United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) was created by the UN General Assembly in 2010 and became operational in January 2011. Gender equality is not only a basic human right, but its achievement has enormous socio-economic ramifications. Empowering women fuels thriving economies, spurring productivity and growth. Yet gender inequalities remain deeply entrenched in every society. Women lack access to decent work and face occupational segregation and gender wage gaps. They are too often denied access to basic education and health care. Women in all parts of the world suffer violence and discrimination. They are under-represented in political and economic decision-making processes. For many years, the UN has faced serious challenges in its efforts to promote gender equality globally, including inadequate funding.  Grounded in the vision of equality enshrined in the UN Charter, UN Women, among other issues, works for the:
•    elimination of discrimination against women and girls;
•    empowerment of women; and
•    achievement of equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, humanitarian action and peace and security.

UN-Women is headquartered in New York and in 2014 had 735 staff members organization-wide. UN-Women annual expenditure in 2014 was approximately US$ 270 million.

Evaluation Function Snapshot Independence Agenda Setting & Evaluation Planning Quality Assurance Use of Evaluation Joint Evaluation

Evaluation Function

UN Women regularly evaluates its own work to enhance accountability, inform decision-making and contribute to learning on the best ways to achieve women's empowerment and gender equality. This is done by supporting normative processes related to gender equality, implementing operational work at the field level and leading gender equality coordination work within the United Nations.

The evaluation function in UN Women focuses on achieving results in four areas:
•    Implementation of effective corporate evaluation systems
•    Implementation of effective decentralized evaluation systems
•    Promotion of UN coordination on gender-responsive evaluation
•    Strengthening of national evaluation capacities for gender-responsive evaluation systems

The Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) is the custodian of UN Women's evaluation function, which is governed by an Evaluation Policy. The IEO reports directly to the UN Women Executive Director and presents an Annual Report on Evaluation during Executive Board sessions. The UN Women Global Evaluation Advisory Committee acts as a forum for the Executive Director and the IEO to further ensure the independence, relevance and quality of its evaluation function and promote their use within UN Women. The IEO also develops an Evaluation Strategic Plan that is approved by the Executive Director.

UN Women carries out corporate and decentralized evaluations. Corporate evaluations are undertaken by the IEO with the support of external evaluators. They assess issues of strategic significance concerning effectiveness, organizational performance and normative and operational coherence. Decentralized evaluations are also conducted by external evaluators but managed by programme offices. All decentralized evaluations are quality-assured through the Global Evaluation Reports Assessment and Analysis System (GERAAS) and results are presented at the annual session of the Executive Board through the Annual Report on Evaluation. The Independent Evaluation Office has also established a Global Evaluation Oversight System to build awareness and sustain action on evaluation functions among senior managers. The system includes a dashboard that presents results for seven key performance indicators for the evaluation function, including at decentralized level. All evaluations are publicly available on the Global Accountability and Tracking of Evaluation (GATE) system along with their management responses. The IEO also develops guidance to mainstream gender equality and human rights perspectives in evaluation and a database to promote sharing of gender-responsive evaluations, see the Gender Equality Evaluation Portal and UN Women Training Centre. In response to multiple requests for consultants with both gender and evaluation expertise, in 2015, IEO launched a publicly accessible Gender and Evaluation Consultant Database (GECD) providing a link between prospective consultants and institutions in need of evaluators with gender equality expertise. Currently, the database has 70 consultants and it is searchable by keyword, including region, language, and thematic area of expertise.

Promoting a culture of evaluation within UN Women

UN Women's Evaluation Handbook provides the tools necessary for the management of all phases of the evaluation process: planning, preparation, conduct and follow-up/use. In 2015, the IEO issued guidance on how to manage country portfolio evaluations (CPE). CPEs aim to provide an in-depth assessment of UN-Women’s contribution to development effectiveness with respect to gender equality and the empowerment of women at the country level. UNEG's Guidance Document, "Integrating Human Rights and Gender Equality in Evaluation" is also a key reference for all UN-Women evaluations.

Promoting coordination on gender-responsive evaluation

IEO supports coordination on gender-responsive evaluation, in particular through its active engagement with UNEG. The Director is currently serving as the UNEG Chair (2015) and IEO staff are actively engaged in all areas of the UNEG programme of work. IEO also supports the mandatory reporting on the United Nations System Wide Action Plan for gender equality and the empowerment of women Evaluation Performance Indicator by working with the UNEG Working Group on Gender Equality and Human Rights to develop guidance and support integration of gender equality in evaluation and monitor and report on progress of UNEG members. Regional Evaluation Specialists actively engage with regional groups of evaluation professionals.

