REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL: PROTECTION AND EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN AND GIRLS IN IRAQI KURDISTAN REGION

Purpose of Evaluation

Vital Voices is planning a final impact outcomes evaluation of the Protection and Empowerment of Women and Girls in Iraqi Kurdistan. This program is a collaboration between Vital Voices Global Partnership (Vital Voices) and Asuda for Combatting Violence Against Women (Asuda).  It consists of a multi-pronged implementation strategy to increase the ability to assist survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) within a holistic gender-oriented framework. As such, the project seeks to increase access to services for survivors of GBV in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). It targets communities with an integrated approach centered on strengthening the capacity of health, psychosocial, legal and social workers to deliver counseling and referrals for GBV survivors.  Moreover, the project seeks to improve community mechanisms for the prevention of GBV, including domestic violence, by conducting awareness raising activities with local communities as well as advocating on these issues to local authorities.

The evaluation is intended to provide actionable insights into the program model’s impact on it’s overall goal of improving quality and reach of services to survivors of GBV and enhancing access to prevention, protection, and justice for survivors of GBV. It should evaluate how program activities contribute towards the goals of the program and subsequent objectives and outcomes. Vital Voices program management and funder staff intend to use this evaluation to better understand the project’s impact on it’s local partners, the survivors they serve, and their broader community.

The onsite M&E and impact evaluation will serve the dual and mutually reinforcing objectives of accountability and learning.

  • Accountability: The evaluations will assess and report on the performance and results of the program to help VV to present high quality and credible evidence to its funder and partners and public in general by making the evaluation results actionable for improving the future subaward.
  • Learning: The evaluation will determine the reasons why certain results occurred or not, to draw conclusions and recommendations, derive good practices and pointers for learning at programs level but also contributing to Iraq’s subaward and contract activities. Therefore, it will provide evidence to inform operational and strategic decision-making. It will contribute to VV and funder learning agendas. Findings will be actively disseminated, and lessons will be incorporated into relevant lesson sharing systems.

Evaluation activities are expected to occur over a two month period with a final report due 30 days after the completion of evaluation activities.

Background

The Project: “Protection and Empowerment of Women and Girls in Iraqi Kurdistan” is a program to improve access to support for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV), build the capacity of GBV service providers and community mechanisms to better respond to and prevent GBV, and raise awareness and build the capacity of women and girls to protect themselves from violence and exclusion. Additionally, the program equips CSOs and government actors with the tools to address GBV and provide rehabilitation services for survivors of GBV.

Asuda, an Iraqi NGO based in Iraqi Kurdistan (KRI), has, for 20 years, committed to combating GBV through an institutional and systematic approach in order to enhance the status of women and gender minorities, and strengthen civil society through the participation of women and gender minorities.

Asuda’s vision is a world where all genders enjoy equal rights and access to resources and opportunities, where all forms of discrimination and marginalization against women and marginalized communities are eliminated, and where all genders can live free from violence. Asuda seeks the attainment of a safe environment for women and minorities where everyone benefits from the provision of legal, medical, mental health, and livelihood services. Asuda strives to help women increase their awareness of their rights, advocate for their rights, and lead development programs that benefit their communities.

When its operations commenced, Asuda was the first and only NGO to open a women shelter in this region.  Asuda provides survivors of GBV with access to a safe space as well as psychosocial and legal support through listening centers across the KRI.  In 2019, Asuda found job placements for 127 women. In the recent years, Asuda expanded its horizons and started advocacy campaigns, engaging men and boys, providing awareness raising sessions to the public, and launching a social media campaign regarding the types and reach of GBV and how to combat it.

Nadia’s Initiative, founded by the Nobel Peace Prize winner and ISIS survivor Nadia Murad, is dedicated to rebuilding communities in crisis and advocating globally for survivors of sexual violence. Nadia’s Initiative’s current work focuses on the sustainable re-development of the Yazidi homeland in Sinjar, Iraq after ISIS launched their genocidal campaign across the region.

