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Baseline study on the use of evidence in the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage in South Asia

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Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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Background

The UNFPA–UNICEF Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage (GPECM) promotes the rights of adolescent girls to avert marriage and pregnancy, and enables them to achieve their aspirations through education and alternative pathways.

The strategic objective of the GPECM is to accelerate action to address child marriage by enhancing investments in and support for unmarried and married girls and by making visible the corresponding benefits; by engaging key actors, including young people as agents of change in catalysing shifts towards positive gender norms; by increasing political support, resources, positive policies and frameworks; and by improving the data and evidence base.

The GPECM is structured in four phases:

  • Inception : 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2015

  • Phase I : 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2019

  • Phase II : 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2023

  • Phase III : 1 January 2024 to 31 December 2030

Phase I (2016-2019) contributed to building a strong evidence base about what works to end child marriage. Phase II (2020-2023) will accelerate actions to end child marriage by enhancing investments in and support for both unmarried and married adolescent girls.

The transition from Phase I to Phase II was developed around two key workshops. A workshop to design Phase II was organized by UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women in Jaipur in February 2019, with three objectives: i) review the globally-developed theory of change (ToC); ii) facilitate exchange on the successful practices and challenges of Phase I among country and regional teams, agencies and experts; and iii) facilitate capacity building on aspects of measurement and gender-transformative approaches. Another workshop was held in August 2019 with the UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA) and UNFPA Asia Pacific Regional Office (APRO) and their respective country offices in Bangladesh, India and Nepal to contextualize the ToC.

Participants were asked to clearly indicate the evidence they used when adjusting the global ToC to the regional context. Building on the workshop, the COs further adjusted the global and regional ToCs, placed them in country context and identified activities for Phase II. Planned activities and corresponding targets and budgets are reported in the Phase II Work Plans. Country- and regionallevel strategies are described in the Phase II Strategic Narratives.

Evidence-based decision making and learning is an important aspect of the GPECM. Decisions about programming and other activities depend on research “evidence” collected from a wide range of sources including child marriage studies, project and programme evaluations, good practices, journal articles, policy briefs and reports from experts and partners, among other sources. Such evidence can be quantitative or qualitative. It can be used to make the case for ending child marriage, showcase the impact of programme results or shape the next phase of programming.
How does the GPECM contribute to and make use of evidence? The present study was conducted at the start of Phase II to establish a baseline measuring the programme’s use of evidence.

The study was conducted in three countries: Bangladesh, India and Nepal. The study analyses the use of evidence in programming, design and delivery, advocacy and monitoring and evaluation (M&E). The study also reviews the major activities outlined in the Phase II Work Plans for the three countries. It does not look at evidence used to identify the global outcomes and outputs in the programme’s ToC as these were agreed based upon a global consultation process with significant analysis and use of evidence. Rather, this study establishes the extent to which evidence has been used in the first six months of Phase II of the programme.