María Amigó, a PACE academic, shares her findings and experience of conducting evaluation research for one of PACE’s international partners, Restless Development Nepal. This is an example of how the PACE program can be leveraged to create research opportunities for academics and students.

At the recent PACE Community of Practice session, Dr. María Amigó shared findings from her recent evaluation of the Save the Date program to address child marriage in Nepal. Ten per cent of girls in Nepal get married before they turn 15, and 37% before they turn 18, meaning that Nepal has the third highest incidence of child marriage in South Asia. Consequences of early marriage for girls include disruption of their educational aspirations and thus their chances of becoming economically self-sufficient, reduced autonomy to make decisions about their own body and reproductive health, and increased vulnerability to gender and domestic violence. Together, these fuel the cycle of poverty and perpetuate gender discrimination, violence, and the power imbalance between genders.

The Save the Date program was run by three organisations (Restless Development Nepal; Child Workers in Nepal; Community Radio Support Centre-Nepal Forum for Environmental Journalists) and entailed three complementary strategies:

  • Awareness: Mitini radio drama on child marriage played on 56 radio stations across Nepal
  • Advocacy: Educational workshops for school students, teachers, parents, and health workers
  • Action: Phone helpline to provide information and support on reports of child marriage

The evaluation used quantitative and qualitative data collected in three districts in Nepal. It found that the Save the Date program had significantly improved awareness among students about such topics as sexual and reproductive health rights and the legal age for marriage, and that calls to the phone helpline became more frequent. The evaluation also highlighted important contextual issues that need to be considered, such as the influence of poverty on marriage decisions, decentralisation policies in Nepal that create uncertainty and confusion about law enforcement and community development, and cultural practices and beliefs about marriage and women. Lastly, the evaluation identified areas for improvement, including the length of the program, support for peer educators whose work is vital to the program but also potentially controversial, and the need to engage with local governments.

Leveraging PACE for consultancy & research opportunities

This evaluation opportunity came through one of PACE’s international partners, Restless Development, who were looking for input from an anthropologist/sociologist for a summative evaluation to show their funder and project partners. To take up this consultancy, María needed to prepare an ‘Inception Report’ (similar to a research proposal) and be granted permission from the relevant people in the Faculty of Arts. María travelled to Nepal to conduct the qualitative data collection in August 2018. She also hosted three PACE students (from SOC849 and SSCI301) in session 2, 2018 to help develop qualitative research tools and conduct the data analysis. Some of the key lessons learned from this experience are:

  • There is a lot of potential to leverage the PACE network of local, regional and international organisations to generate opportunities for collaborative research and evaluation;
  • Engage PACE students in the process – this is a great opportunity for them to apply and develop their research skills;
  • Don’t underestimate the amount of extra work required to complete a consultancy, and make sure to get all the appropriate permissions;
  • Consider ethical procedures and plan in advance (e.g., develop a data management plan).

Find out more

If you want to learn more about this evaluation project, please get in touch with María.

Join the PACE Community of Practice

If you’re interested in joining the PACE Community of Practice (CoP), or have ideas for future PACE CoP sessions, please get in touch.

Posted by PACE (Professional & Community Engagement)

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