Nadia’s Initiative works with the local community and a variety of implementing partners on the ground in Sinjar to design and support projects that promote the restoration of education, healthcare, livelihoods, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), and women’s empowerment in the region. All Nadia’s Initiative programs are community-driven, survivor centric, and work to promote long-term peace building. Nadia’s Initiative advocates for governments and international organizations to support efforts to rebuild Sinjar, seek justice for Yazidis, improve security in the region, and support survivors of sexual violence worldwide.

Program Objectives and Activities:

Asuda: Through activities with Asuda, the first objective is that survivors of GBV, including those displaced and residing in host communities as well as Yazidi survivors of ISIS trafficking, have improved access to medical, psychosocial and legal support and services. The program includes the following outcomes under this objective:

  • Increased access to quality mental health support for survivors of GBV including psychosocial counseling, psychiatrist referrals, and group therapy sessions and open sessions for survivors
  • Provision of legal consultation and representation for survivors of GBV.

The provision of quality mental health and legal support is the single most important activity under the award, serving on average 800 survivors a year. The numbers of survivors supported by Asuda’s listening centers has increased significantly over the last several years, and has been the most long-lasting activity of the project. The program started with the establishment of Asuda’s listening centers, which provide psychosocial counseling and referrals for traumatized women and girls which continues to this day. Asuda’s centers saw referrals from the General Directorate of Combating Violence against Women, women’s shelters, Juvenile Rehabilitation Centers, and Police and Security Force Departments.

The second objective is to build the capacity of GBV service providers in the KRI and improved community mechanisms for the prevention of and response to GBV. The program includes the following outcomes under this objective:

  • Delivery of advanced and intense trainings on psychosocial support services to staff of government run shelters in Sulaimaniyah, Duhok, and Erbil
  • Awareness raising activities in local communities and internally displaced persons (IDP) host communities on issues affecting women and girls relating to health and violence.

Additionally, Asuda recruited women volunteers across IDP host communities to conduct outreach and awareness raising activities for women and girls on issues of health and violence in IDP camps. The volunteer mobilizers also worked to build community knowledge surrounding GBV issues and to encourage women and girls to access services. The women mobilizers were able to reach 728 women and girls, a significant percentage of whom sought out services at Asuda’s listening centers.

The third objective is to raise awareness about GBV and the gender norms and societal structures that perpetuate it in order to reduce and prevent GBV across the region. The program includes the following outcomes under this objective:

  • Identification of gaps in service provision, and the provision of, to local organizations, the tools necessary to implement a cohesive community response to GBV
  • Engagement of men and boys in change-making positions to incorporate women’s rights, perspectives and issues into their change-making work.

Under this objective, Vital Voices and Asuda completed workshops on “How to Conduct Advocacy Campaign”, “How to Engage Men and Boys in Combating Violence against Women”, and “Identifying Gaps in Article 8—The Act of Combating Domestic Violence in Kurdistan Region-Iraq” reaching people from numerous judicial courts in Duhok, Erbil and Sulaimaniyah, various government departments, and members of the Women Committee of the Kurdistan Region Parliament. Additionally, numerous civil society organizations participated and some of the events were widely covered by media outlets. These events were a wonderful opportunity for government and civil society to continue to engage with each other in a debate around how to tackle the issue of GBV, as well as plan for advocacy interventions and legislative reform. Moreover, greater collaboration between service providers and the government helps ensure that shelters become known and used as safe spaces for women and other gender minorities.

Boys and men’s engagement workshops invited participants to explore gender roles, toxic masculinity, fatherhood, and gender-based violence. Participants included religious leaders, doctors, high school teachers, university professors, civil society representatives, and law enforcement officials. Asuda and VV also launched a social media campaign to educate social media users on GBV and raise awareness to prevent GBV in Iraq. Due to COVID-19, in-person boys and men’s engagement workshops were postponed and replaced with online webinars. Asuda and VV decided to expand the recruitment efforts for the webinars to all regions of Iraq and participants joined from across the state. In addition to the positive online dialogues, the webinars served as a tool to assess the knowledge of male individuals in Iraq that will help strengthen future boys’ and men’s engagement work throughout Iraq.