Promoting national evaluation capacity development
UN Women evaluation principle of participation and inclusiveness is key to evaluation at UN Women. This mandates that evaluation should foster the participation of key stakeholders (including UN Women's key partners in government, civil society and the UN system) during the preparation, conduct and utilization/follow-up stages of the evaluation process to ensure the credibility, quality and use of the evaluations, including during the validation of the evaluation findings. The policy notes that it is particularly important to enable the participation of women and any group subject to discrimination, with the understanding that doing so facilitates consensus building, ownership and use of evaluation findings and recommendations by stakeholders. 

In partnership with EvalPartners, UNEG and other actors, UN-Women provides leadership including by participating in EvalPartners, and co-leading EvalGender+ and actively advocating for integration of gender perspectives in the global evaluation agenda and national evaluation systems.

Within the framework of EvalPartners, in 2015 UN-Women continued its strategic partnership with various partners and evaluation associations to reinforce nationally- owned and driven evaluation aimed at achieving greater gender equality. In this framework, several efforts were made to increase the engagement of parliamentarians in the demand for and use of evaluation in Arab States, and the Asia Pacific, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean regions.

In responding to the SDG principle of ‘no one left behind’, IEO within the umbrella of EvalPartners took the lead for the establishment of EvalGender+. EvalGender+ is a global multi-stakeholder partnership to strengthen national capacities for gender-responsive evaluations. 35 organizations from the UN system, multilateral banks, CSO and voluntary organizations for professional evaluation are now members of EvalGender+. EvalGender+ will support global efforts in developing a framework to evaluate the Sustainable Development Goals with a gender lens, and promoting gender-responsive national evaluation systems. EvalGender+ was launched during the Global Evaluation Week at the Parliament of Nepal in November 2015 and is co-led by the UN-Women IEO.








Evaluation Policy

Focus areas:
•    Implementation of effective corporate evaluation systems
•    Implementation of effective decentralized evaluation systems
•    Promotion of UN coordination on gender-responsive evaluation
•    Strengthening of national evaluation capacities for gender-responsive monitoring and evaluation systems

Human Resources (2015):
•    Director: M
•    Evaluators at the central level:6 F/1 M
•    Support staff : 2 F
•    Decentralized evaluation staff: 5 F/2 M [Regional Evaluation Specialists & JPO]

Evaluations presented to the Executive Board in 2015:

    5 evaluative studies including two corporate evaluations on a) the contribution of UN-Women to women’s economic empowerment and b) UN-Women normative support work and its operational linkage (conducted by OIOS)

Evaluations produced by decentralized units in 2015:
•    28 evaluations, led by Regional, Multi-Country or Country Offices and HQ Divisions

Country portfolio evaluations:

    In 2015, the IEO issued guidance on how to manage country portfolio evaluations (CPE). CPEs aim to provide an in-depth assessment of UN-Women’s contribution to development effectiveness with respect to gender equality and the empowerment of women at the country level. Piloted in three countries in 2015, the CPE programme will be rolled out in 2016.

Evaluation Expenditure of central unit (in 2015):
•    US$ 6,272,545

See the Annual Report on the Evaluation Function (2015)

Key resources:



The Independent Evaluation Office of UN Women reports directly to the Executive Director. The Executive Director is responsible for ensuring the independence of UN Women's evaluation function, and for reporting on evaluation to the Executive Board. The Director of Evaluation has the authority to sign off on and distribute evaluation reports to the Executive Director without prior clearance from other parties within or outside the organization, and to the Executive Board. The IEO budget is managed by the Director of Evaluation. Evaluators abide by a statement of potential conflict of interest based on UNEG guidelines, which is included in every TOR.

In 2014, IEO took part in a Professional Peer Review by UNEG, which included an assessment of its independence, credibility and utility of evaluation at UN Women. Access the report here.


Agenda Setting & Evaluation Planning

The Corporate Evaluation Plan, which is approved by the Executive Director and presented to the Executive Board, outlines the corporate evaluations to be managed by the Independent Evaluation Office in the period 2014-2017. The purpose of the plan is to provide a coherent framework within which useful evaluation evidence is generated systematically on the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and, as far as possible, impact and sustainability, of work under the UN Women Strategic Plan 2014-2017. The eventual goal of these evaluations is to support UN Women's mission and help the organization better achieve gender equality and women's empowerment.

