ILO and IFAD partner to build evidence on gender outcomes in rural employment interventions in the Middle East and North Africa

ILO’s Youth Employment Programme and the Near East and North Africa Unit of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) recently signed an agreement to implement a new initiative: “Strengthening gender monitoring, evaluation and mainstreaming in rural employment projects in the Middle East and North Africa”. The project is a capacity development and learning initiative that aims to understand “what works” in the promotion of gender mainstreaming through rigorous impact research with the ultimate goal of reaching gender equality in rural employment outcomes across the region. Project activities will place special attention at understanding gender dynamics across age cohorts, with the recognition that unemployment and inequality rates are particularly high among youth and women.

The initiative builds on a strong and well-established platform of ILO’s “Taqeem Initiative” and its “Community of Practice”, a highly accomplished knowledge sharing initiative consisting of fifteen organizations implementing innovative results based measurement strategies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

The project will operate as a specialized thematic window under the Taqeem Programme with a strategic approach involving three iterative and interlinked components. A cross-cutting feature of the project will be the rolling out of the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index:
  1. Capacity development: Communities of Practice (CoPs) will be formed at the regional level composed of gender focused project teams. Project teams will receive executive training on rigorous forms of evaluation.
  2. Impact research: The project will support a series of rigorous studies to provide evidence on programmes and policies and how they enhance economic empowerment of rural women and men respectively. An annual call for proposals will be the vehicle to competitively select research.
  3. Policy influence: The project will leverage on ILO’s comparative advantage of close relationships with government, employers and workers organizations in the region to facilitate dissemination of findings and recommendations from impact research. Morocco, Egypt and Jordan will be targeted for the development and implementation of an in-depth policy influence plan.
As a specialized thematic window of Taqeem, the project will strengthen the gender focus in innovative results based measurement strategies. The distinctiveness of the project and its value added to Taqeem lies on (i) its ability to explore gender issues and dynamics for a better understanding about what works to promote employment and empowerment in the MENA region, and (ii) the opportunity it opens to increase evidence and impact research in rural areas in the region.

The project will be managed by the ILO in Geneva with project support offices in ILO Beirut and Cairo. The success of the project will critically depend on a team of evaluation and labour specialists coordinating and delivering the project. Technical consultation for the project will be provided by the Taqeem Evaluation Council composed of senior researchers from Northern and Southern based institutions. The Council will be responsible for setting a forward looking research agenda on employment and gender issues in the region while providing quality assurance for impact research.

For more information contact, Ms. Susana Puerto Gonzalez, Senior Technical Specialist, or Mr. Drew Gardiner, Technical Cooperation Specialist,