Nadia’s Initiative: Through activities with Nadia’s Initiative, the overarching goal of the two objectives is to ensure that survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) in the KRI have better access to required services, and that CSOs and government actors are better equipped to address GBV and provide rehabilitation services for survivors of GBV. The program includes the following outcomes:

  • Increased capacity to acquire, manage, and implement grants in order to sustainably support designing programs that provide holistic services to survivors of GBV in Iraq
  • Strengthened overall growth and financial management processes and procedures
  • Improved hiring strategies, in-country communication, and long-term growth strategies
  • Systems, tools, and procedures designed to better respond to and build programs around community needs, which in turn help program implementers understand how to rebuild and improve their communities strategically and efficiently.

Evaluation Questions

  • How has the program impacted survivor access to medical, psychosocial, and legal support services? In which ways has the program had the most success and where have there been challenges? What differences exist among populations and between services?
  • How well do program activities meet the needs of survivors? What needs are met well by the program design and which needs are not met or not adequately addressed and may require program changes?
  • What outcomes result from access to medical, psychosocial, and/ or legal services? Are survivors satisfied with these services? What differences exist among populations and between services?
  • In what ways has the capacity of GBV service providers changed? What successes do providers report and what challenges continue?
  • How have trainings impacted the capacity of Asuda staff? What aspects of these trainings have had the most impact on survivors and Asuda’s service delivery?
  • How much are these communities aware of the GBV services available and of Asuda itself?
  • In what ways has awareness about GBV and gender norms shifted in the communities impacted by the project? What success and challenges have arisen? What impact does this have on the health and well-being of women and girls in these communities?
  • What gaps in service provision and tools were identified during program implementation? What steps were taken to address these gaps? What outcomes did survivors experience from these changes?
  • How did the attitudes of men, boys, and local leaders towards women’s rights and inclusion shift among participants in men and boys and local leaders engagement activities? What if any community changes occurred because of these shifts in attitudes? How were these results different across populations?
  • How have community mechanisms for prevention of GBV in KRI shifted during project implementation?
  • How has the capacity of Nadia’s Initiative to manage grants shifted during the project? What have been significant successes and challenges?
  • How have Nadia’s Initiative’s financial management processes and procedures shifted during the project? What have been significant successes and challenges?
  • How have Nadia’s Initiative’s employee engagement practices shifted, especially in relation to in-country staff during the project? What have been significant successes and challenges?
  • How have new systems, tools, and procedures impacted Nadia’s Initiative’s ability to support the rebuilding of communities in the KRI? What have been significant successes and challenges?
  • How sustainable are the program’s responses to GBV? To what extent are partners able to develop sustainable plans to continue work after grants and trainings?
  • What are a few specific recommendations for improving project implementation in each of the following outcome areas?
  • Increasing survivors’ access to services
  • Increasing capacity of organizations serving survivors
  • Raising community awareness of GBV
  • Increasing capacity of women and girls to protect themselves from violence
  • Increasing women and girls’ inclusion

Evaluation and Research Methodology

The final methodology will be developed in coordination with Vital Voices staff with an opportunity for comment from funder and additional stakeholders. At minimum, the evaluation will use a participatory approach to engaging with stakeholders at partner organizations, with beneficiaries of funded programs, and with the community at large. A competitive proposal will include a mixed methodology including qualitative data gathered through semi-structured interviews with stakeholders as specified below, and a quantitative review of program data collected from Asuda. Data collection will include the following:

  • Key informant interviews
  • Survey
  • Focus group discussions
  • Desk review of case files
  • Desk review of program documents and reporting

Detailed data collection will be conducted in Asuda’s listening centers, and LOAs locations in the project worksites in Iraq. The evaluator will design how the project activities will be selected for M&E and evaluation, the meeting schedule with the stakeholders and methodology used for the data collection.  The evaluation will involve engaging directly with survivors of GBV and the proposal will need to have a clear methodology for ensuring the safety of these stakeholders and a triangulation method to address the likelihood that survivors participating directly in the evaluation may have better outcomes than those who are unable or unwilling to participate in the evaluation.

