Dave Mills, a senior researcher at WorldFish, was describing the outcomes of a project on governance reform with small-scale fishers in Ghana. This project had empowered women in the community by working to build confidence, capacity, and vision among women to engage in decision-making and by helping challenge underlying and oppressive attitudes towards them. Dave recounted how, at a project review meeting, the village chief proudly exclaimed “What have you done with these women – they have changed!” He was delighted they were now active in decision-making and that he now knew what women needed and wanted in his community.
For any organization trying to decide how best to achieve development impact, a good place to start is with a ‘Theory of Change’, or ToC. Formally defined as “a statement of the interconnected causal pathways that describe the types of interventions that bring about desired outcomes” , a ToC can be more plainly said to be a description of what you need to do to make a difference.
I was fortunate to recently attend a workshop here in Penang on Gender Transformative Research (GTR) in Agricultural Development, where ToCs were discussed . This was an important discussion because, as I explained in my last post, not all researchers are agreed about whether GTR should be pursued by agricultural research organizations . Without a compelling rationale that forms part of a clear theory of change that situation is likely to persist. Continue reading →