ECF MTR annex 6 gender by xHRYX2H



Enterprise Challenge Fund – Mid-Term Review

          Annex 6: A note on Gender

            Sarah Barlow and David Elliott

                   November 2009

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                                             Mid-Term Review: Enterprise Challenge Fund (Annex 6: Gender)

AusAID is committed to promoting equal opportunities for women and men as participants
and beneficiaries of development. As such, the ECF design and the subsequent contract for
implementing the ECF have both incorporated gender as an important part of the
programme. The Fund Manager contract states that:
“It [ECF] must ensure women, as well as men, are able to benefit. Care must be taken to
ensure that the process is gender sensitive by engagement with potential bidders, requiring
proposals to consider the effects on gender equality, including gender expertise in relevant
positions and measuring program impacts on male and female beneficiaries.”1
The contract requires, and ECF has worked, to mainstream gender in its processes. The
contract does not require ECF to positively discriminate in approval of projects which favour
women. The review team thinks this is sensible - a project that doesn’t meet the criteria is by
definition, unlikely to succeed, whether it focuses on gender issues or not. A more effective
approach is for ECF to take positive action to ensure that there is sufficient gender sensitive
and women focused projects, which are strong enough to meet the stated criteria.
In order to achieve this, the ECF has first to ensure that it has a reasonable understanding of
gender issues in the target countries: degrees of discrimination, roles of women, the
industries they tend to be involved in most, the constraints they face, and so forth, are all
important and relevant issues. ECF did not undertake any such assessments, so to a large
degree its activities lack direction.
Further, that it more effectively incorporates gender issues and women in its processes.
Such processes are categorised and commented on below.

1.1      Marketing
The approach to marketing the ECF in the partner countries was initially broad based, but in
some countries efforts were made to both target relevant women’s associations as well as
sectors that involve large numbers of women.
In six of the target countries, women’s associations contacted ECF for more information,
although many were not large enough, or had strong enough members, to be able to
develop appropriate and competitive applications and to contribute the minimum matching
grant contribution.
ECF claims that 45% of contacts with ECF came from sectors that traditionally involve large
numbers of women (agri-business, manufacturing and retail/wholesale trade). However, the
ECF did not undertake any analysis of the key sectors involving women in the targeted
countries, and does not have sufficient information to validate its assumptions regarding
female involvement or to add depth to its understanding of how women are involved (as
consumers, producers, employees, owners etc) and what constraints they face, if any.

1.2      Application process
The concept note and application forms require bidders to disaggregate the number of men
and women beneficiaries. In the latter form, bidders are required to complete a section
describing the likely benefits of the project for women.
In reality, and as noted in the main report, the vast majority of bidders were unable to
describe the potential benefits of their projects on poor people. They did not have enough
information about the poor and their needs, the types of benefits likely to emerge from the
project, or the scale of the benefits. Bidders were rarely able to accurately disaggregate

    Contract 42448: ECF for the pacific and South-East Asia. Schedule 1 – Scope of Services (Section 2.2, para f).

                                            Mid-Term Review: Enterprise Challenge Fund (Annex 6: Gender)

women and men within the target beneficiaries and a large proportion of the applications
tended to split potential beneficiaries 50:50 men and women, with no credible evidence to
substantiate this split. As stated earlier in this note it was unrealistic to expect business
bidders to be able to provide this kind of information accurately, if at all.

1.3      Appraisal/Approval
The assessment criteria used by the assessment panels include reference to gender. At the
concept note stage the issue of gender is incorporated in generic poverty impact criteria, but
at the application form stage there is a specific sub criterion that states:
“The extent to which the project will have a positive impact on women or, at the very least,
not increase gender inequalities.”
As only one of twenty-one criteria, and fairly loosely expressed, it is surprising that many of
the panel members interviewed by the review team saw gender issues as being a key
priority for the ECF. However, given the limited information provided to them by bidders (as
noted above) and the limited validation of this information, it was difficult for the panel to
make informed decisions on the potential pro gender impact of a project. As the ECF noted
in its July 2009 report2 on gender issues, this issue needs more in depth exploration if it is to
be taken seriously by appraisal panels. The review team, however, do not think it is
appropriate or even realistic, to expect the bidder to provide this information.

1.4      Implementation
Most of the approved ECF projects are at an early stage. A key argument presented in the
main report is that the ECF team should have a far greater involvement in the project
implementation process in order to help facilitate even more successful projects. This active
facilitation role might also involve ensuring that projects meet their gender related objectives.

1.5      M&E
As part of the monitoring process, ECF has sought input from a Coffey Gender Specialist to
try to capture the impact of the projects on women beneficiaries. As such, several of the
indicators in the M&E frameworks have been disaggregated by sex including employment.
The review team has some doubts as to the accuracy of the information collected given the
paucity of initial information on the beneficiaries, their characteristics and needs. In addition,
some of the key indicators, such as those relating to access to services and incomes are not
broken down by gender, which seems a strange omission.

1.6      Summary comments
It is too early to assess the possible impact of the projects on women, even if the M&E
frameworks were better able to collect this information. However, it appears anecdotally that
a number of the approved projects are likely to impact women favourably. Those that involve
women more directly as active producers (or harvesters) of agricultural produce are
particularly relevant.
As regards the fund management team itself, the ECF has attempted to ensure that women
are effectively incorporated in its management, staffing and project appraisal processes.
This is demonstrated as follows:
             A high proportion of ECF HQ staff are women, including the Project Manager. Two out
              of nine Country managers are women, although women were interviewed in all
              countries. This may in part be explained by the focus on accountants and

    Lessons Learned in the Application of Gender During the Enterprise Challenge fund Program July 2009. ECF.

                                     Mid-Term Review: Enterprise Challenge Fund (Annex 6: Gender)

          recommendations from financial institutions for possible candidates. Country Manager
          ToRs included outputs on gender mainstreaming and gender issues were incorporated
          into Country Manager training.
         On average 35% of the panel members were women, but their attendance tended to
          be lower than this, primarily because of family constraints. To its credit the ECF tried to
          respond to the needs of female panel members eg by paying for travel costs of a
          newborn to accompany a panel member. Despite these efforts, three female panel
          members resigned because of family commitments.
In conclusion, while information on the ECF’s impact on gender issues is limited to date, it
would appear that by their nature, a number of the approved projects are likely to benefit
women directly. Gender tends not to be an issue that features prominently in other challenge
funds. For example, the AECF does not ask for information on gender in either its concept
note or proposal. However, if AusAID wished to incorporate gender more strongly in the
ECF, then this needs to feature more clearly in its strategic objectives. In this case it is also
clear that ECF could take steps to mainstream gender more effectively, for example by:
         developing a better understanding of the key constraints women face in its target
          countries and thereby identifying market weaknesses which are constraining women’s
          development; and
         using this information to better target sectors and businesses which would be
          interested in addressing these weaknesses.


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