The evaluation will use non-random purposive convenience sampling within a sampling frame which includes all stakeholders involved with program activities occurring from October 2015 through July 2021.

Data Collection: The external evaluator should expect to work in Iraq directly with Iraqi partners, and with program participants including some survivors of GBV in addition to reviewing program reporting materials and performing a desk audit of organizational activities.

  • Review program documents including evaluation plans and subawardee reporting
  • Review existing M&E systems, tools, and indicators in use by the Vital Voices and Iraq’s partners, and LOAs
  • Semi-structured interviews with current and some past Vital Voices, Asuda, and Nadia’s Initiative staff
  • Semi-structured interviews or focus groups with beneficiaires of subaward activities conducted in a manner that is trauma informed and survivor centered.
  • Review of data from sub-awardee reporting
  • Semi-structured interviews with training partners and additional stakeholders

The contractor will update the evaluation work plan (the lists of interviewees, survey participants, the schedule) and submit the updated version to Vital Voices on a monthly basis.

Evaluation Design:

Within 4 weeks of approval of the work plan, the evaluation team must submit an evaluation design to Vital Voices. The design will become an annex to the evaluation report.

The evaluation design will include:

  1. Detailed evaluation design matrix that links the Evaluation Questions from the SOW (in their finalized form) to data sources, methods, and the data analysis plan;
  2. Draft questionnaires and other data collection instruments or their main features;
  3. List of potential interviewees and sites to be visited if applicable and proposed selection criteria
  4. Budgetary breakdown of evaluation costs. Budget not to exceed $29,737.13
  5. Limitations to the evaluation design;
  6. Evaluation Report outline; and
  7. Dissemination plan (designed in collaboration with Vital Voices staff)

Evaluation Timeline

Evaluation activities are expected to start in August 2021 and conclude by October 31, 2021. The final evaluation methodology and design should be completed with input from Vital Voices and the funder and submitted by September 30th and field activities should conclude by October 31st. The final report will be due on November 30, 2021.

Evaluation Submission Requirements and Team Composition

The contractor must provide information about evaluation team members, explaining how they meet the requirements in the evaluation SOW. All team members must provide a signed statement attesting to a lack of conflict of interest or describing an existing conflict of interest relative to the project or activity being evaluated.

All Proposals should include:

  1. Overall description of proposed methodology and approach to impact evaluation
  2. Draft schedule and logistical arrangements;
  3. Members of the evaluation team, delineated by roles and responsibilities;
  4. Evaluation milestones;
  5. Anticipated schedule of evaluation team data collection efforts;
  6. Locations and dates for piloting data collection efforts, if applicable;

Proposed evaluation methodology including selection criteria if applicable

Required qualifications and skills:

  1. Experience in evaluation design, methods, management, and implementation;
  2. Technical subject matter expertise in gender-based violence;
  3. Expertise in trauma-informed interviewing and survivor-centered approaches
  4. Experience in working in Iraq, with preference for experience working in Iraqi Kurdistan
  5. Language fluency in English, Arabic, and Kurdish.
  6. Ability to work on the ground in Iraqi Kurdistan

Interested parties should submit proposals to humanrights@vitalvoices.org including an outline of activities to be completed, information on evaluation team members, relevant experience, and a detailed budget by August 6, 2021. Please ensure that proposal emails include Iraq Impact Evaluation in the subject line.

Questions may be submitted to humanrights@vitalvoices.org until July 30th, 2021. Please ensure that proposal emails include Iraq External Evaluation Question in the subject line