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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2019 EO: Realizing Potential: Evaluation of UNICEF's Gender Action Plans

Executive summary

This report evaluates the quality, implementation and results of UNICEF’s two successive Gender Action Plans (GAPs) during the period 2014–2019. The evaluation’s two main objectives were:

  1. to contribute to improving the organization’s accountability for its performance and results on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, and
  2. to generate evidence and learning to guide effective action towards strengthening gender equality in programmes and systems.

The evaluation is explicitly not an evaluation of UNICEF’s Gender Section and its work, but rather of corporate engagement in, and commitment to, both successive GAPs.

The evaluation took place between February and October 2019. It was conducted by an independent team of four Gender Specialists. Its methodology analyzed global data; gathered input from more than 32 programme countries; and reviewed a full range of corporate processes. The specialists studied more than 500 documents and conducted more than 360 interviews. Consultations were held between September and November 2019 to present preliminary findings to key stakeholders, including UNICEF HQ and regional office senior management. The evaluation findings show that both GAPs were well aligned to relevant normative frameworks and adopted a pragmatic vision for gender equality. They were highly coherent with the UNICEF operating model, with GAP 2 introducing a defined theory of change. Both GAPs, however, lacked several key elements of a robust corporate gender instrument, mostly working within the alignment with the respective Strategic Plans and their programmatic scope. Some weak areas arose, notably within the humanitarian arena, which accounts for half of UNICEF’s programmatic expenditure globally.

Additionally, findings evidence that effort and resources were allocated to build the gender architecture and good progress improving staff gender parity, as well as to raise awareness of gender issues, addressing concerns of organizational culture. However, this was not matched by broad-based staff capacity development and a narrow leadership approach mainly focused on specific gender-targeted areas, and weak commitment to corporate gender-equality mainstreaming. In addition, findings indicate that UNICEF, although an active partner for gender equality at HQ level, it is not perceive as taking a proactive approach at country level, and its gender-related partnerships with civil society focus on project implementation rather than strategic concerns. Private sector partnerships are growing. Attention to gender equality in country programming has increased over time, but not consistently and largely dedicated to the targeted priorities, with programmatic approaches evolving particularly in child protection, education and social inclusion areas. Expenditure on gender-related issues also increased over time, approaching the 15 per cent self-determined target in 2019. Findings also show growing use of multisectoral approaches and greater engagement in innovation initiatives for gender equality.

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Report information

Year: 2019

Country/Office: Evaluation Office

Region: Headquarters

Type: Evaluation

Theme: Gender Equality

Language: English

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