Joint Statement Delivered by Laurie Phipps, Adviser for Economic and Social Affairs, on "UN Women Evaluation Function" Before the United Nations Women Executive Board

Laurie Shestack Phipps
Adviser for Economic and Social Affairs 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
May 31, 2012


Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you to UN Women for their presentation this morning.

On behalf of the delegations of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, we appreciate the opportunity for our countries to comment on UN Women’s report on its evaluation function for 2011. The report reflects the important steps that have been made to establish an independent and quality evaluation unit. We believe that UN Women’s transparent evaluation process and its emphasis on ensuring accountability and producing results contribute to good performance management practice and strengthen results-based management. We therefore congratulate UN Women on their work around national capacity building, joint evaluations, and system-wide approaches to evaluation.

We are pleased to see UN Women’s ambitions in striving for high standards in its new Evaluation Policy. Of particular importance is to ensure an independent evaluation function, reporting directly to the Executive Director, and we encourage UN Women to follow the highest standards in this regard. We strongly support UN Women’s efforts to utilize evaluations for evidence-based decision-making and welcome its efforts to promote an increased number of management responses and follow-up actions.

We note our concern about the quality of a part of the decentralized evaluations, and appreciate the steps taken to improve their quality and strengthen monitoring and evaluation capacities at the field level. In addition to headquarters and regional offices, country offices need to be adequately equipped in terms of monitoring and evaluation capacity. It would be useful if future reports could elaborate also on this aspect.

In developing its evaluation strategy for future years, the organization should seek to get closer to its target expenditure, in order to further strengthen its monitoring and evaluation capacity and speed the progress made on embedding evaluation. In this regard, it is important that the evaluation strategy be aligned with the Strategic Plan, for instance to ensure that UN Women will be able to make comprehensive mid-term and end-of-cycle reviews of the Strategic Plan. We note that evaluation planning is best done at the beginning of program cycles, so that necessary data can be built into the program and adequate funds set aside.

We are happy to see that UN Women has introduced management responses to evaluations. However, in 2011 only 10 out of 16 evaluations were followed by a management response. Out of 120 recommendations, only 3 were implemented by February 2012. This leaves room for improvement, as you have already noted, and we look forward to hearing UN Women elaborate further on how this work will progress.

Our countries support UN Women’s efforts to utilize evaluations for evidence-based decision-making. We encourage the effective sharing of lessons learned and the integration of these lessons into results reporting. Evaluation resources should be targeted where they are most needed, for example, toward new concepts or pilot programs, areas of significant investment, or potentially problematic projects requiring further study. We would also encourage examining both completed activities and the selective use of formative evaluations to provide feedback on initiatives and corporate operations in progress. We welcome the increase in joint evaluations to eliminate duplicative efforts and leverage expertise across UN bodies. We encourage UN Women to take steps to effect suggested improvements identified in past evaluations, as well as to improve the overall management response rate to evaluations and the rate of implementation of follow-up actions.

In future sessions of the Board, we would appreciate if UN Women placed the thematic evaluations already carried out on the agenda, to allow a discussion on the lessons to be learned. The evaluation of the UN peacekeeping activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or MONUSCO, is an interesting example. We would welcome UN Women’s views on what challenges and obstacles MONUSCO faces in adequately addressing the impact on women of their activities, including participation in elections and security sector reform. Also, you note that your report is expected to serve as a framework for evaluating gender equality in future peacekeeping evaluations. We would appreciate further elaboration on your efforts thus far and future planning.

We look forward to seeing some of these issues addressed in the first UN Women Evaluation Policy to be presented at the Second Regular Session. We would hope that the Policy will set out how its own success will be measured and what actions will be taken to ensure appropriate peer review of the evaluation function in due course. Furthermore, in order to have an informed assessment of its independence, credibility and utility, we would appreciate your consider undergoing a UNEG-DAC peer review.

Let us end by expressing support to UN Women’s effort to foster gender responsive evaluation within the United Nations system. The Evaluation Office has a crucial role to play – both within UN Women and as a leader across the UN system – in documenting what works in the promotion of gender equality. We welcome UN Women contributing to UNEG guidance on “how to conduct an evaluation of normative work” and on “impact evaluations of United Nations normative and institutional support work.” We would welcome further information on this guidance which will be valuable for the whole UN system.

Thank you for your attention.


PRN: 2012/136