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Inclusive Systemic Evaluation for Gender, Environments and Marginalised Voices

The 'ISE4GEMs'

Anne and Ellen are lead authors of a systemic evaluation guidance published by UN Women in 2018.


This work encapsulates the values and approach of Ethos of Engagement Consulting, and is used by our evaluation teams throughout the world. 

It uses the GEMs Framework to structure problems, and as a focal point of analysis. 

The ISE4GEMs can be used as a stand-alone evaluation method or be incorporated into other evaluation methodologies. ISE4GEMs supports the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as it was designed to evaluate complex social problems. The UN’s SDGs are the global guide for creating a better and more sustainable future. Our planet is currently under duress with multiple issues related to climate change, inequality, poverty, and injustice. Each of the 17 SDGs are interconnected and cannot be addressed in isolation. The SDG framework recognizes the complexity of the problems we need to address. 


Not only must an evaluator have a firm grasp on the current climate, but also on the culture, history, and societal expectations on the individuals of the given area in order to affect positive change. While it is impossible to understand a system in its entirety, the most comprehensive knowledge comes from a well-rounded representation, acknowledgment of our own preconceived notions, and the ability to develop a system that can adjust to feedback. If we ignore the context of the region we impose our own ideologies onto the system of development. It is not our job to shape the culture, it is our job to work within the culture to create a better system. 

Issues of Power and Oppression

Issues of Power and oppression take hold when the stakeholders of development are made up of the elite few. The GEMs framework encourages evaluators to make room for those that have been denied a “seat at the table” by the previous system.


The GEMs framework prioritizes inclusivity and representation for those impacted by development, whether they be living or not. Those that are marginalized must be sought out and advocated for. Participation must be encouraged and the inability to participate must be compensated for. An all inclusive system that acknowledges the limitations of its stakeholders and adjusts to fit their needs is what the GEMs framework strives to enact.

Nonhuman voices

When considering marginalized voices, it is less intuitive to consider non-humans. Animals, plants, and other existing systems all have to be considered and accounted for, and if not we must justify their exclusion and prepare for the possible emergent consequence of that exclusion. 

Intersectional Theory

It is important to understand the intersectional nature of the GEMs framework. While we acknowledge the three dimensions separately, GEMs intersect with one another and are expressed at different magnitudes. 

The ISE4GEMs Process


The ISE4GEMs guide is available in English and Spanish for free on UN Women’s publications website in PDF formats and Word

The Guide is in two parts

Part A - Practitioner Theory - of the ISE4GEMs guide hones in on the theoretical concepts that support our framework. Concepts such as systems thinking, intersectionality, complexity, and feedback are addressed. 


Part B - Practitioner Guidance - describes step-by-step evaluation phases depicting planning and design, data collection, data analysis and reporting of evaluation practice. These methods can be followed systematically or used selectively to fit the needs of the project involved. Each chapter (or phase of evaluation) represents cycles of activity that can be repeated and revisited in an iterative and analytical way. 


Boundary setting and critique is critical to the approach. Practitioners are guided to define the boundaries of the relevant systems and where they overlap and interact. Mapping these systems and boundaries builds an understanding of the complexity of the problem issue and points of leverage for intervention and change.

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