At the decentralized level, UN Women plans for evaluation through the decentralized integrated Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Plans (MERPs). Eight key parameters are considered in selecting corporate and decentralized evaluations, to ensure evaluative coverage at the appropriate level of UN Women's key areas of work and its organizational performance: relevance of the subject, significant investment, feasibility for implementing evaluation, demands for accountability from stakeholders, visibility and/or risk associated with the intervention, potential for replication and scale up, knowledge gap and potential for joint or UNDAF evaluation. For external, decentralized evaluation, at minimum one-third of the office portfolio is to be evaluated, with priority given to significant investment, it is mandatory to evaluate programmes/projects equal to or exceeding 33% of the overall country programme. If this is not the case, it is mandatory to evaluate (clustered or individually) a number of programmes/ projects that together equal at least 33% of the overall country portfolio. Evaluation is also mandatory when a commitment has been made to key stakeholders (donors, Members States, beneficiaries, etc.), for all strategic pilot initiatives that are designed for replication and scaling up. Also, mid-term programme/project evaluations will be conducted to feed into country-level evaluation.

The recommended minimum level of investment in evaluation is 3 percent of the total plan/programme budget. An additional 3 - 10% of overall programme budget should be allocated for monitoring, which reflects the importance of monitoring not only for programme management, but also for effective evaluation.

Quality Assurance


The Independent Evaluation Office maintains an evaluation quality assurance mechanism to continuously improve and enhance the quality and credibility of UN Women corporate and decentralized evaluations and of the evaluation function overall. IEO has established the Global Evaluation Reports Assessment and Analysis System (GERAAS). The GERAAS is an organization-wide system established to assess the quality of the evaluation reports of UN Women. In addition to providing the UN Women Executive Board and management with an independent assessment, the System's executive feedback, detailed analysis and recommendations improve the quality of evaluative evidence and evaluation oversight functions. The GERAAS uses the UNEG evaluation reports standards as a basis for review and assessment while ensuring specific standards relevant to UN Women and also incorporates the UN-SWAP Evaluation Performance Indicator criteria as established by UNEG. All final evaluations are assessed by an external independent reviewer.




Use of Evaluation


Completed UN Women evaluation reports are made publicly available on-line in the GATE system. In response to UN Women evaluation reports, Management Responses are issued by the head of the entity being evaluated. These are to be completed via the online GATE System within six weeks of finalizing all independent evaluations. Subsequently, responses are disseminated to key partners and the implementation of recommendations is monitored by IEO and reported via the Annual Report on the Evaluation Function that is presented every year to the Executive Board. In addition, the IEO is presenting a meta-analysis of all evaluations conducted every other year that will enhance the use of evaluation and in particular for decentralized evaluations.

To enhance use of corporate evaluations, IEO launched Transform – a Magazine for Gender-Responsive Evaluation to improve accessibility to information on good practices and lessons learned on what works for gender equality. IEO is also making use of other channels such as Twitter, synopsis of key evaluation findings, webinars and management briefs as a way of effectively communicating evidence and knowledge stemming from evaluations.

In addition, the UN Women global online evaluation community of practice continued to serve as a platform for exchange and information-sharing among UN-Women staff. The network reached 207 staff members globally, a 16 per cent increase from the previous year. The UN-Women IEO electronic newsletter keeps staff informed on the latest news on evaluation issues.

Joint Evaluation


UN Women's creation and mandate is a direct response by Member States to furthering the UN reform agenda for system-wide coherence in the area of Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment (GEWE) addressing system-wide gaps identified, including inadequate coordination and coherence, lack of accountability, and lack of authority on GEWE. UN Women has an essential role in supporting the evaluation of progress on the implementation of the UN system's commitments on GEWE, and specifically the implementation of the CEB's System-Wide Policy on GEWE and its associated Action Plan (SWAP).

The IEO contributes to coherence on gender equality evaluation in the UN system by coordinating the reporting on the Evaluation Indicator of the UN's System-Wide Action Plan (UN-SWAP), providing a repository of gender-related evaluations, fostering joint evaluations and ensuring the inclusion of a gender equality perspective in the work of the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG). The Director of UN Women IEO was elected Chair of the UNEG, which commenced in 2015. The UNW IEO staff is also actively involved in all UNEG strategic objective areas of work and is co-convening the Gender Equality and Human Rights Working Group.  The Regional Evaluation Specialists are also actively engaged in regional networks of evaluation professionals.




UNEG Members

Cyuma Mbayiha

UN Women

Ekaterina Dorodnykh

Evaluation Data Specialist, UN Women

Florencia Tateossian

Evaluation Specialist, UN Women

Inga Sniukaite

Chief, Evaluation Office , UN Women

Isabel Suarez

Evaluation Specialist, UN Women

Lisa Sutton

Director, UN Women

Michael Francis Craft

Evaluation Officer, UN Women

Inspection and Evaluation Division

Ross Tanner

UN Women

Sabrina Evangelista

Evaluation Specialist, UN Women

Soo Yeon Kim

UN Women

Tara Kaul

UN Women

Fact Sheet