The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) has implemented the Women’s Election and Leadership Program in several countries to develop the capacity of women to participate in the election process as election officials and to develop leadership skills among women. These programs provide a blend of technical knowledge and soft skills to enable trainees to effectively use the knowledge and skills gained in electoral roles.
For the implementation of these programs in Cambodia, Indonesia, and Myanmar, IFES has employed progressively more sophisticated monitoring and evaluation (M&E) strategies to determine whether anticipated outcomes were being achieved, and to determine whether additional impacts beyond those envisioned at the program design stage are being realized.
In both Cambodia and Indonesia, a blend of pre-post testing and post-activity qualitative research with trainees and other program stakeholders (including election commissions) was utilized. Data from these evaluation tools determined that while the trainees valued the technical knowledge they gained on the electoral process through these skills-building trainings and the opportunities it opened for them in the elections sector, they felt that the leadership skills they learned are more valuable in terms of providing skills that they could use in the professional, social, and family realms. Feedback from the women also demonstrated the degree to which the women, unprompted, went on to share the information gained during the training within their organizations and communities.
The findings from Cambodia and Indonesia have been used to further develop the program for the current Myanmar women’s leadership initiative to include activities in-between training modules to allow the women to use their leadership skills and cascade relevant electoral information within their communities in the run-up to the 2015 general election.
The M&E strategy has also evolved to incorporate the use of Most Significant Change methodology to determine critical behavioral, attitudinal, and other changes being experienced by the trainees as a result of program activities. IFES believes that similar to the Cambodia and Indonesia experience, findings from the evaluation of the Myanmar program will inform further fine-tuning of future women’s leadership programs.