity Development’ was implemented for 2 years from 2012 to 2014 in the States of Uttarkhand and Rajasthan in India. The expected outcome of the project was to address the challenges faced by women in rural and informal settings involved in agriculture and traditional craft products and to enhance and increase their productivity, income level and access to social protection measures. In Uttarakhand, 1500 women chilli growers from rural areas of Almora district and in Rajasthan, 1500 women tie-and-dye workers were covered under the project.
The overall objectives of the evaluation were:
UN Women commissioned an independent end-of-project Evaluation with the following objectives:
• What have been project achievements against outcomes?
• How has the project furthered women’s economic rights and in what ways has it contributed to their economic empowerment?
• What are some of the key lessons this project has to offer in terms of sustainability and long term impact?
• What recommendations can be drawn from the Evaluation to inform similar projects in the future?
Scope of the Final Evaluation
The specific questions addressed by the Evaluation were:
• What is the relevance of the project to the local context, with specific reference to women workers?
• Are the project goals, outcomes, outputs, indicators and activities logically connected through a theory of change? Does the project management structure contribute to the efficient running of the project?
• To what extent have project objectives and outcomes been achieved? What has contributed to achievement of outcomes and what factors have been barriers?
• What kinds of monitoring systems has the project adopted?
• How far have project strategies been cost effective in making an impact on the ground and at various levels?
• Can the project interventions continue beyond the support period? What kinds of mechanisms have been put in place to ensure sustainability of the project?
• Has the project helped in bringing long term changes in attitude towards women workers’ (access to and use of resources, decision-making power, division of labour etc.), within their own setting as well as among external stakeholders?
• In terms of sheer proportions, more women from Almora have reported benefits on various fronts than their counterparts in Jodhpur. In Almora, better management of earnings and savings, increased knowledge about the production process, greater confidence to negotiate rates and increase in knowledge of government schemes are the most significant gains in that order within the livelihoods domain.
• In Jodhpur, apart from the gains mentioned above, the most significant gains reported by women include increased knowledge about government schemes.
• In terms of enhanced capacities to produce high quality products, women in Almora were able to recall and apply what they have learnt much more effectively that their counterparts in Jodhpur. This stems in part from the control women have over the production process and their ability to negotiate the value add chain.
• The project has provided high value for money. The cost of the project per beneficiary (including programmatic, operational and overheads) comes to be Rs 1429 (approximately US $ 24) spread over a two year period.
• The projected outreach of the project is approximately 3000 (1500 in each site) women, over two years. The quarterly reports submitted by SEWA Bharat suggest that they have managed to reach out to 1005 women in Almora and Jodhpur, which is less than the target set by the project.
• A promising strategy employed by the project to make the project sustainable has been to create a cadre of agyavaan or women leaders. Similarly, initiating the setting up of cooperatives in Almora and trade committees in Jodhpur are very effective strategies towards building sustainability within the project. However, this requires significant consolidation.
• The project is too nascent to show impact at this point but some of the likely long-term changes are reflected in the way women’s participation and leadership has evolved over the project period. Thus for example, in Jodhpur, women’s mobility for training and capacity building projects has opened the idea that at least in groups and escorted by another reliable woman, women can step out of the house. Similarly, in Almora, the coming together of the SHG has created a space for the women to meet and discuss issues, gain information and also save for a rainy day.